The 9th Annual Broadway Bears Auction was staged Sunday evening, May 21 at B.B. Blues Club & Grill in Times Square. The event, originally scheduled for February 12 but postponed due to record snowfall, lost none of its momentum in recording an impressive $111,350 in total contributions from ticket, sponsorship, merchandise and bear sales.
Perennial host Bryan Batt returned once again to keep things lively, introducing an array of Broadway stars who presented 43 bears up for auction.
Batt had his whiskers pulled from the outset, as David Cryer (The Phantom of the Opera) opened the evening in black tie with a mock rendition of “All I Ask of You” from Phantom, which, as David so lyrically reminded, has eclipsed Cats as the longest-running Broadway musical. Auctioneer Lorna Kelly used her eagle eye to track down any and all trace of paddle-wave from the packed house vying for top bid, with telephone and on-line business keeping apace.
And onto the bears!
John Tartaglia’s enthusiasm while introducing his Rod bear from Avenue Q helped it set the night’s record, taking in $8,250. Rod was created by Karl A. Ruckdeschel from an original design by Mirena Rada.
Doubt was represented in the stern form of Sister Aloysius — off a design by John Kristiansen from Catherine Zuber’s original – signed by last year’s Tony® Award-winner Cherry Jones. The lovely, energetic Felicia Finley (The Wedding Singer) presented the Amneris doll from Aida, which was signed by Sherie Rene Scott and Sir Elton John, and made from some 200 yards and seven varieties of white ribbon off an original design by Bob Crowley. Both bears fetched $4,000 each.
Other big winners included Fanny Brice from Funny Girl ( inked by Barbra Streisand), and Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, signed by Hunter Foster (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Lee Wilkof (The Odd Couple). Presenter Richard Jay-Alexander recalled the thrill of working with childhood idol Streisand, and described how special it was to present the Brice bear for auction at BC/EFA.
Other celebrity presenters included Kerry Butler (Little Shop of Horrors), Thommie Walsh (My One And Only), Patti Cohenouer (The Light in the Piazza),
Marty Thomas (Wicked), Beth Fowler (The Boy from Oz, Beauty and the Beast), Nancy Opel (Fiddler on the Roof,Urinetown), and a spirited Daphne Rubin-Vega, who shook her “assets” to raise bids on the Rent bear.
Signatures included Julie Andrews for The Boy Friend (1954), Harvey Fierstein for Hairspray (2002), Shirley MacLaine forShirley MacLaine on Broadway (1984), Denzel Washington for Julius Caesar (2005), Sandy Duncan for Peter Pan (1980), Tim Curry for Monty Python’s Spamalot (2005) and Ms. Rubin-Vega’s rockin’ Magenta from The Rocky Horror Show (2000).
Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince autographed the Miles Gloriosus bear from A Funny Thing Happened … (1962); Rosie O’Donnell and Fierstein signed the Bottle Dancer bear from Fiddler on the Roof (2004). Costume designer Jane Greenwood’s signature appears on Gorgeous Teitlebaum from The Sisters Rosensweig (1993) alongside that of its author, the late Wendy Wasserstein.
BC/EFA welcomed Broadway costume designers Willa Kim and Carrie Robbins, whose Over Here! (1974) bear was entered in auction this year. It was signed by Marilu Henner and John Travolta.
Wait til next year
Preview bears from The Producers, Sweeney Todd, Man of La Mancha, The Pajama Game , One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The King & I were on display for the night before being sent into a deep hibernation awaiting the next great Bearsevent in winter of 2007.
Through nine editions of Broadway Bears, $1,224,118 has been raised from auctioning over 350 bears!