During its fall fundraising season, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS raised a total of $5,107,79. The Broadway production of “The Music Man” raised $2,002,612 alone, thanks to nightly auctions of props and costume pieces by stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. In the final week of the campaign, Nicole Kidman famously donated $100,000 during the post-curtain call fundraising.
Three dozen Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring productions participated in the six-week in-theater Red Bucket fundraising, which concluded on Dec. 4. The funds go towards healthcare, meals and medication for people with HIV/AIDS, dealing with COVID-19 or battling other serious illnesses.
The bi-annual campaign follows a tradition in which company members appeal to audiences after the curtain call to ask for donations to Broadway Cares. Volunteers — or cast members in pre-COVID-19 times — collect donations in the signature red buckets as patrons exit the theater. Many shows offer incentives, such as signed posters, in exchange for a specific monetary donation.
Traditionally, the fall donation period culminates with the two-day Red Bucket Follies event, with performances from participating shows. Due to the pandemic, the event will return in the fall of 2023. In lieu of a 2022 “Red Bucket Follies,” Broadway Cares presented the special event “A Toast to You” for members of the Visionary Circle and Angels Circle, donors who support Broadway Cares year-round and traditionally attend the “Follies.” The 2023 spring fundraising period is expected to culminate in the traditional Easter Bonnet Competition.
Across Broadway, the four top-fundraising musicals were “The Phantom of the Opera” ($416,379), “Hamilton” ($217,652), “A Strange Loop” ($200,019) and “SIX” ($192,778). The top two plays were “The Piano Lesson” ($108,883) and “Death of a Salesman” ($69,579).
The full list of companies who raised funds also includes “1776,” “Aladdin,” “Beetlejuice,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Chicago,” “The Collaboration,” “Funny Girl,” “Hadestown,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” “Into the Woods,” “Kimberly Akimbo,” “Leopoldstadt,” “The Lion King,” “MJ,” “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” “Take Me Out” and “Wicked.” The Off-Broadway productions of “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Play That Goes Wrong” also rallied support through audience appeals.
Ten national tours also participated: “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” “Come From Away,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Frozen,” “Hadestown,” “Hamilton” – Philip company, “Moulin Rouge! The Musical,” “SIX” – Aragon company, “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” and “Wicked” – Munchkinland company. Together, these touring productions raised $432,206.
“The spirit of giving was with so many audience members and shows who again readily and creatively embraced the decades-long tradition of Red Bucket fundraising,” Broadway Cares executive director Tom Viola said in a statement. “We are tremendously thankful to the theater owners, producers, casts, crews, musicians and, most especially, the stage managers who strategized behind-the-scenes and onstage efforts to engage audiences in appeals. Because of them, our vital support for the Entertainment Community Fund will continue to build a lifesaving safety net of essential services for those in entertainment and the performing arts. And our National Grants Program will continue reaching hundreds of organizations, providing meals and medication to those facing hardship and debilitating illnesses.”