The annual Broadway Backwards concert is streaming online for free to benefit both Broadway Cares and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. This unique musical event features gender-bent twists on classic and modern favorites and boasts of an all-star cast of musical theater veterans.
The show explores how the isolation of the pandemic has taken its toll on the LGBTQIA+ community, centering on an isolated New Yorker (played by Jay Armstrong Johnson) who embarks on a fantastical journey through dreams, guided by a late-night television host (played by Jenn Colella).
The opening number stars Stephanie J. Block, Deborah Cox, and Lea Salonga, and the show features performances and appearances by Matt Bomer, Darren Criss, Airana DeBose, Robin De Jesús, Cynthia Erivo, Joshua Henry, Cherry Jones, Kelli O’Hara, and Jim Parsons. New performances are also combined with full numbers from previous shows.
Performances from previous editions of the show feature Ward Billeisen, Charl Brown, Tituss Burgess, Joshua Buscher-West, Len Cariou, Carolee Carmello, Jamie Cepero, Bryan Terrell Clark, Darren Criss, Steven Cutts, Ariana DeBose, Cynthia Erivo, Garlen Gilliland, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Andy Kelso, Eddie Korbich, Marty Lawson, Michael McElroy, Bonnie Milligan, Debra Monk, Alfie Parker Jr., Brandon Pearson, Eric Petersen, Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, Andrew Rannells, Alex Ringler, Chita Rivera, Michael James Scott, Ryan Steele, Dennis Stowe, Lillias White, Curtis Wiley and Tony Yazbeck.
The star-studded finale includes new performances by Amy Adams, James Monroe Iglehart, Cheyenne Jackson, L Morgan Lee, Raymond J. Lee, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Ruthie Ann Miles, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jessie Mueller, Kelli O’Hara, Karen Olivo, Bernadette Peters, Sis and Elizabeth Stanley. The finale also includes special appearances by Debbie Allen, Matt Bomer, Brenda Braxton, Len Cariou, Glenn Close, Loretta Devine, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cherry Jones, Aasif Mandvi, Michael McElroy, Javier Muñoz, Jim Parsons, Eve Plumb, Roslyn Ruff and Tony Yazbeck.
The event also includes special guests Chasten Buttigieg, Anderson Cooper, Ariana DeBose, Don Lemon, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Robin Roberts, Tony Shalhoub and Ben Vereen.
The show was written and directed by Broadway Backwards creator Robert Bartley, with musical supervision by Mary-Mitchell Campbell, musical direction by Ted Arthur, and photography and video editing by Eamon Foley. Other members of the creative team include Joshua Buscher-West 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.
Broadway Backwards 2020 had been scheduled for March 16 but was cancelled days before due to the pandemic. It will be available to view until April 3.
While the stream is free, donations are being accepted for Broadway Cares and The Center. Every dollar donated will help those affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and other critical illnesses receive meals, lifesaving medication, mental health support, and other health and wellness services.
Watch the full show below: