On December 4-5, 2019, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS presented the first "Red Bucket Follies" ceremony, an offshoot of the previous Gypsy of the Year presentations. In performances filled with love, equality, and joy, Red Bucket Follies became a record breaking celebration.
Through the six week fundraising period, 67 Broadway, Off-Broadway, and national touring companies raised $6,113,301 which is the most in the 30 year history of fall fundraising. Performance wise, Kinky Boots won for best onstage presentation, entitled "Kinky Farewell", as they bid goodbye to Broadway ahead of their April closing. The runner-up was Frozen, who presented a dance piece set to VV Brown's "Everybody". The top fundraising award went to the Angelica leg of the Hamilton tour, which raised $515,152.
This year, the opening number was a tribute to Flower Drum Song, and featured actors from the Broadway run, movie, first road company, first Broadway revival company, and first national tour. The performance honored the barriers broken by Asian actors on Broadway, with over 40 actors appearing in total, as well as all of the Asian actors to have received the Legacy (formerly Gypsy) Robe.
The rest of the presentation featured performances from many Broadway and off-Broadway shows, as well as number done by cast members from various national tours. Some of my favorite performances included the cast of The Lion King, who performed an emotional dance set the the testimonies of Anita Hill and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, ending with the resounding statement that it was time to listen to women. The cast of Hamilton performed an original dance set the the latest Hamil-Drop, "Cheering For Me Now". Wicked cast member Steven Skeels performed his original song "Beautiful Boy", with two of his fellow cast members dancing behind him in a tribute to those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.
The cast of Chicago ditched jazz shoes for tap shoes in "Ladies and Gentlemen, a Tap Number" set to pop songs "Survivor", "Shape of You", and "Bang Bang". The cast of the Yiddish production of Fiddler on the Roof, performed a heart wrenching rendition of "Sabbath Prayer" to honor the eleven people who lost their lives in the Tree of Live shooting at the Pittsburg synagogue. The cast of Avenue Q performed "Q Better Work", with the music and some of the lyrics from "And You Don't Even Know It" from the West End's smash hit Everybody's Talking About Jamie, in which Rod got to live out his drag queen dreams, eventually joined in by the other puppets.
The presentation was also graced with special presenters Erika Henningsen, Ashley Park, Kyle Selig, and Kate Rockwell from Mean Girls, as well as Poppy Miller, Noma Dumezweni, and Paul Thornley from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Additionally, Kevin Chamberlin, who is currently in Wicked, led the audience in an emotional and moving moment of silence to remember those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.
Though Red Bucket Follies is building on the 29-year tradition of Gypsy of the Year, this years was a beautiful presentation that not only was a moving tribute to those affected by HIV/AIDS, but also builds on the legacy of paying tribute the hardworking members of the ensemble.