Hollywood hunks are certainly no strangers to raking in record-breaking amounts of money at the box office. But how many of them have felt the awe of bringing in massive amounts of money, for charity, doing theatre? For a hint, check the title of this post. For those of you who don't live/work/breathe Broadway plays, let me give you a basic primer on a really incredible thing that goes on here in Midtown Manhattan. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids (BC/EFA), established in 1988, has raised over $175 million dollars for "essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States." Those services include funding health clinics and supportive residences, and giving grants to over 400 AIDS and family resource programs nationwide. They raise this money by calling "upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community."
During a six week fundraising blitz every year, shows on- and off-Broadway compete to see who can raise the most money. They raise this money by asking audiences -- those folks who have already shelled out $120 per seat -- to donate what they can for the cause. In an amazing display of creativity and generosity, actors, crews, and audiences have raised, in the twenty-one years of this win-win competition, over $40,000,000 for BC/EFA. Add your name to the list of donors here.
But, wait ... didn't I promise you a titillating story about Wolverine and James Bond? Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig recently starred together in a Broadway play, A Steady Rain. Like any respectable theatre actors, they got into the role of charity fundraisers. Not to be outdone by a bunch of Hippies and Witches, the boys resorted to the one thing they know a Broadway audience can't resist. No, it's not Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, and Liza Minelli, together for one night only! It appears to be a sweaty shirt.
By auctioning off the shirts they wore on stage (along with programs and posters and photo ops), Hugh and Daniel (along with a tireless crew) raised $1,549,952 for BC/EFA. Just to put it in perspective, the runner up was the national tour of Rent, which raised $242,383. The next highest grossing Broadway play (the category in which A Steady Rain competed) was Superior Donuts, which raised $76,309. All in all, the theatre community brought in a whopping $4,630,695.
$1.5 million dollars in six weeks. $258,325 a week. $32,390 per show. That's $359 a minute. It wasn't just the power of charming accents and the unveiling of six-pack abs. Well, maybe it was. It's no surprise when sex sells. But it's even better when sex sells for a good cause.
Daniel and Hugh, come back to Broadway anytime.