The 20th Annual Flea Market & Grand Auction

Ignoring the weatherman’s prediction of daylong showers, large crowds turned out to shop for bargains, bid on glamorous prizes and meet their favorite celebrities at BC/EFA’s 20th Annual Flea Market and Grand Auction, held Sunday in Times Square’s Shubert Alley.

This year’s result of $505,832 brought the event’s 20-year total to $6,045,511.

“I stopped wanting to break records with every event a couple of years ago, probably with the advent of my own middle age,” said BC/EFA Executive Director Tom Viola at the end of a very long day on Sunday, September 24th around 9:00 pm.

“I think $505,832 is an extraordinary amount for BC/EFA, or any organization, to encourage an entire community to raise in one day,  said Viola.  “I like to think of it as Broadway’s community picnic that really kicks off both the Broadway season and, of course, BC/EFA’s upcoming season of fundraising.”

The Breakdown
The 56 tables that stretched from the alley onto 44th St. generated $213,952, while our silent auction earned $31,780.

Some of the top-earning tables were:

$24,311          United Scenic Artists
$22,612          The Celebrity Table and Photo Booth
$16,310          Broadway Beat
$13,230          The Phantom of the Opera
$  9,167          The Triton Gallery
$  8,786          TDF
$  7,082          Wicked
$  6,545          Rent
$  6,302          The Producers
$  6,089          “Entertainment Weekly”
$  5,120          Playbill
$  5.096          Beauty & The Beast
$  4,353          Tarzan
$  4,035          Actors’ Equity Association

…with 42 others coming in close behind.

This year’s celebrity table/photo booth proved especially popular, running at full capacity for much of the day. It featured more than 80 award-winning stars of Broadway and Daytime Television, including: Michael Arden; Michael Beresse; Jeff Branson; Mario Cantone; Victoria Clark; Jason Danieley; Georgia Engel; Bobbie Eakes; Eden Espinoza; Edie Falco;  Harvey Fierstein; David Garrison; Richard Griffiths; Christian Hoff; Carol Kane; Richard Kind; La Chanze; Beth Leavel; Norm Lewis; Marin Mazzie; Jesse Martin; Andrea McArdle; Matthew Morrison Bebe Neuwirth; Marion Seldes; Martin Short; Josh Strickland, John Tartaglia; John Lloyd Young; Patrick Wilson, Jacob Young and dozens of others.

Some of the 75 items contributing to the Silent Auction total included a 2006 Tony Awards® poster ($950), the original stage door form the Nederlander Theatre signed by the original cast of Rent, and a backstage autograph book from Avenue Q($1,300).

Corporate Giving and the Big Event
The Flea Market’s five corporate sponsors includedThe New York Times, Continental Airlines, MAC VIVA GLAM andWOR Radio. Junior’s, a New York institution which recently opened a new restaurant facing Shubert Alley and 45th Street, donated deck space for our celebrity table and photo booth, while MAC and WOR presented BC/EFA with checks totaling $85,000.

Actress and WOR morning radio host Donna Hanover presented WOR’s check for $35,000, while Peter Lichtinthal, the Global General Manager of MAC COSMETICS, was on hand to deliver a generous gift from The MAC AIDS FUND of $50,000.

As always, the afternoon concluded with the big event: The Grand Auction, which generated $175,000 from 60 packages or “lots.”

BC/EFA’s “family auctioneer” Lorna Kelly was joined by returning host Bryan Batt (who also hosted this year’s Broadway Bears auction). They led the bidding with help from some of Broadway’s biggest names, including Anthony Rapp, Barrett Foa (The 25th Annual Putnam County SpellingBee), The Drowsy Chaperone’s Bob Martin, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and Steve Gouveia from Jersey Boys, and the incomparable Martin Short – who came directly from a performance of his smash show Fame Becomes Me to auction off  the opportunity to not only get VIP tickets to his show, but be interviewed by Jiminy Glick on the stage at The Jacobs during the performance! This package went for $5,500.

Other large winning bids included the original “Trekkie Monster” from Avenue Q, along with a puppetry lesson from Trekkie’s creator Rick Lyon, which sold for $10,500, and a package featuring orchestra seats for opening night of this fall’s revival ofLes Miserables ($9,500).  Walk-ons in Rent and Jersey Boys each went for $8,500.

We’ve Come a Long Way
The first “unofficial” Flea Market debuted as two tables presented by the company of A Chorus Line outside their stage door in Shubert Alley as a part of the first Equity Fights AIDS week and raised what was thought to be an astonishing $12,000.   (It is somewhat ironic that as we celebrated the success of our 20th flea market, cast members from the upcoming revival of A Chorus Line were preparing for opening night at The Schoenfeld Theatre).

Over the next four years, as one of the first collaborations between Equity Fights AIDS and Broadway Cares, the Flea Market grew with tables from more shows, theatre-related offices, unions, and guilds – everyone recognizing a good cause and a great chance to clean house.

In 1988, an auction of eight lots was created, but with no experienced auctioneer, sputtered to its finish.  In 1989, Sotheby’s Lorna Kelly came on board as our official auctioneer and with her expertise a truly “grand” auction was born.

With the merger of Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS in May 1992, the Sixth Annual Flea Market was produced from BC/EFA’s office by a fledgling staff of six and scores of volunteers.   Today, the Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auctionbrings thousands from the theatre community and their fans to Shubert Alley and 44th St. and requires the efforts of literally hundreds of volunteers from across the entire theatre community.

From two tables outside a stage in 1987, 20 years later this event has raised over $6,551,418!

Thanks to all – those who signed the posters, manned the tables and created the auction experiences few will ever have – as well as to those who bought the signed posters and more at the tables before bidding thousands of dollars for unforgettable theatrical experiences.

Once again, together we have made a difference.

An Unexpected Passing
For many performers and other industry insiders in attendance, the day was marked by sadness over the loss of Actors’ Equity President and long-time BC/EFA board member Patrick Quinn, who died suddenly over the weekend at age 56. A popular performer who appeared in Beauty and the Beast and other Broadway musicals, Quinn would have taken over the position of Executive Director of Actors’ Equity in October.

Addressing the crowd, BC/EFA Executive Director Tom Viola honored Patrick’s memory. “To hear of Patrick Quinn’s death, particularly on this day, is unimaginable.   Patrick was a founding member of Equity Fights AIDS and then First Vice President of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  His enthusiasm and generous spirit helped create and nurture the organization we are today.  I know the sun we had during what was supposed to be a rainy Sunday came at Pat’s heavenly instigation – his insistence if he could not be there with us in Shubert Alley.  We will miss him dearly and remember him always.”