Clay Aiken – Still Teaching Us All

My world has grown so much because I am a fan of Clay Aiken.  I have learned so much about the music business, the pros and cons of being a celebrity, the importance of  “People First” Language, and the fight for equality for all.  I feel comfortable visiting Raleigh, North Carolina, New York City and other cities and know that even if I travel alone, I will always be with friends . I know more about The National Inclusion Project, GLAAD, GLSEN, GIVE A DAMN, UNICEF and BC/EFA.

I remember learning about BC/EFA in 2008.  Clay Aiken was in the middle of his run in Spamalot and worked hard to earn money for the event.  I remember seeing the line-up of fans that donated money to have their pictures taken with Clay and the other cast members.  Clay let his fans know he wanted Spamalot to win, but 2nd place seems to be Clay’s spot! The competition raised a record 3.7 million dollars that year.

The 25th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition was held this year on April 26th.  There were two star-studded, sold-out shows that featured hilarious original skits and songs, amazing dance numbers and, of course, extravagantly elaborate, custom-made bonnets from 17 of the participating productions.

The show started with an exciting Glee-inspired original opening number.  There were the  “Broadway Gleeks” and the “Cheerios,” along with Broadway’s version of Mr. Shue and Coach Sue.  The stage was filled with more than two dozen dancers and singers.  The talented cast battled against each other and their different musical styles.

The multi-talented Ben Cohn directed, arranged and orchestrated the opening number while Shea Sullivan served as the director.

In April, Christopher Sieber was co-star of the current La Cage aux Folles.  In a moving presentation, he shared the history of the Easter Bonnet Competition.

The first Easter Bonnet Competition was presented on the Saturday of Easter week in 1987 by the original cast of La Cage aux Folles between shows at the Palace Theatre. Ten Broadway shows created bonnets that were displayed in the lobby. A few hundred folks paid a dollar to attend and voted for their favorites by stuffing dollar bills into jars representing each show. They raised $17,138. It was an amazing accomplishment.  Sieber said:

Touched personally by the AIDS crisis, the company attacked the fear, the misinformation, and the panic with humor, style and grace.

This year, fifty-two Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies spent six weeks, working to raise the most money for BC/EFA.  They combined audience contributions, memorabilia sales, and exclusive auctions to raise $3,706,085.  The grand total raised was announced by Harvey Fierstein, Sutton Foster, and Daniel Radcliffe.  They also presented awards to the top fundraising show that included:

  • Broadway:  Top Fund Fundraiser How to Succeed in Business…
  • National Touring Shows:  Top Fundraiser Wicked – Emerald City
  • Broadway Play: Top Fundraiser That Championship Season
  • Off-Broadway: Top Fundraiser Avenue Q

According to their website:

Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised over $195 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

BC/EFA is the major supporter of seven programs at The Actors Fund, including The HIV/AIDS Initiative, The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, The Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, The Actors Fund Work Program, The Dancers’ Resource, The Stage Managers’ Project and three supportive housing residences.

BC/EFA also awards annual grants to more than 400 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide.

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