Broadway fans celebrated the 29th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction by bidding on and buying everything from tickets to a bevy of opening night performances to custom-made music mixes, from autographed musical phrases to once-in-a-lifetime theatrical experiences. The result: a new fundraising record of $756,655.
The biggest day of the year for Broadway fans brought tens of thousands of theatre lovers into Times Square, Shubert Alley and onto West 44th Street on Sunday, September 27, 2015. They were greeted by 74 tables full of Broadway treasures and 68 of Broadway’s brightest stars at the Autograph Table and Photo Booth. In addition, more than 200 auction lots were offered in live and silent auctions throughout the day.
The tables of this year’s flea market represented Broadway and Off-Broadway's top shows, theatre owners, producing organizations, unions, guilds, marketing groups, ticket agencies, concessionaires and fan clubs. They raised a remarkable $385,915.
Fans added a wide range of items to their theatrical treasure chests: flash drives with custom music mixes by Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda; Ariel’s original wedding dress from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which made one fan particularly happy; bracelets made from reused guitar strings from Hedwig and the Angry Inch; as well as costume pieces, vintage Playbills and show posters, CDs and collectible records, costume sketches and much more.
Many Broadway stars appearing at the tables created some unforgettable moments for their fans. Les Misérables’ Chris McCarrell invited fans to join him in Marius Karaoke (or "Mari-oke"). Hamilton's Anthony Ramos live-rapped his character's part in the song "Take a Break." Matilda The Musical’s cast of kids broke into spontaneous singing of the show’s anthem "When I Grow Up," to the cheering screams of excited crowds.
The Top 10 tables were: Hamilton with $22,624; Wicked with $21,916; TDF’s fan favorite "Pik-a-Tik" with $15,212; Creative Goods Merchandise with $13,745; Finding Neverland with $13,434; ATPAM with $12,850; The Phantom of the Opera with $12,187; Something Rotten! with $11,405; Stage Directors & Choreographers Society with $10,944; and a combination table featuring the fondly remembered Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Mamma Mia! and On the Town with $10,385.
The Grand Auction included the live auction, which concluded the day under the bright lights of Times Square raising a record $295,500, and a series of silent auctions, which were held every 30 minutes throughout the day.
The most popular lots of the live auction were once-in-a-lifetime walk-on roles in many of Broadway’s biggest hits. The top-selling lot of the day left its winning bidder saying "yeah" to an appearance onstage in Kinky Boots, which raised $13,000. Other favorites included a journey to Oz in Wicked, which went for $11,500, the ultimate Les Misérables experience with a high bid of $10,000, an appearance in Chicago that went for $8,500 and a walk-on role in Beautiful - The Carole King Musical that raised $7,500. In all, the opportunities to appear in Broadway shows raised $84,000.
Also popular were VIP tickets and backstage meet-and-greets with cast members of this season’s first smash hit Hamilton. Three different packages offering the chance to meet Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr. and Jonathan Groff, sold for a collective $16,950. The "Ultimate Seth" experience with SiriusXM host Seth Rudetsky went to three lucky winners for $6,000 and a visit to the set of the ABC hit Nashville sold for $6,250. Opening night tickets and party passes to 13 of this season's most-anticipated Broadway shows raised $33,350. One of the top choices was this spring's Tuck Everlasting, starring Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who helped push the bidding to $3,400.
Broadway and TV favorite Bryan Batt and Broadway Cares' esteemed auctioneer Lorna Kelly again entertainingly handled hosting duties for the live auction.
Earlier in the day, actors Stephen Wallem and Kirsten Wyatt with auctioneer Dan Perry co-hosted the silent auction, which featured 132 items in groups that rotated every 30 minutes. The silent auction raised $75,240. The handwritten musical phrase "Sherry" from Jersey Boys, signed by Bob Gaudio and the late Bob Crewe, was the top silent auction item, fetching $4,750. As in years past, other musical phrases handwritten and signed by Broadway composers and lyricists were big draws. "Santa Fe" from Newsies went for $2,500 and "Ring of Keys" from Fun Home raised $1,200.
Other silent auction lots making an impact: a Love Letters script and poster, signed by Carol Burnett and Brian Dennehy, raised $4,000; an autographed edition of Eddie Shapiro’s Nothing Like a Dame book, signed by more than a dozen of Broadway’s biggest "dames," raised $1,600; and Hedwig and Angry Inch drumheads, signed by its Tony-winning star Neil Patrick Harris, went for $550.
The fan-favorite Autograph Table and Photo Booth raised $20,866. The 68 stars at the table represented many of Broadway’s current hits and upcoming shows, as well as NBC’s upcoming The Wiz Live!. The lineup rotated throughout the day, always arriving to cheering crowds on the deck of Junior’s restaurant in Shubert Alley.
Those appearing included Michael Arden, Annaleigh Ashford, Bryan Batt, Richard H. Blake, Heidi Blickenstaff, Stephanie J. Block, Sierra Boggess, John Bolton, Matt Bogart, Alex Brightman, Danny Burstein, Haven Burton, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Scott J. Campbell, John Cariani, Geneva Carr, Michael Cerveris, Kathleen Chalfant, Chuck Cooper, Leanne Cope, Gavin Creel, Brandon Victor Dixon, Laura Dreyfuss, Robert Fairchild, Jonathan Groff, Ann Harada, Jessica Hecht, Cherry Jones, Adam Kantor, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Laura Michelle Kelly, Andy Kelso, Alix Korey, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, Telly Leung, Jose Llana, Jake Lucas, Sydney Lucas, Rebecca Luker, Erin Mackey, Beth Malone, Lesli Margherita, Andy Mientus, Ruthie Ann Miles, Bebe Neuwirth, Christopher John O’Neill, Brad Oscar, Ben Platt, Colin Quinn, Kate Reinders, Alice Ripley, Chita Rivera, Robert Sella, Christopher Sieber, Emily Skeggs, Phillipa Soo, Jarrod Spector, Sarah Stiles, Rachel Tucker, Brandon Uranowitz, Quinn VanAntwerp, Max von Essen, Shanice Williams, Julie White and Josh Young. The incomparable Jim Caruso of Jim Caruso's Cast Party at Birdland returned to host the table, joined by Ben Cameron, host of the weekly benefit show Broadway Sessions at the Laurie Beechman Theatre.
The 29 editions of the Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction have raised a grand total of $11.8 million.
The 29th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction was sponsored by The New York Times and United Airlines.
Photos by Daniel T. Gramkee, Joy Nelson, Monica Simoes and Jonathan Tischler
Video by Mo Brady