Broadway Bears 11

Cyrano  Wicket The Little Mermaid Young Frankenstein

A delicious mix of physically-challenged heros (Cyrano) and heroines (Wicked), under-the-sea villains (The Little Mermaid) and misunderstood monsters (Young Frankenstein) came together to create a collector’s dream at the BROADWAY BEARS XI auction.

Held Sunday, February 17th, the event – hosted by Bryan Batt with Sotheby’s Lorna Kelly reprising her role as auctioneer – raised a grand total of $130,878.  To date the 11 Broadway Bears auctions have raised $1.5 million for BC/EFA.

Bryan and Lorna
Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy of BroadwayWorld.com

The auction’s 40 “naked” dark green bears were donated by the North American Bear Company and then bedecked by a large group of talented designers who spent countless hours creating detailed costumes. The evening’s top bids went to:

  • Sir Robin from Spamalot ($17,000), signed by Clay Aiken and David Hyde Pierce,
  • Pumba from The Lion King ($9,000),signed by Tom Alan Robbins,
  • The long-nosed hero from Cyrano de Bergerac ($8,000), signed by Jennifer Garner, Kevin Kline, and Daniel Sunjata,
  • Sea Witch Ursula from TheLittle Mermaid ($5,000), signed by Sherie Rene Scott,
  • Elphaba from Wicked ($5,000), signed by Idina Menzel,
  • Nala from The Lion King ($4,200), signed by Heather Headley, and
  • The monster from Young Frankenstein ($4,000), signed by Shuler Hensley and Mel Brooks.  

Many of the bears came with bonus gifts, including Kline’s prop nose from Cyrano and Shuler Hensley’s prosthetic forehead from Young Frankenstein.

Charles Busch’s Die Mommie Die! bear came with a prop basket packed with pills (sorry, just props), an autographed photo of Angela Arden, autographed poster, Die Mommie Die DVD, lip-stick pens and more, while the Maria bear from West Side Story, was signed by Carol Lawrence and came with a framed copy of the original 1957 Broadway poster signed by more than two dozen original cast members; DVD of Broadway Cares’ 2007 Gypsy of the Year’sWest Side Story tribute and ceremony.


And while all these bears are intense labors of love, Pumbaa, from The Lion King is an exact miniature replica of the original Broadway costume, taking over 200 hours of creative work.

Stuffed and Loving It

In addition to the inimitable banter between Kelly, Batt and their guest stars, the evening featured a lively opening number, performed by Christine Pedi (Talk Radio, Little Me) along with John Tracy Egan (The Little Mermaid), who riffed on a number of the show’s represented, including Spring Awakening with “Totally Stuffed.”

John Tracy Egan and Christine Pedi
Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy of BroadwayWorld.com

Several Broadway stars dropped by to lend their support to the event, including, Sebastian Arcelus (Jersey Boys), Jose Llana (Rent), Sarah Gettelfinger (Nine), Bill Ryall (How The Grinch Stole Christmas), Peter Gregus (Jersey Boys),  Jennifer Smith (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Mike McGowan (The Apple Tree), as well as Gavin Lee (Mary Poppins), Linda Balgord (The Pirate Queen) and her Pirate Queen co-star, Staphanie J. Block, currently starring as Elphaba in Wicked (see below).

Gavin Lee
Photo Credit: Ken Blauvelt

Linda Balgord  Stephanie J. Block
Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy of BroadwayWorld.com

“Broadway Bares is certainly the fartheset thing from ‘child’s play,” said newlyweds Block and Arcelus. “These bears are nothing short of very specific works of art. Great additions to a child’s bedroom, no doubt, but also collector’s items that preserve a little piece of our history in every stitch and detail. We were so taken with the evening’s energy that we are now the proud owners of our very own Fantine (Les Miserables) Bear!”

Design Details Make the Difference

Richard St. Clair, Terry Sipress and Briona McMahon have produced some of the most impressive bears in the event’s 11-year history, and their creations have raised more than $150,000 for BC/EFA in the process.*

This year, St. Clair created the Jack Jefferson bear, based on James Earl Jones’ character in The Great White Hope; Sipress made the Audra McDonald Sarah Brown Eyes bear from Ragtime and Baroness Bomburst from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (see below), while McMahon’s creations were this year’s auction block superstars. She not only created the sassy and very popular Pruddie and Rhetta Cupp bear from Pump Boys and Dinettes, but crafted the evening’s big winner, Sir Robin fromSpamalot (see below). Combined, her disparate duo sold for $19,200!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang   Spamalot

A costume designer and former opera singer, McMahon has shown a fondness for low-key, wryly amusing projects like 2005’s I Am My Own Wife bear and the hilarious “old lady” bear, complete with rolling walker, from The Producers. She brings a gleeful obsession with details to her work. Case in point, her Pruddie bear is holding an edible strawberry pie and her little old lady had actual miniature checks in her purse, made out to “cash.”

A recently retired childbirth/women’s health educator, Sipress studied at the Rhode Island School of Design before marrying and having two children, one of whom, Matthew, became a Broadway dancer. All of Terry’s bears show a commitment to details and accuracy; she’ll spend days searching fabric stores and flea markets for the right fabric. For period costumes like Eliza Doolittle or this year’s Ragtime garment, she will subject material to repeated dying and bleachings until she achieves the right color, texture and scale.

“I’m a terrible fitter,” she admits. “That’s why I love designing for bears. They always stand still and when I prick them with needles, they don’t complain.”

A freelance designer who frequently works for the Opera Company of Philadelphia, St. Clair, one of the auction’s first designers, has immortalized some of the great ladies of the stage and screen in bear form. His creations include: Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, Maggie Smith in Lettice and Lovage, Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd, Cher in Come Back to the Five and Dime…, and Debbie Reynolds in Irene. Financially, his biggest success was based on Meryl Streep’s character in Happy End, which sold for $22,000 in 2004.

The designers agree that all the effort is worth it. “I always wanted to be a costume designer…since high school,” St. Clair says. “It’s great to do something I love (on most days) and get paid for it, and if I could spend my whole year designing Broadway Cares bears, I definitely would.”

McMahon adds, “I don’t’ have much money to give to charity, except for my annual $60.00 to PBS, but I’ve got fingers and a little bit of knowledge. So this is my way of contributing.”

BC/EFA is indebted to all the marvelously creative and talented people who
designed, outfitted, costumed, draped, frocked, dressed, shod, hatted, lipoed, painted, armored, tattooed, stuffed, wigged, bejeweled and feathered over 450 bears
these last 11 years.

Without their extraordinary artistry and most generous contribution of time, talent and precision, these exquisite one-of-a-kind cubs would not exist and would not have become such a wonderful part of BC/EFA’s fundraising legacy.


Costume Designers
Photo Credit: Ken Blauvelt

Front row L to R : Maryanne Oldenburg, Kristin Costa, T.J. Greenway,
Brionna McMahon, Julie Song and Andrew Benepe
Second row L to R:  Noel Noblitt, Joanna Cayot, Susan Bolt, Terry Sipress,
Gloria J. Winer, Ashley Singer, Judith Marsh and Michael Bottari
Third row L to R:  Nancy A. Palmatier, Karl A. Ruckdeschel, Zöe Morsette,
John Henson, David Kaley, Sam Hill, Sam Bennett, Jenni Hanson, Ronald Case and Randy Carfagno