The 22nd Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction

On September 21, a glorious sunny Sunday, energized performers from Broadway and Daytime TV, fervent fans, theatre-lovers and bargain-hunters came together in the heart of the theatre district to raise over $496,000 for BC/EFA at the 22nd Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction.

The “first annual” Broadway Flea Market was born in 1987 when the final cast of the original production of A CHORUS LINE put up a few tables outside the stage door of the Shubert Theatre in Shubert Alley. They sold props, old costumes, and years’ worth of “swag” along with gifts that had lined their dressing rooms during their run to passers-by both before the Saturday matinee and between the afternoon and evening performances.  $6,000 was raised that day and donated to the then fledgling Broadway Cares;  a tradition was born.

“The buyers and the sellers” had so much fun that the following year other Broadway shows were invited to create their own “sale tables” alongside those from A Chorus Line…and $12,000 was raised!    Since then – and from these humble beginnings – 22 editions of The Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction have raised over $7,758,752 for BC/EFA!

As crowds grew and more people marked their calendars to attend this much-anticipated event – which became known as an outdoor kick-off to each year’s Broadway season – the Flea Market outgrew Shubert Alley on a Saturday.  This year, as it has for the last 10, the event was produced on a Sunday and stretched down West 44th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

At 7:00pm, before the gavel came down on the last auction lot, the final celebrity autograph was signed, and tables from over 70 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, unions, production offices and other theatre-related businesses sold their last items, more than 25,000 people had come by to see who was there and what was for sale.

The Flea Market also included a Celebrity Table, where celebrities gathered throughout the day to sign autographs and pose for photos in exchange for donations.  As always, the climax of the day was the Grand Auction in which unique items and priceless entertainment-related experiences were auctioned off live to the highest bidder.

A Tale of Great Tables
Theatre-lovers, memorabilia collectors and a slew of bargain-hunters raced back and forth between 70 tables (a record, up from 60 in 2007) manned by scores of dedicated volunteers from the Broadway, Off-Broadway, Touring and theatre-related communities lining Shubert Alley and both sides of W. 44th Street.  This enthusiastic hawking and shopping by the end of the day raised over $258,000 from thousands of purchases of $1, $5, $20, $50 and – for some very rare one-of-a-kind props costumes and signed memorabilia – hundreds of dollars!

This year’s top 10 tables were:

$17,133          BROADWAY BEAT
$13,122          UNITED SCENIC ARTISTS
$11,474          WICKED  (top Broadway show)
$10,425          TDF
$  9,694          The ARACA GROUP
$  8,756          XANADU
$  8,534          THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
$  8,010          BC/EFA Merchandise “Sale” Table
$  7,996          GYPSY
$  7,870          IN THE HEIGHTS

Many fun, original items were sold all along 44th Street:  Avenue Q gleefully offered up a very popular graphic tee with this slogan – George Bush: Only for Now!;the company of Spring Awakening made their Flea Market debut and featured headliner, Hunter Parrish, stopping by to sign autographs for fans. Our good friends from Actors’ Equity were present and accounted for once again, remaining “the longest running Flea Market table”, in marking their 21st year of participation at the Flea Market!

In Shubert Alley, the company of Spamalot went green with organic graphic tees designed by the cast.  Norm Lewis and Seth Rudestky stopped by the Broadway Artists Alliance table to decorate some cookies; Jeff Johnson Doherty, Matthew Kilgore, Craig Lowry, and Tyler Fields sold costumes and props from past productions of Broadway Bares from right off the table –and their bodies; while our friends from Grey Advertising auctioned a collection of over-sized Playbills from over a dozen Broadway shows including Equus, South Pacific, In The Heights, Spring Awakening, Gypsy and more – each signed by the entire cast!

Celebrity Table/Photo Booth
More than 70 names from Broadway, BRAVO network and ABC Daytime Television participated in this year’s Celebrity Table and Photo Booth, which together earned $10,350 in just five hours, while giving fans (many of whom return year-after-year) the chance to meet and have their pictures taken with their favorite stars. Jim Caruso and Scott Nevins emceed this five-hour fan fest, which featured Malan Breton, Victorya Hong and Chris March from “Project Runway,” as well as [title of show]’s Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff.

