The saying goes, “Give the public what it wants and they’ll turn out!”
That maxim proved true on Sunday, February 15, as dedicated bear collectors and bidders, loyal sponsors and an incredible amount of creative effort from Broadway’s top designers, costume shops, individual wardrobe personnel and teddy bear and doll artists all helped The Broadway Bears XII raise a recession-defying $152,116, – over $20,000 more than 2008’s auction total of $130,878.
Staged at BB King Blues Club & Grill, the 12th annual edition of the event was again hosted by Bryan Batt (#7), a Broadway favorite and the current star of AMC’s hit television series Mad Men. A total of 45 teddy bears, donated by the North American Bear Company and transformed into uniquely costumed, handmade, one-of-a-kind, collectibles, raised $127,400 through online bids, telephone bids, and, of course, live bids from over 200 eager participants in the room all responding to the persuasive charm of BC/EFA’s own auctioneer, Lorna Kelly (#8), at the podium.
To date, a dapper dozen Broadway Bears auctions have raised nearly $1,650,000 for BC/EFA.
The evening’s top bids went to:
- Sir Robin (#1) from Spamalot ($16,000), created by JoAnna Cayot and signed by Clay Aiken;
- Alan Strang and Nugget (#2) “the horse” from Equus ($10,000), created by Nicolas Putvinski and signed by Daniel Radcliffe, Lorenzo Pisoni and Richard Griffiths;
- Glinda (#3) from Wicked ($7,000), created by John Henson and signed by Kristin Chenoweth and Kendra Kassebaum;
- Growltigger (#4) from Cats ($5,500), created by Therese Stadelmeier-Tresco and signed by Stephen Hanan and Betty Buckley;
- Tommy Walker from The Who’s Tommy ($4,000), created by Andy Wallach and signed by Michael Cerveris;
- A set of The Billys from Billy Elliot ($4,000), including Boxing Billy; Dream Ballet Billy; Electricity Billy, and Finale Billy. This bear was created by Jessica Scoblilck and signed by David Alvarez; Tommy Batchelor; Kiril Kulish and Trent Kowalik;
- Ashley from Starlight Express ($3,800), created by Andy Wallach and signed by Andrea McArdle;
- Betty Haynes (#5) from Irving Berlin’s White Christmas ($3,700), created by Carrie Robbins and signed by Kerry O’Malley, Stephen Bogardus, Jeffry Denman and Meredith Patterson, and,
- Shrek (#6) from Shrek, the Musical ($3,600) created by Tricorne & Lynne Mackey Studios and signed by Brian d’Arcy James.
This year offered another first, a shout-out to the men and women on the job behind the scenes, “The Local One – IATSE Bear” (#9) (complete with gloves, full work belt, union card and ghost light and presented by BC/EFA volunteer, Jim Newman). Created by BC/EFA’s Carol A. Ingram, it sold for $3,400, thanks in part to the supportive presence of Local One President Jim Claffey and BC/EFA Trustee and Local One Secretary Bobby Score, both of whom attended with their families and other Local One officials.
The evening began with bustling cocktail reception (featuring special décor by David McKeown) at which VIPs, special guests and eager bidders could see all this year’s bears on display together and meet the amazingly talented and dedicated designers who created them.
And, this year, for the first time, three Broadway bears had their own specific set pieces. The “Nellie Forbush” bear – based on the current revival of South Pacific, signed by Kelli O’Hara and presented by “Bloody Mary”, Loretta Ables Sayre (#10) – featured the plucky nurse in the shower, complete with bubbles, “washing that man right out of” her bear hair, whileHairspray’s “Edna Turnblad”, signed by Harvey Fierstein, presented by “Motor Mouth Maybelle”, Mary Bond Davis (#11), arrived, as she does in the show’s finale, via a 40” can of Ultra-Clutch. “Tommy Walker” of Tommy fame came complete with a lighted pinball machine, signed by and pictured here with the Broadway’s original “Tommy”, Michael Cerveris (#12).
Both collectors and designers were in awe of the “Child Catcher” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (#13), an exact-scale replica of the costume worn in the Broadway show, constructed of leather and fabric scraps used in that production and created by D. Barak Stribling.
