Broadway Shopping for a Great Cause

Mike Haber

Do you love Broadway? Do you love to shop? Do you love to help people in need? On Sunday, September 27, 2015, the Broadway community once again came together in full force for the 29th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction – the event raises money for “Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS” (BC/EFA), which supports persons living with HIV/AIDS and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), for women dealing with breast cancer and heart disease.  This year’s event raised $757k, beating last year’s all time record high of $714k – Amazing! 

Personally, I love this event and believe it supports some very important causes and what better way to raise funds and save lives then through shopping and bidding with the help of some fabulous Broadway stars.  The Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction annually brings thousands of theatre fans from around the world to Times Square and the Theatre District via Shubert Alley. Everyone who comes is on the hunt for that special piece of Broadway memorabilia -- in the name of charity. Most of the current shows, theater unions, and other theater supporting organizations participate and each have personalized booths hawking their items. Some of the highlights, from this year’s flea market included monkey masks, graded essay papers, and Shiz text books from WICKED, Don Juan Triumphant sheet music, detailed programs, notes from the Phantom, and old chandelier pieces from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and Jean Vailjean’s Parole ticket, revolutionary meeting flyers, and copies of Marius’ letter to Cosette from LES MISERABLES.  One thing I like about the Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction is that it also supports recycling and the environment. When a production no longer uses sets, costumes, and props – which do get wear and tear from being used eight times a week for performances, they sell the items at the flea market.  So you see the Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction also helps the earth by going GREEN!
Another highlight from the event is the famous “Celebrity Autograph Table and Photo Booth,” located just outside of Junior’s Restaurant in Shubert Alley.  The lines to get inside do get super-packed with fans waiting on line and all are willing to pay a donation to meet their theatre idols. This year’s line up included 60 Broadway favorites including Sierra Boggess (THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE LITTLE MERMAID and soon to be seen in the upcoming SCHOOL OF ROCK), Gavin Creel (THE BOOK OF MORMON, HAIR), Jonathan Groff (HAMILTON, GLEE, SPRING AWAKENING), Danny Burnstein (CABARET, the upcoming revival of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF), Sydney Lucas (FUN HOME), Telly Leung (GODSPELL, the upcoming ALLEGIANCE), Bebe Neuwirth (CHICAGO), Chita Rivera (THE VISIT), newcomer Shanice Williams (NBC’s upcoming live televised adaptation of THE WIZ), and many more. Fans begin lining up hours in advance because it is first come first serve and can pay either $30 for an autograph or $20 for a photo. But here is why the lines are so crazy -- fans get to HANG OUT with the stars at their tables for an hour. Patience is a must as fans wait to make their way in.
Also not only there were favorite Broadway performers at Juniors but they were also helping out at their show’s booths as well.

At the booths, cast members also did photo opportunities as well including current the Bechdel siblings from this year’s Tony Award winning smash hit FUN HOME, FINDING NEVERLAND cast members Amy Yakima (who was dressed up in costume as Peter Pan) and Teal Wicks (Mary Barrie), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA star Rachel Zatcoff (current Christine alternate),former cast members from the Broadway cast of NEWSIES, LES MISERABLES’ Chris McCarrell, who also did some Les Miz Karaoke with fans singing their favorite songs from the show if they donated, and a mob of fans meeting cast members from this year’s talked about smash hit HAMILTON.

We talked about the shopping and autograph tables, now let’s talk about the Grand Auction. Each year at the event, there are two types of auctions that take place throughout the day. Early in the day was the silent auction, hosted by stage veterans Stephen Wallem and Kirsten Wyatt (ANNIE, GREASE).  The auction consisted of 132 Broadway items up for bid, including autographed sheet music, framed artwork, books, CD’s, and more. The main auction which takes place towards the end of the day was the popular live auction. The live auction, was hosted by Stage and Screen veteran Bryan Batt and real life auctioneer Lorna Kelly and contained unforgettable Broadway experiences for Theatre fans – this included opening night passes for some of Broadway’s upcoming new shows this season, VIP meet and greets in dressing room, backstage tours, and the most thrilling experience that every aspiring Broadway performer dreams of, a walk-on role in some of Broadway’s current hits (including WICKED, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, JERSEY BOYS, BEAUTIFUL, more).
If you are the ultimate theater fan, I strongly recommend checking out the event next year when it celebrates it's 30th year in September 2016!