If you were, perchance, recently looking for an old Ragtime playbill or poster and entered the name of popular Lynn Ahrens-Terrence McNally-Stephen Flaherty musical into a search on eBay®, you may have come across another souvenir.
The vintage circa 1912 Model T Ford convertible that was used in the original Broadway production of Ragtime is up for bid to the highest bidder. The specially-built automobile, which played a pivotal role in the stage adaptation of the turn-of-the-century epic novel by E.L. Doctorow, measures approximately 11 feet in length by 4 feet-4 inches wide and stands 6 feet-9 inches tall. The engine-less prop runs on three batteries, similar to the way a golf cart functions.
How did the stage car make it to the pages of eBay®? According to seller Randy Donley, "There was an auction in Elgin, Illinois, and it had about six semi-loads of the Ragtime props. I bought a lot of Ragtime items. I bought the fire truck, the model T, the movie camera, the Houdini poster sign and coffin, all kinds of stuff."
Donley, who runs Donley's Wild West Town in Union, IL — a tourist attraction which operates a museum, restaurant, a banquet hall and antiques business — purchased the items for resale. He actually outbid Russell Egolf for the prize. Egolf is the original maker of the Broadway prop.
"At the auction, I met the manufacturer of the car and we bid against him," revealed Donley. "They wanted to buy it back. They made two of the cars and they said one of them is still owned by the company and this one was sold off. The original manufacturing cost to them was $35, 000." The faux Ford will go to the highest bidder over the reserved price of $12,000 (not including shipping & handling). If that seems a little pricey, there's two other items currently available on the internet auction site: Houdini's Marquee Showcard (starting at $499) or the bronze Joan of Arc Statue (starting at $199). To view the items, filled with photos, click on the "view seller's other items" on the Model T's item listing.
Auctioner Donley, who admits to never seeing the original production, has already sold the production's fire truck through eBay®. "It went very cheap, it went for $3,000." He also mentioned a future auction prospect, "One other neat item we have, at the very end of the play, there's a stereoscope. So, I have it with viewer and the viewcard of Ragtime in it.
Ragtime opened on Broadway Jan 18, 1998 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The production garnered Tony Award nominations for its actors (Brian Stokes Mitchell, Peter Friedman, Marin Mazzie and Audra McDonald), director (Frank Galati), choreographer (Graciela Daniele), creative team (scenic designer Eugene Lee, costume designer Santo Loquasto and lighting team of Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer) and creators (bookwriter Terrence McNally, composer Stephen Flaherty, lyricist Lynn Ahrens and orchestrator William David Brohn). McDonald, McNally, Flaherty, Ahrens and Brohn would win in their perspective categories, but the Livent-produced mega-musical would be beat out for the year's top prize of Best Musical by the Disney-produced rival mega-musical of The Lion King. The show would close Jan 16, 2000, after a total of 834 performances.