SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2007
On Sunday, February 11, a decade of Broadway Bears paraded across the stage of BB King’s on 42nd Street to bring in a staggering $131,000. This bear-hug represents the work of more than 100 skilled designers, crafters and creators and a $20,000 increase in gains over BEARS IX, which was held last May due to the February blizzard.
For the 5th year, BEARS was hosted by Broadway Cares’ dear friends, Bryan Batt and auctioneer, Lorna Kelly, of Sotheby’s. Among the many celebrity presenters on hand were Capathia Jenkins (Caroline, Or Change) presenting the “Jiminy Glick” bear from Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, signed by her co-star, from an original design by Jess Goldstein; Josh Strickland fronting his signature role in the form of a scantily-clad Tarzan bare (vine included) – crafted by Gloria J. “Mimi” Winer, from an original design by Bob Crowley; Patrick Page with his Mr. Grinch bear from last years’ holiday favorite,Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, pulled together by a veritable army of the show’s designers from the hair, make-up, fur and padding departments; and, Broadway Cares darling Felicia Finley, who energized the crowd with appeals for her bears from roles in Aida and The Wedding Singer.
Paws – and paddles – went up for bears representing the current best of Broadway to the golden oldies. Ever-popular Christine Ebersole’s Little Edie Beale (“Taste is for cowards!”) bear came with a “black cardigan sweater-head wrap” and leopard-print bathing suit, designed by Fay Koplovita from William Ivey Long’s original design. Cats proved it is bears that are “now and forever” in the wonderfully whiskered, pleasingly plump, Bustopher Jones bear, signed by role-creator, Stephen Hanan, from the design by John Napier. There was Isaac Mizrahi’s design for Pirate Jenny in last year’s The Threepenny Opera revival signed by Cyndi Lauper, and a Mei-Li bear from 1958’s Flower Drum Song, created by Gene Barth from the late Irene Sharaff’s original and signed by Lea Salonga; Spamalot’s The Black Knight (2005), signed by BC/EFA family member Christopher Sieber and Eric Idle from Tim Hatley’s design, recreated by Sam Hill, and Fritz Weaver’s signedBearlock Holmes bear from Baker Street (1965), complete with Inverness-caped coat and deerstalker hat from Motley’s creation.
And the prize for best seller goes to Broadway sensation … Mary Poppins! Miss Poppins touched down on BEARS Xwith a mini-replica of the notorious carpet bag and a fully functional black-parrot-handled umbrella. Under her lovely royal blue traveling coat is a splendid white coutil corset with white satin piping and bleached muslin petticoat. “Perfectly practical in every way”, MP brought in a topping $8,000 for the Bob Crowley original design, crafted by Susan Bolt with Ryan P. McWilliams on wig detail.
Other winners were the Christine Daaé bear from Phantom ($6,500), the Chorus Line critters ($6,000) and that dominatrix-runaway bride, Linda, from Wedding Singer, which fetched a dowry of $5,000. The Wedding dress worn by Christine is a masterfully woven miniature of the Tony® Award-winning gown by Maria Bjornson. As created by Noel Noblitt and his team, the fitted, silver and white ribbed ottoman bodice is scattered with tiny crystal rhinestones and the floor-length skirt is edged in rows of ruched cream satin, picot-edged ribbon and accented with sheer silver-ribbon bows and tiny white roses. Naturally, the ring is placed on the appropriate claw of her left paw. This Beaaé is signed by current Christines Jennifer Hope Wills and Sandra Joseph, and also by director Hal Prince (Tony® Award, 1988). “The Line” from Chorus Line was a huge hit this year, signed by the cast of hopefuls from the 2006 revival, with costumes created by David Kaley based on Theoni V. Aldredge’s original designs.
Whew! Bearly taking paws for a breather, producer Scott T. Stevens of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is already setting his sights on BROADWAY BEARS XI. “There is a part of me that feels like next year we should re-invent the wheel as we turn a corner on the start of another decade of bears, “ says Scott. “But, as they say, if it is not broken, don’t fix it.”
It’s been a long trail from that first teddy of Carol Channing’s Dolly Levithrough the forest of Bette, Barbra, Banderas and beyond. But, as the fur settles down for a long hibernation, you can bet they’ll be back on the boards come 2008, for a very, beary good time.