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Role Reversal at “Broadway Backwards”

Musical theater guys have sometimes been heard to complain that their female colleagues get the best parts and the best songs in shows such as Mame, Hello, Dolly!, Funny Girl, and Wicked. But that’s okay, because female musical theater performers have been known to covet the great male roles and songs: Harold Hill in The Music Man, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd, et al.

Well, every year since 2006, Broadway Backwards has been giving top-tier performers the opportunity to partly redress any perceived imbalance. The annual event, which benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City, spotlights some of  Broadway’s biggest names singing songs originally written for the opposite gender — women singing songs written for men, and men singing songs written for women — thereby allowing audiences to experience some of the most popular standards of the American musical theater in a new context.

This year’s event, Broadway Backwards 7, will take place at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (302 West 45th Street) on Monday, March 5 at 8pm, with a star-studded line-up including Tony Award-winners Betty Buckley, LaChanze, and Len Cariou; Tony Award-nominees Charles Busch, Robin De Jesús, Nancy Dussault, Adam Pascal, and Andrew Rannells; two-time Emmy Award-winning comedian Bruce Vilanch; and television icon George Takei, a.k.a. Mr. Sulu from Star Trek.

Also scheduled to perform are  Bryan Batt, Sierra Boggess, Jim Brochu, Dan Butler, Mario Cantone, Jenn Colella, Cicily Daniels, Harvey Evans, Anthony Federov, Barrett Foa, Shawna Hamic, Jackie Hoffman, Telly Leung, Jessie Mueller, Brian Charles Rooney, Jason Michael Snow, and Elizabeth Stanley.

The show will once again be directed and choreographed by Robert Bartley, who created the very first Broadway Backwards in 2006. It will feature musical direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, lighting design by Ryan O’Gara, costume design by Philip Heckman, and additional choreography by Stephanie Klemons and Patrick O’Neill.

Having attended several past editions of Broadway Backwards, I can testify that the show is always a total blast. And if you can afford VIP admission, you’ll be treated to all of the onstage festivities as well as a post-performance reception with the stars.  For further info, or to purchase tickets at any level, go to www.broadwaycares.org/backwards2012.

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