‘Backwards 7’ looks forward

Alan Cumming and the “Broadway Backwards” cast perform “Don’t Tell Mama” from “Cabaret” in 2011.

Seven years ago, theater vet Robert Bartley was looking for a way to give back to New York’s GLBT community. But he wanted it to go beyond the usual charity concert. That’s when the idea struck: taking everyone’s favorite Broadway numbers and gender-swapping the roles, so men perform classically female roles and vice versa. “In making the switch, [the songs] mean something more, something different, to the gay and lesbian audience,” Bartley explains. “You hear it in a way that suddenly has a personal meaning that’s very powerful.”

After increasingly successful years, “Broadway Backwards 6” raised a record-breaking $281,243 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in 2011. On March 5, “Broadway Backwards 7” hopes to do it again. “I heard from a little bird at Broadway Cares that we may just break last year’s record on Monday, but we’ll need to sell every last ticket,” the show’s creator/director says. “But it’s not about breaking records. It’s about helping more people.”

Bartley tells us Robin De Jesus is singing “My Fair Lady,” and Betty Buckley will do “one of the greatest (and bloodiest) Stephen Sondheim musicals.” Also onstage are Adam Pascal, Andrew Rannells and George Takei. “Oh, and we’ll have one of the great duets from ‘Chess.’ And there will be a little ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Aida’ … I think that’s enough for now. You’ll see the rest on Monday.”


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