A "flea" can mean so many things to so many people. To pet owners, it means an itchy household. To rock n' rollers, it means a frantic, half naked bass player. But to theatre mavens, a flea means just one thing: the ultimate Times Square bazaar-cum-yard sale, a way to get posters, Playbills, props and costumes, often at a big bargain, with proceeds going to charity.
And so it is that the 14th annual Broadway Flea Market will be held Sept. 24 in Shubert Alley (West 44th Street). As in the past, the all-day fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will feature an auction of theatre-related prizes, autograph-signing tables and show-specific memorabilia such as costume and set sketches, photographs, signed scripts, costume pieces, baked goods and more. The Market starts at 10 AM and concludes with the grand auction, at 4:30 PM. Traditionally, a rain-date is chosen in case the weather is uncooperative, but so far no alternate date has been announced.
Last year, the combined auction and market sale raised $551,000 for BC/EFA, topping 1998's total of $507,000.
One of the most talked about items offered was Jekyll & Hyde's $25 1999 Flea Market shirt. Emblazoned on the plain black tee were the words "The Hair Switch Project" with "The Blair Witch Project" stick-figure design split into two separate characters -- one in white and pristine pony tail, the other in red with hair a-flowing. Shoppers also took home:
Broadway Bears notecards -- $10
Broadway Bares IX Calendar -- $30
An In Theater magazine autographed by Kevin Spacey -- $50
Chicago light switch plate -- $20
Picture with a Naked Boy, as in Naked Boys Singing (in towel) -- $5
Brian Stokes Mitchell-autographed photo from People Magazine's Celebrity Photo Collection -- $100
A Packet of autographed paper items used in Les Miserables -- $10
Falsettoland Playbill -- $.50
1999 Easter Bonnet video -- $20
Ann Hould-Ward costume design from Terrence Mann's Romeo and Juliet -- $400
Five-minute massage from Broadway Chiropractic and Wellness -- $5
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know luggage tag -- $12
Sunset Boulevard poster -- $1
10th Anniversary Phantom of the Opera Playbill signed by Thomas James O'Leary -- $10
Box set of eight Jellicle Balls holiday ornaments -- $50
Footloose show logo shoe laces -- $1
Der Glockner von Notre Dame, a German recording of Disney's Hunchback stage musical -- $50
The celebrity table presented fans with an opportunity, for a donation, to line up to for pictures with and autographs from various Broadway and daytime luminaries. Spending time at the table were Bryan Batt (Saturday Night Fever), Ron Bohmer, Marc Kudisch (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll & Hyde), Catherine Cox & Jeremy Kushnier (both of Footloose), Michael Hayden & John Benjamin Hickey (both of Cabaret), Valerie Wright (Annie Get Your Gun), Brent Barrett & Ruthie Henshall (both of Chicago), Elizabeth Franz & Brian Dennehy (both of Death of a Salesman), John Davidson (State Fair, Oklahoma!), John Glover (Love! Valor! Compassion!), Judith Ivey (Voices in the Dark), Judith Light & Grant Snow (both of Wit), Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat ( both of Annie Get Your Gun), Marian Seldes (Dear Liar), Donna Bullock, Judy Kaye, MIchael Rupert, Alton Fitzgerald White (Ragtime), Edie Falco & Andrew McCarthy (both of Side Man), MGM musical legend Marge Champion, Dorothy Loudon (Annie), Tom Everett Scott (The Country Club), Roger Bart (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown), Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard), playwright Christopher Durang (Betty's Summer Vacation), Ednita Nazario (The Capeman), Phylicia Rashad (Into the Woods, "The Cosby Show") and Faith Prince (Little Me).
Another highlight of the afternoon was the grand auction. Bidders could win the opportunity to write lyrics for a song to be penned by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop of Horrors); or dinner and tickets to the opening night performances of Aida, Kiss Me Kate, Waiting in the Wings, Martin Guerre, Putting It Together or Saturday Night Fever; or a personalized answering machine message left by John Cameron Mitchell as Hedwig; or a dance lesson with the cast of Fosse. Even pop star Ricky Martin got in the act with the donation of the shirt he wore as Marius in Les Miz, as well as the house photo of himself that hung outside the theatre.
Some of the most heavily bidded-upon lots were the walk-ons, which included parts in Footloose, Ragtime, Cabaret, "Dharma & Greg," "Early Edition," Miss Saigon, Naked Boys Singing! (clothed or naked, for a boy or a girl!), Chicago, Jekyll & Hyde, Annie Get Your Gun (in the "Minneapolis Fair Ground" scene), "Touched by an Angel," "Dawson's Creek," "Providence," Rent, Les Miserables, "Ally McBeal," "Friends" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
In the silent auction, up for grabs were a jean jacket from bash, with a playbill signed by Calista Flockhart, Ron Eldard and Paul Rudd; an original 1978 "Saturday Night Fever" Super Cologne; a Waiting for Godot playbill signed by F. Murray Abraham, Lukas Hass, Bill Irwin, Steve Martin and Robin Williams; Matthew Broderick's autographed hatbox prop from Night Must Fall; Cathy Rigby's boots and a drum head from Peter Pan; Natasha Richardson's dress from Closer; and framed musical phrases from "Till We Reach That Day" signed by Stephen Flaherty, and "Hey, Big Spender" signed by Cy Coleman.
Also present were Classical Action, classical music's AIDS fund-raising organization, and Dancers Responding to AIDS. Patrons could also take a spin for prizes on the Wheel of Divas with female impersonator versions of Cher and others.
For more information on the Flea Market and other BC/EFA events, please visit their website at www.bcefa.org or call (212) 840-0770.
-- By David Lefkowitz
and Christine Ehren