Broadway Bares: On Demand, the 26th edition of the annual burlesque-style fundraiser in New York, earned $1,482,724 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, slightly down from last year’s record-breaking total of $1,598,501. Attendees watched 198 of the hottest male and female dancers in New York City performing with an absolute minimum of costuming.
For the fourth year in a row, Nick Kenkel manned the director's chair for Broadway’s biggest, barest burlesque show, which offered a series of parodies of tabloid TV shows. The 2016 edition of the fundraiser was presented June 19 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in midtown Manhattan for two performances, 9:30 PM and midnight.
Security was extra strict at the event, which occurred just a week after the terror shootings at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. Joined by Broadway Bares founder Jerry Mitchell, Kenkel closed the proceedings on a serious moment, saying the organizers engaged in “soul-searching” about whether it was appropriate to go ahead with the event, but decided to go ahead and dedicate the performance to “our family in Orlando.”
He said the organizers concluded that despite setbacks like Orlando, “the road forward is so positive and so assured” that the show had to go on.
And go on, it did, filled with lots of double- (and single-) entendre before a sea of heads, mainly male. Most numbers involved stripping and stripteasing down to a g-string and/or pasties, topped off with the g-string being whipped away while the main dancer’s back was turned.
The performance ended with a “rotation,” in which audience members were urged to stuff $20 bills into those g-strings.
On Demand opened with a scene-setting segment, Bares TV, in which the staff of a Today show-like TV morning crew is told that their show, Crack of Dawn, is in the ratings basement, and the only way to create a rise in the ratings is to change to an all-nude format. The number, personally staged by Kenkel, showed the resulting makeover, which consisted of buff dancers ripping the hosts’ clothes off. The segment had original music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Amanda Green and a book by Hunter Bell and Wade Dooley.
Sweet Treats, was the Bares take on a cooking show. James Harkness choreographed a number that started with the chef whipping off her apron, but not stopping there. The scantily-clad chefs were happy to let the other dancers taste what was in their mixing bowls.
Get Pumped offered a gym-themed TV show in which flesh-colored gym-wear gave way to flesh-colored flesh, with the leading man ending in a gold jockstrap. Laya Barak choreographed.
Soaking Wet offered an extremely naughty weather report, with dancers trying in vain to hide from the rain behind pulsating clear plastic umbrellas, and quickly wriggling out of their wet things. Brice Mousset was the choreographer.
In Daytime Dramatico! Kenkel recreating a high-spirited Latino-style soap opera, complete with feuding leading ladies who pulled each others’ hair and finally ripped away each others’ gowns.
Kellen Stancil provided the only all-male segment, a sports program titled Bases Loaded, in which the ripped athletes returned to the locker room to compare bats.
In a similar vein, Nailed It! Presented a spoof of home-repair shows, with muscular dancers showing off their power tools to Michael Lee Scott’s choreography.
Throne Games was Eamon Foley’s special salute to the savage Dothraki passages in Game of Thrones, complete with a blonde queen, flying dragons, and plenty of loincloth-clad horsemen.
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Guest performers included Tony and Grammy Award winner Billy Porter, Olivier Award winner Lesli Margherita, two-time Tony nominee Christopher Sieber, Frankie J. Grande, Daniel Dae Kim, Michael Longoria and NY1 News’ Frank DiLella and Roma Torre.
The show also included special “on demand” video appearances by seven-time Grammy Award winner Gloria Estefan, Tony nominee Andrew Rannells, Emmy Award nominee Wendy Williams, RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bob the Drag Queen, Cassandra Peterson as her horror hostess alter ego Elvira and HGTV’s Property Brothers, Drew Scott and Jonathan Scott.