Sunday, September 27th presented several opportunities for me to cross a few things off my personal bucket list, one of which was to attend the BCFEA Broadway Flea Market. Just to give a little background, the Broadway Flea Market started 29 years ago when 2 tables were set up in Shubert Alley outside of A Chorus Line during the first ever Equity Fights AIDS week where they raised $12,000. Now after 29 years, this cherished event has raised over $11 million for AIDS research. The event has grown to provide numerous tables and vendors, silent auctions and autograph sessions running throughout the day. Here’s my take on my first experience!
I started out early; the event didn’t technically start till 10AM, but the experienced shoppers encouraged me to get there by 9-9:30AM. By the time I got there, people were huddled over the big-ticket items and staking out their first few purchases. There were dozens of tables set up down 44th street with the auction stage and big named show tables in the middle of Times Square. I passed on the autograph sessions and auction, but I did watch a framed original costume sketch for The King and I go for $1500. I made my way through the street and stopped by nearly every table to check it out; there were some amazing items for sale: paper flowers made from Playbills, signed memorabilia, one-of-a-kind show props and flea market merchandise. Did I mention that the actors themselves ran some of the tables? At one point I found myself two feet from Alfie Boe (Les Misérables), Veanne Cox (R&H’s Cinderella TV movie with Brandy and Whitney Houston) and Chris McCarrell (Marius from Les Miz) was singing karaoke with all of the aspiring Eponine’s and Cosette’s in the crowd. There were Newsies, Mormons and Matildas galore. Some of my notable purchases included a signed Emerald City piggy bank from the current Elphaba and Glinda in Wicked, an opening night engraved Gaston mug from Beauty and the Beast, a few vintage playbills, coasters from Once, a shot glass that says “Drink with Me” and a flea market special Les Miz soup mug that says “The Moral Message of Les Misérables: The Carbs Aren’t Worth It.” Prices varied depending on the value of the items. I left the event to see a 3pm matinee, and when I came back, everything was $1 or less as vendors were packing up.
I had a fantastic day and I’m so glad that I finally got to attend this event. I can see now why it’s referred to as “the best day of the year” for Broadway enthusiasts or even “Broadway Christmas.” It was so much fun to just feel everyone’s love for the theatre and embrace the community. I cannot wait to go back; maybe I’ll see some of you there next year?