The hottest ticket on Broadway this week wasn’t Book of Mormon—though that show’s star, Andrew Rannells, was involved: It was Broadway Backwards 7, the annual star-studded benefit show where stage sirens sing showtune standards meant for men and musical men belt tunes written for ladies. Raising a record-breaking $329,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Monday’s revue featured Broadway legend Betty Buckley, Tony winners LaChanze and Len Cariou and breakout star Robin De Jesús (In The Heights, La Cage), plus Charles Busch, Dan Butler, Mario Cantone, Nancy Dussault, Anthony Federov, Barrett Foa, Telly Leung, Brian Charles Rooney, Bruce Vilanch George Takei and many more.
Buckley treated the audience to an emotional medley of songs from Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, including “Not While I’m Around,” “Johanna” and “My Friends.”
Broadway Cares, the theater community’s response to the AIDS crisis, had more highlights on its blog:
Act One opened with Robin De Jesús’ charming rendition of “All I Want Is a Room Somewhere” from My Fair Lady and closed with the defiant, high-energy anthem “I Just Want to Dance” from Jerry Springer: The Opera, sung by Jason Patrick Snow and featuring Cicily Daniels.
Jenn Colella and Jackie Hoffman turned the Damn Yankees showstopper “The Game” into an all-female vow to stay away from “booze and broads,” with a special cameo appearance and pep talk by “Coach” and Star Trek favorite George Takei.
The romantic balcony duet from West Side Story once again thrilled an audience as two of Broadway’s loveliest leading ladies, Sierra Boggess and Elizabeth Stanley, together sang Bernstein/Sondheim extraordinary duet ”Tonight” as it’s surely never been heard before.
Andrew Rannells brought the best of Funny Girl to a Broadway stage after all this season with a smooth and seductive rendition of “The Music That Makes Me Dance.”
Harvey Evans and Jim Brochu were met with thunderous applause after a flirtatious and whimsically sweet vaudeville turn in “It’s Never Too Late to Fall In Love” from The Boy Friend.
Bryan Batt took a comedic romp through “Life with Harold” from The Full Monty as he tried to keep focus on the wonderful attributes of his husband, Harold, amid the distractions of handsome young shoppers along Fifth Avenue.
Tony Award-winner Len Cariou, the original Sweeney Todd who’s now starring on CBS’ Blue Bloods, gave a sensitive rendition of the King and I standard “Something Wonderful.”
The show’s inspiring, gospel-fueled finale of “I Am What I Am” from La Cage Aux Folles triggered a rapturous standing ovation. This bring-down-the-house rendition was led by Shawna Hamic, currently garnering raves as Madame Thénardier in the 25th anniversary national touring production of Les Misérables, and backed by the show’s ensemble of several dozen Broadway singers and dancers.
Were you there? Share any favorite performances in the comments section! (And if you weren’t, tell us what Broadway standard you’d love to see get a gender mash-up.)
Click through for photos from Broadway Backwards 7
Photos: Peter James Zielinski