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NEW YORK Everyone went The Full Monty at the Broadway Bares 2001: A Strip Odyssey benefit performance at Roseland Ballroom (that's totally nude for those of you who haven't been exposed, so to speak). It was an evening of great dancing and great bodies, all exposed to raise money for AIDS fund-raising group Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The cast included 167 Broadway chorus dancers and a smattering of stars including The Tale of the Allergist Wife's Michelle Lee; drag performer and Tale playwright Charles Busch; Rent star Idina Menzel (who performed at the show's fifth anniversary party); and The Rocky Horror Show's Tom Hewitt, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Alice Ripley (who also performed at the recent Fashion Rocks Broadway fund-raiser). The cast performed a kicky book musical--the plot was a quest throughout the galaxy for the “power pasties” that would restore sex to 42nd Street--twice in one night, drew two sellout crowds and raised more than $350,000 (plus tips stuck into G-strings by those close enough to the stage).
The Broadway Bares event has been going on for the past 10 years, drawing a mostly male crowd that comes to cheer the buns and bravado displayed in clever performances. Ariadne Villarreal, one of the show's producers, told us for one month the chorus gypsies who populate Broadway shows squeeze in practice between their eight weekly shows to provide the risque and riotous dance numbers. Numerous Broadway designers provided the glorious costumes (yes, there were costumes), and the fabulous makeup--much of it strategically placed sparkles--was done by a team from sponsor M.A.C. Cosmetics.
The lower-priced tickets were standing room only on the floor in front of the stage, and the sponsor tables on the mezzanine provided seating and a great view of the whole scene, audience and show. Against some stunning projections by design consultant Wendall Harrington, the 14 numbers were imaginatively choreographed by a host of dancers, and a mix of recorded pop music and live vocals by stars of past shows such as Rent and Hair rocked the house.
In this performance, the cast of The Full Monty revealed their backsides, rather than their usual frontal shots--it was that kind of an evening. And the second show of the evening went even further. No prudes allowed. The show-stopping number was by EFX, an acrobatic dance group from Las Vegas, who hung from a revolving sphere designed by the Living Art of Armando and thrilled the wildly appreciative audience. The Antigravity performance troupe also delighted the crowd by jumping on stilts. But mostly it was the bodies--which came from a lot of exercise--that drew the most applause. The program included a credit for massage and chiropractic services, and we can see why.