News Column

Kinky Booty! Broadway Dancers Get Nude for Good Cause

June 12, 2013

Elisabeth Vincentelli

The Tonys may be the Great White Way's most famous event, but it isn't the craziest, most over-the-top one.

That honor goes to Broadway Bares, the annual fund-raiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, in which sexy chorus boys and girls are suddenly seized by the urge to take off their clothes.

Add an assortment of game guest stars - past editions have included Sutton Foster, Kristin Chenoweth and Vanessa Williams - and you've got yourself a hell of a party.

Broadway Bares began in 1992, the brainchild of choreographer- director Jerry Mitchell - now helming the Tony-winning "Kinky Boots." With seven dancers shaking their tushes at the gay bar Splash, the first edition raised $8,000.

On June 23, the latest installment plays two shows at Roseland Ballroom. With a cast of 240, its haul may very well top last year's net of $1,254,176.

This year's guests include Judith Light, Billy Porter and TV's Andy Cohen, but as director Nick Kenkel points out, "the gypsies are the stars. This time, the ensemble is not way in the back."

Subtitled "United Strips of America," the new show follows a male couple on a road trip during which they encounter buff, undressed lovelies of both sexes - each number is based on a different state. In the Illinois scene, during a Prohibition flashback, the dancers strip to buy booze in Chicago; in Maine, a fisherman falls into the drink, losing his clothes along the way.

Previously, routines have been set to pop hits - anything from "Boogie Wonderland" to "Poker Face" - or original scores. This year's opening number, with a whopping 32 dancers, is by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, who wrote the musicals "The Wedding Singer" and "Elf."

And for once, being in the minority is an advantage.

Laughing, Kenkel says that "the luckiest people in the room are the straight guys. They have less competition, so they have better odds of going home with a beautiful girl!"

Broadway Bares 23: United Strips of America plays Roseland Ballroom June 23. For tickets ($65 to $750) go to broadwaycares.org or call 212-840-0770.

STEPHANIE GIBSON

An archetypal bubbly blond chorine, Gibson struts her stuff in "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella."

All Broadway Bares routines end up the same way: with the dancers as close to naked as legally possible. The fun lies in how they get there.

"I don't want to spoil anything!" the 28-year-old Texan demures when asked about her role in the Utah number. "I'll just say that I'm playing a bride who doesn't realize she's going to be a sister- wife. I'm looking forward to it since I love comedy."

PETER NELSON

Medicine's loss is Broadway's gain: This quiet Utah boy majored in neuroscience then switched to hoofing. His first Broadway Bares, in 2011, was memorable: "I was in a number set to Rihanna's 'S&M' and ended up in knee-high boots and a jock strap," the 28-year-old recalls.

Currently in "Cinderella," Nelson is coy about this year's routine: "It involves typical things like the Dallas Cowboys and cheerleaders," he says. "Texas has a lot to offer, and it will be well displayed."

ALLYSON CARR

Now playing one of Sophie's girlfriends in "Mamma Mia!," this born-and-bred New Yorker - hello, Staten Island! - will perform in a number set in California.

For this, her seventh Broadway Bares appearance, Carr says she'll do her best to top her favorite number to date.

"It was 'Boardwalk' in the 'Strip-opoly' show three years ago," says Carr, who gives her age as "around 30."

We got to play characters from 'Jersey Shore' as well as dance. We were spray-[tanned] orange [and] when we took off our tops we had American-flag pasties."

JAMES BROWN III

Now in "Wicked," this soft-spoken Californian - who'll appear in the scene set in Georgia - is a longtime fan of Broadway Bares.

Like most dancers, the 32-year-old also raises money in Broadway Cares' "strip-a-thon," and calls his loyal fans "the Brownie troupe."

"Depending on the amount of money they pledge, I give a signed 'Wicked' Playbill or poster, or even a backstage tour," he says.

Participating in the annual spectacle is its own reward: "It's special because you're rallying around this one cause," Brown says, "but you also have the best in the business putting on a show. It's like an all-star game."

Originally published by and ELISABETH VINCENTELLI.

(c) 2013 The New York Post. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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