Broadway Bares :: The Solo Act
It's become a timeless tradition and a rite of passage among every chorus boy (and girl) who is decidedly set on making his mark under the bright lights of the Great White Way in New York City. But at its core the annual vaudeville burlesque antics of "Broadway Bares" - as provocative and saucy as it is every season - is the Broadway community's greatest fundraising effort dedicated to supporting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
With a history that dates back to 1992, the very first "Broadway Bares" was little more than a series of solo strips on the stage of New York City's legendary dance club Splash, and back then the creator of this spectacle, the lip-smacking and dashingly handsome Jerry Mitchell was letting out all stops to raise funds for what was then one of the greatest challenges affecting our community.
But now some 20 years later, HIV/AIDS is no longer the same epidemic it was when it first cast its shadow, and "Broadway Bares" has continued to grow creating its own mystique. Its charitable efforts have franchised even to a parallel event that recently took over the Las Vegas nightlife. Mitchell, the creator and executive producer of "Broadway Bares," was humbly pleased by the success of that event and enthusiastic about what "Broadway Bares XXII" has in store for this year.
Once Upon a Time...
"It’s all the fairy tale endings you wish you read when you were a gay boy," Mitchell teased. Even revealing the show’s theme (and poster artwork) has become as hotly anticipated as the show’s scantily clad cast. "Happy Endings" is scheduled to return to its home at the Roseland Ballroom on June 17 and is directed this year by Lee Wilkins. But if you can’t wait until June to get your bare on, rest assured that there is another night of naked splendor that is as much a draw as the main event in the works.
The precursor to the wonderfully more elaborate ballroom event is a more intimate affair. "Broadway Bares: Solo Strips" will for one-night only, Sunday, May 6, put some of the show’s more stunning acts right in your lap - so to speak. "This is the beginning of the season for us," Mitchell says of "Solo Strips." "It’s the hottest boys on Broadway, starting things off, each doing their own thing. It’s always a fun show."
This year will be no exception, with ten of the hottest performers from "Broadway Bares" getting things off to a rousing start and tastefully taking it all off for the this special evening dedicated to supporting the work of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
With Splash in the midst of renovations, the usual stage that hosts "BB: Solo Strips" is unavailable. Fortunately, Mitchell was able to court long-time friends John Blair and Beto Sutter to lend the 30 foot electrically charged stage at the XL Cabaret elevating this year’s spectacle to all new heights.
"You realize how fortunate we are here in New York," said Mitchell. "For me it’s all about community. I found that environment in theater...and through "Broadway Bares" I’ve been able to extend that feeling to everyone. There’s strength in what we can do together."
In The Spotlight...
It’s important to note that the annual efforts to mount "Broadway Bares," undoubtedly the greatest, and sexiest, burlesque show of the season is all accomplished on volunteer efforts. Everyone donates of his/her time and is committed to the spectacle that is one of the country’s biggest fund-raising events of its kind. It doesn’t go unnoticed that the caliber of performers participating include Broadway’s best and hardest working talent today.
"I absolutely fell in love with the concept, the idea, the show itself" shared choreographer Nick Kenkel who has been a part of the show for 11 years, and is currently part of the cast of the winning revival of "Evita". "Every year, it’s the one night that I look forward to the most - it’s the best night in New York City." And certainly the one-night where Kenkel’s fans can see the fetchingly talented stud when he joins the team of spotlight performers featured in Solo Strips.
Josh Buscher, who is in the fan-favorite "Priscilla Queen of the Desert," recalled in his college days watching the bootleg DVDs that were all the rage before the advent of YouTube and the Internet. "I wanted to be on Broadway so that I could do ’Broadway Bares’," the startlingly attractive golden-boy revealed. "I love that you look out into the audience and see a thousand people just having a great time, and the camaraderie that it builds among us in the Broadway community."
Broadway Continues to Care
It doesn’t fall short on either of these stunning performers, that at its core "Broadway Bares" is dedicated to the work of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. "It’s beyond us," Busher added. "We know we’re doing it for the great cause." Kenkel is particularly excited about returning for ’Solo Strips’ as well. "This is how the show started...it’s great to bring it back to its roots," Kenkel commented, also elaborating: "This is a great way to continue to raise awareness about safe sex and HIV - acknowledging why we’re all really here." It’s work that none of us can do on our own, but as Jerry Mitchell and his cast continue to demonstrate, through community we’re unstoppable.
Come out and support as Broadway’s talent bares it all again - heart and soul, talent and sweat, muscle and gumption, sexy and solo - for one-night only...leading up to an unforgettable happy ending.
Broadway Bares: Solo Strips benefitting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is on for one-night only on Sunday, May 6 @ 9pm at the XL Nightclub located at 512 West 42nd Street in New York City. A limited number of reserved table seats will be available for $25. General admission is $10 and tickets are now on sale at www.broadwaybares.com.