The annual Broadway Backwards concert will take place virtually this year on Tuesday, March 30th at 8PM EST. The concert will take a hopeful, musical look toward life post-pandemic with a bevy of Broadway’s biggest names. Broadway Backwards (#broadwaybackwards) is produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and benefits Broadway Cares and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. The free online event, where gender doesn’t matter but love does, can be viewed at broadwaycares.org/backwards2021 and on the Broadway Cares YouTube channel. It will be available on demand through Saturday, April 3.
In this virtual edition of Broadway Backwards, the show will explore how the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic has specifically affected the LGBTQ community. The show will feature Jay Armstrong Johnson as an isolated New Yorker who dreams a fantastical journey guided by a late-night television host, portrayed by Jenn Colella. New performances will be merged with full numbers from previous editions of Broadway Backwards to create a Broadway Backwards that feels distinctly of the moment.
This year’s streaming event also includes a special opening number featuring Stephanie J. Block, Deborah Cox and Lea Salonga, plus performances and appearances by Matt Bomer, Darren Criss, Ariana DeBose, Robin De Jesús, Cynthia Erivo, Joshua Henry, Cherry Jones, Kelli O’Hara and Jim Parsons. More of this year's special guests will be announced in the coming weeks.
Creator Robert Bartley will return as writer and director for this virtual version of the show. He will be joined by Mary-Mitchell Campbell as music supervisor, Ted Arthur as music director and EamonFoley as director of photography and video editor. Joshua Buscher-West joins as associate director, Nick Connors as orchestrator, Benedict Braxton-Smith as music producer and audio engineer, Matt Kraus as sound designer and Samantha Rodriguez as costume designer.
The 2020 edition of Broadway Backwards was scheduled for March 16 and was canceled just days before the show on March 12 when all of Broadway and theaters nationwide shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. What began as a small, grassroots concert performed at The Center in 2006 quickly grew into a highly anticipated event presented in Broadway’s best theatres. In total, Broadway Backwards has raised more than $5.3 million for Broadway Cares and TheCenter.
While the stream is free, donations will be accepted for Broadway Cares, the philanthropic heart of Broadway, and The Center, the heart and home of New York City’s LGBTQ+ community. Every dollar donated will help those isolated, stigmatized and affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other critical illnesses receive meals, lifesaving medication, mental health support and other health and wellness services. The presenting sponsor of this year’s Broadway Backwards is Morgan Stanley. The event also is generously sponsored by The New York Times.