Some of Broadway's brightest stars gathered in Broadway's Shubert Alley on the sunny Saturday afternoon, Sept. 28, to sign autographs and auction showbiz memorabilia as part of the 1997 BC/EFA Flea Market and Grand Auction.
The event raised a total of $447,315, short of last year's $468,000, but nearly $100,000 more than the preceding year. All proceeds go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
This annual event brings the theatre community together to raise money for the fight against AIDS by selling vintage Playbills, props from shows, scripts, videos, costumes, and -- back again this year: cue cards used on "The Late Show With David Letterman," which tapes weekdays in the Broadway Theatre District.
New tables selling merchandise at this years event included those from InTheatre, the new theatre magazine; a Rosie O'Donnell table, which included everything from Koosh balls to cardboard cut-outs of Tom Cruise; and a Chicago table that sold hand-cuff keychains and props from the show to name a few things.
Also new this year was the "Wheel of Divas." This attraction, run by actresses and men in drag to represent some of their favorite divas, included lookalikes for Carol Channing, Barbra Streisand and Julie Andrews. The wheel itself also included four more divas: Judy Garland, Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, and Bette Davis. The object of this event was to place your bets on your favorite diva and spin the wheel. If your diva came up the winner, so did you, and prizes ranges from theatre mugs to t-shirts and programs. Each spin cost a different price and the more you pledged the bigger your prize. The auction, however, was the biggest attraction of the day and it alone raised $222,315. Some of the more expensive prizes included a walk-on in the TV sitcom "Caroline in the City" (which prominently mentions theatre and theatre folk) for $16,000, a walk-on appearance in the television show "Friends" for $10,500 and a chance to appear on stage with the cast of Jonathan Larson's Rent on Broadway also for $10,500.
Some other big items up for bid included opening night tickets for upcoming Broadway shows The Scarlet Pimpernel, Ragtime, Proposals, and The Capeman,; and walk-ons in shows including Miss Saigon, Beauty and the Beast, The King and I, Jekyll and Hyde, The Life, and Annie, which sold twice.
When the Annie bidding began, a man shouted out that he had twin girls and wanted both to have a chance in the show. Unfortunately, Conrad John Schuck, who plays Daddy Warbucks declined, telling the bidder, "We only have one costume" to which the bidder responded "I'll pay twice."
Apparently there was a misunderstanding and the lot went to someone else. However, about ten minutes later, after the first bidder spoke with the auctioneer, an announcement was made that this man was willing to pay two times so both of his girls could have a chance to be in the show in two different performances, and he was given the lot. The original price sold for $2600 bringing the grand total to $5,200.
The walk-on for Jekyll & Hyde sold for $3200. The Titanic walk-on sold for $4750. The person will appear in the opening sequence and their name will be added to the passenger list that night. Both shows provided seats for the bidder's friends and family and dinner with cast members afterwards.
One of the highlights of the auction was when Chicago star Bebe Neuwirth unexpectedly appeared on stage to auction off a scarf given to her by the producers of "Cheers," the television show that made her famous as Lillith, on their 200th episode shot on location in Boston.
"There's only about 15 or so of these in the world," Neuwirth shouted. "OK maybe I'm exaggerating -- but it is a collector's item."
The scarf was grey with the logo of "Cheers": 200th embroidered on it and signed by Neuwirth herself.
When the bidding began Neuwirth, attempting to get the bidders to go higher, shouts out "and it smells like my perfume". This item sold for $400. But that wasn't all Bebe had to offer. Right before the end of the auction she runs out of the stage door of the Shubert Theatre where Chicago is playing. This time she was holding her costume from the show. "My co-stars persuaded me to sell this" she says and the bidding begins. This time the item worn by Bebe and personally signed by her sold for $500.
Other prizes included lunch with Sam Harris -- personally cooked in his apartment. It sold for $3500. A walk-on in the television show "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," which included round-trip airfare and hotel, sold for $4250. Marcia Lewis auctioned off an autobiography of Bill Clinton, personally signed by the President, for $2400.
Another big attraction of this event is the celebrity table and photo booth. This gives fans the chance to speak with their favorite celebrities while asking for an autograph or pose for photos with the star of the hour.
Some of this year's celebrities included: Titanic stars Michael Cerveris, David Garrison, Alma Cuervo, Judy Blazer, and Victoria Clark; Chicago stars Bebe Neuwirth, Marilu Henner, Marcia Lewis, and Joel Grey; Jekyll & Hyde stars Robert Cuccioli and Christiane Noll; The Life's Sam Harris; and a variety of daytime soap opera stars from shows like "One Life to Live" and "As the World Turns." Other stars who got their turn in the celeb line were Harvey Fierstein, Fyvush Finkel, Michael Knight, and BD Wong.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids was founded in October, 1987 and has raised millions of dollars in the fight against AIDS with events such as the Broadway Flea Market, Gypsy of the Year, Broadway Bares, and the Easter Bonnet Competition. For more information on these events check out their website at
- By Andrea Prince