If you’ve ever been to a Broadway show around the holidays, you’re sure to have heard the actors post-show asking for donations to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. If Broadway stars kindly asking isn’t enough to get you to cough up some change, sometimes there’s even giveaways with the donations. Last year I got a signed poster by the whole cast of “Phantom of the Opera.”

The Actor’s Equity Association and the Producer’s Group separately started Equity Fights Aids and Broadway Cares in response to the growing AIDS crisis (well, besides the production of “RENT,” but that wasn’t until 1993) back in 1987 and 1988, respectively. In 1992, the two groups merged to form the charity that still exists today.

Every fall, the charity puts on the “Gypsy of the Year” competition, spurring those familiar requests for donations. Whichever Broadway or off-Broadway show raises the most money is dubbed “Gypsy of the Year”. Last year the competition raised over $3 million for the organization.

The competition culminates in basically the world’s most impressive talent show (a slight step up from fourth graders singing Miley Cyrus), with performances from various Broadway and off-Broadway shows. Awards are presented for best skit, and of course, to the show with the most money raised.

This year, in honor of the fortieth anniversary of “Grease’s” premiere on Broadway, the original Broadway cast will be reuniting on stage for the opening number of the night. Reuniting original casts always gets me (my tears at the end of the “Les Miserables” and “Phantom” 25th anniversary concerts are evidence enough of that), and with so many stars returning, “Gypsy of the Year” will be no different. Plus, it’s for a great cause.

The night will be hosted by Broadway aficionado Seth Rudetsky on December 5 at 4:30 p.m. and December 6 at 2 p.m. at the New Amsterdam Theater, the current home of “Mary Poppins.”

-Diana Pearl

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