Skip to content

Red Bucket Follies raises $4,553,203 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

The variety show, a bookend to fall post-show fundraising, returned after a four-year pandemic hiatus.

J. Harrison Ghee and Bonnie Milligan in the opening number of the 2023 Red Bucket Follies (Credit: Rebecca J. Michelson)

Red Bucket Follies took to the stage of the New Amsterdam Theatre on Dec. 4 and 5 after a four-year pandemic-induced hiatus. The longtime performance event, which serves as the cap to six weeks of post-show fundraising, helped earn $4,553,203 for the nonprofit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The 2023 top overall-fundraising award went to “Merrily We Roll Along,” which raised $631,932.

Seth Rudetsky returned for the 13th time as host of the show. Forty-six Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring productions participated in fall fundraising.

The award for best onstage presentation went to the company of “The Lion King.” Set to spoken word written by Tony Award nominee Daniel J. Watts and performed by “Lion King” cast member Bongi Duma, the performance was directed and choreographed by fellow ensemblist Ray Mercer. The piece challenged how toxic masculinity often forces men to suppress their emotions, asking, “What happens to boys when boys don’t cry?”

“Back to the Future” earned the runner-up award for its presentation, featuring an original number that included cast members auditioning for the role of the national tour’s time-traveling DeLorean car (playing roles like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Greased Lightning and the “Starlight Express” dining car) in a “Car-us Line.” The number was directed by dresser Billy Hipkins (who is also a writer and performer) and cast member Jelani Remy.

An opening performance featured Remy with Tony winners Bonnie Milligan and J. Harrison Ghee in a dream-sequence number that commemorated the return of Red Bucket Follies. It was written by Jed Resnick and directed and choreographed by Andrew Turtletaub.

The 2023 judges included Tony winner Roger Bart, two-time Tony nominee Alex Brightman, Tony nominee Danny DeVito, Julie Boardman, Casey Cott, Courtney Reed, Lucy DeVito, Melanie La Barrie, Ben Jackson Walker, Kimberly Marable, Corey Brunish, Gary Wendlandt and Peg Wendlandt. 

The Red Bucket Follies creative team comprised director Jason Trubitt, production stage manager Bernadette Schoenborn, music director Ted Arthur, music coordinator Charles Gordon, lighting designer Anthony Pearson and sound designer Marie Renee Foucher.

Since 1989, the 31 editions of Red Bucket Follies (formerly called Gypsy of the Year) and a 2022 in-theater fundraising effort have raised $98.9 million to benefit Broadway Cares.