On my way to work, I stumbled into the Broadway Flea Market—I forget about it every year, then always enjoy it so much when I find myself at it.
This year, I arrived with $3 in my pocket, which is deadly considering the tables sagging with fun ephemera, autographs, old magazines, mementos and other junque. Making my way through, I spotted a silver-looking box that was engraved "Jane MAME Angie 1966-1968" and immediately regretted not having money. The dates matched up to the original Broadway production of Mame. I went to get some, came back...and it was gone. So annoyed. But then I just got it in my head that it wasn't gone and dug around a bit and sure enough it had been buried under a bunch of worthless VHS cassettes. It was mine for $5. Not sure, but it seems like a gift to an original cast member, and it says "Reed & Barton The World's Finest Silverplate" on the bottom. Angela Lansbury could be the "Angie"—she did the show from 1966 to 1968. A Jane Connell was also in the show. Intriguing.
Then I remembered they had a celebrity signing/photo op going on. That was right up my (Schubert) alley, so I headed over in spite of looking beastly and being badly in need of a haircut. I got there only to discover I'd just missed Bobby Cannavale (who I don't believe did photos anyway) and Jonathan Groff (who did). Curses.
More curses were reserved for the absolutely stupid way the star interaction was handled at this otherwise amazing event (all proceeds to Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS).
About 17 names would be appearing to sign autographs and pose for pix at 50-minute intervals only. When you arrived, you had to decide if you wanted to do the autograph line OR the photo line. You couldn't do both at once, though as it turns out, you'd have been smart to do the autograph line and then run back for photos as photos were always done after—if at all.
Once you were in line for photos, you had to pick your #1 get and then go with that star, then dash back into another line that was potentially already cut off if you wanted any others. I was told by the staff that if a line was too long (Groff's was ginormous), you could "make an offer" above and beyond the standard fee and then they'd ask the star if they'd accommodate that. Fucked up! The saving grace was that the photo ops weren't all that expensive ($10 base price, more for bigger stars), but multiple attendees said prices were changed on the spot if lots of interest was seen. Also, superpricy special ops were created last-minute, such as Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp saying they'd pose together with you for $100. Same went for Joel Grey and Sutton Foster.
But because of the dueling lines, any fans who had a number of people they wanted were doomed to disapointment—there was simply no way to get everyone or even most everyone. One guy I was talking to had come with a list of 28 people he wanted—he got three!
Making matters worse, stars were wigging out on photo ops right and left, and the staff didn't know about that until we'd already been in line an hour. In this way, I wasted a bunch of time hoping to get a pic with Ana Gasteyer (didn't do photos), Hunter Parrish (didn't do photos, but posed for a handful of freebies while exiting; I had planned to ask him why so many of my commenters are convinced he's anti-gay) and Jan Maxwell (never showed, I was told). Luckily, I found out in advance that Cheyenne Jackson had canceled...for the "fourth year in a row!" seethed one (former?) fan. (I already "had" Cheyenne.)
It's all for a good cause, but it just seems like opportunities to make money were not maximized when you'd see stars who said no to photos posing for free as they left.
On the bright side, the first two people I wanted to get—Next to Normal's Alice Ripley ($20) and Joyce DeWitt ($10), who's replaced Eve Plumb in Miss Abigail—were gotten. Alice's line was not long but we stood there an hour until she came over and I wound up having to dash back over to be the last person in line for Joyce.
Alice looked great. I told her that for someone famous for playing a mom she's a hot babe. I also told her that Next to Normal had moved me more than anything I'd ever seen (boy, was that true...I sobbed in that!). She thanked me for that and was gracious. Joyce was peppy and friendly, too, huggy and kind.
If you're listening, organizers, you've got a great thing going with some strong talent and sweet, dedicated volunteers, but you need to corral that autograph/photo aspect. Some fans I spoke with reminisced fondly about the rainy year when everything was done inside the Roseland—they got more stars and it was supposedly quite organized.
Don't make me volunteer to do this right! :)