For the past three weeks, after every performance of South Pacific, a member of the cast has been stepping forward to address the audience, almost as if he or she is about to give a Shakespearean curtain speech. But instead of saying "If we shadows have offended," the actor starts making a pitch, for the theater charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.
Founded in 1988, BC/EFA has raised over $140 million for services for people with AIDS, HIV, or HIV-related illnesses. Twice a year, the organization sponsors fundraising drives, culminating in sometimes wild talent shows where the casts of Broadway and off-Broadway productions either spoof or celebrate aspects of their working world by putting on skits. One of these events is called "Gypsy of the Year," and is held in the autumn; the other, for which the South Pacific actors are now raising money, is called the Easter Bonnet Competition.
Members of the South Pacific cast will present an Easter Bonnet skit this Monday and Tuesday at the Minskoff theater, and I will file a blog report of it next week. For now, however, I just want to mention how successful the South Pacific appeal has been [the final amount raised was $102,008] and that a great many of the cast have done curtain duty. In that speech, the audience is not only asked to donate cash to the cast members standing in the lobby (Laurissa Romain and Luka Kain, who play the child's parts Ngana and Jerome, have been an especially big hit) but to bid on things related to the show itself. Given the appeal's headgear theme, it's not surprising what have turned out to be the hot items: the sailor caps worn by the Seabees during the rehearsal period, which were priced at $200 each. A bargain, I'd say.