Stars appearing throughout the day included (pictured):   Laura Benanti and Boyd Gaines, Gypsy; Tituss Burgess, The Little Mermaid and Julia Murney, Wicked; Jacqueline Hindy, One Life to Live and John Driscoll, The Guiding Light;  Patrick Wilson,All My Sons and Kerry Butler, Xanadu; Matt Cananaugh, A Catered Affair and Jenny Powers, Grease; Michael Beresse, A Chorus Line and director of [title of show] and Jeff Bowen, [title of show].

They were joined by Loretta Ables Sayre, Amanda Baker, James Barbour, Laura Benanti, Richard H. Blake, Justis Bolding, Andréa Burns, Danny Burstein, Mario Cantone, Kathleen Chalfant, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Janet Dacal, Ewa Da Cruz, Merle Dandridge, Trent Dawson, Marj Dusay, Melissa Claire Egan, Jennifer Ferrin, Felicia Finley, Gregg Germann, Mandy Gonzalez, Van Hansis,and Harriet Harris…

…as well as Neil Haskell, Rodney Hicks, Christian Hoff, Jayne Houdyshell, Christopher Jackson, Robin de Jesús, Derek Keeling, Brian Kerwin, Michael E. Knight, Ilene Kristen, Aaron Lazar, Beth Leavel, Norm Lewis, Priscilla Lopez, Rebecca Luker, Madeleine Martin, Alli Mauzey, Brianne Moncrief, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Newman, Karen Olivo, Larry Pressgrove, Sean Ringgold, Tony Roberts, Marcy Rylan, Marnie Schulenberg, Marian Seldes, Jake Silbermann, Kevin Spiritas, Robin Strasser, Chrishell Stause, KayCee Stroh and Caitlin Van Zandt.

Before the Grand Auction, which filled Shubert Alley from 4:30 to 7:00, Michael Goddard and Felicia Finley hosted an 80-item Silent Auction earning $34,780.

Silent Auction highlights included: a door panel from the musical Rent at the Nederlander Theatre autographed by the panel’s subject Jesse L. Martin ($2,500); a musical phrase of the song “One” from A Chorus Line, written and signed by Marvin Hamlisch ($1,850); and, an autographed photo of the four original Broadway leads from Jersey Boys taken backstage at the August Wilson Theatre ($1,500).

Have Gavel Will Travel:  Lorna Kelly’s Got Your Bid
Ably assisted by emcee John Bolton (Curtains), BC/EFA’s “family” auctioneer Lorna Kelly (whose cameo in the Sex and The City movie led to a recent profile in Time Magazine) was on hand again, leading the bidding and skillfully boosting the final bids in our 58-lot Grand Auction, which earned $173,000 and nudged the 20-year total for grand auctions to a “grand” $3,267,925!

A special Spamalot package which included a chance to meet Clay Aiken backstage after the performance was the top auction lot, selling for $10,000. The 2009 Tony Awards Experience – featuring tickets to the nominations press conference, rehearsals, and VIP seats to the show at Radio City and Gala sold for $5,250.  A pair of tickets to the opening night performance of, and party to, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5: the Musical sold to a lucky bidder for $5,000, followed closely by opening night performance and party tickets for Billy Elliott going to another excited bidder for $4,500. A one-of-a-kind, now extremely rare collection of seven autographed posters from Rent featuring seven companies of actors from the opening night to the closing night casts sold for $4,750.

As always, walk-on roles in Broadway’s popular shows are highly prized, earning large winning bids. This year’s line-up included:

($8,500)          WICKED
($5,250)          YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
($5,250)          HAIRSPRAY
($4,250)          JERSEY BOYS
($4,400)          IN THE HEIGHTS
($4,000)          THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
($3,800)          [title of show]

Sponsors’ Boost RaisesTotal
This year’s Flea Market received a $25,000 donation from The MAC AIDS Fund and $5,000 from WOR-Radio, as well as invaluable in-kind donations from three sponsors: Continental Airlines, the official airline of BC/EFA, The New York Times,and the management of Junior’s, who graciously donated their outdoor patio on 45th Street for the Celebrity Table and Photo Booth.