A Dazzling Parade of Bears
Douglas Braverman’s clever opening number – delivered by Forbidden Broadway’s Christine Pedi, and Shrek’s Christopher Sieber (#14) – launched this year’s show and auction. With musical director Michael Lavine (#15) at the helm, the duo riffed on a selection of show tunes, including “Food, Glorious Food” from Oliver! and “If My Friends Could See Me Now” from Sweet Charity:
The sweet White Christmas bear looks gorgeous in bright red.
We’ve got Sir Thomas More whilst he still had his head
Mame and Wicked still have theirs…
…you’re gonna love ‘em,
When you see our Broadway Bears!!”
Broadway stars stopped by B.B. Kings, to assist in auctioning the bears they had signed, generating special excitement for the costumed critters representing roles they had either created or interpreted with unforgettable distinction. On hand were: Kerry Butler– Xanadu (#16); Blake Daniel and Emma Hunton – Spring Awakening (#17); Kevin Burrows – Beauty and the Beast (#18); Jennifer Smith – The Drowsy Chaperone (#19); Christine Pedi – Forbidden Broadway (#20); Alli Mauzey –Wicked (#21); Ann Harada – Avenue Q (#22); Christopher Sieber – Spamalot (#23); Michael Berresse – A Chorus Line (#24); Kerry O’Malley – White Christmas (#25); Eric Gunhus – The Producers (#26); Kate Shindle – Legally Blonde (#27).
Also on hand were Billy Elliot’s “4 Billys” themselves – Trent Kowalik, Kiril Kulish, Tommy Batchlor, David Alvarez (#28); who not only signed their bears, but boosted bids by offering a backstage tour and a special prop letter from the show to the evening’s winning bidder.
Perhaps the biggest name was two-time Tony Award® winner and Broadway favorite Bernadette Peters (#29), making her first appearance at Broadway Bears, though her signature has graced the costumed backsides of cute cubs based on a number of her well-loved roles, including Annie Oakley (Annie Get Your Gun); Mabel (Mack and Mabel); Dot (Sunday in the Park with George); the Witch (Into the Woods), and Emma in Song and Dance.
For The Broadway Bears XII, Bernadette presented Mama Rose from her acclaimed revival of Gypsy (2003). One of threeGypsy-based bears up for bid, Peters’ Mama Rose was complemented by bears representing Ethel Merman’s original Rose (1959) and Laura Benanti’s Louise, from the 2008 revival.
Looking Back in Amazement
“It is truly amazing to consider that over 500 handmade Broadway Bears have raised more than $1.6 million for Broadway Cares,” said Scott Stevens, the BC/EFA producer who has lead the BC/EFA production team in the successful execution of these 12 outstanding, outrageous auctions.
“Who might have ever guessed what gold we were being given when the very first costumed bear – Carol Channing in Hello Dolly – came through the BC/EFA office door in 1997?”
Stevens continued, “The continued extraordinary success of these evenings
is a testament to the brilliant talents and generosity of so many – the original costume designers; bear designers and design teams; the celebrities who sign them and have come to love them as much as our bidders and, of course, our intrepid BC/EFA volunteers. They all come together to make each individual “bare” North American bear a true Broadway star!”
The Broadway Bears Backstage at BB King’s
BC/EFA is indebted to all the marvelously talented people who designed, outfitted, costumed, draped, frocked, dressed, shod, hatted, lipoed, painted, armored, tattooed, stuffed, wigged, bejeweled and feathered over 500 bears these last 12 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.
The evening ended with a taste of next year’s honey: two samples of bears which have already been created for The Broadway Bears XIII Auction in 2010, including a meticulously crafted “Griddlebone” from Cats, created by Therese Stadelmeier-Tresco, and “Song Liling” from M. Butterfly, created by Brionna McMahon (#33), complete with a beautifully detailed headdress and a resplendent costume finely detailed with dozens-of-hours worth of hand embroidery.
It’s never too early to think about placing a bid for The Broadway Bears XIII – coming in February 2010.
THE BROADWAY BEARS XII Costume Designers