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BC/EFA Presents the Last Broadway Bears Benefit, Mar. 18; Bryan Batt & Lorna Kelly Host

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will present the 15th and grand finale edition of THE BROADWAY BEARS, the annual Broadway auction of teddy bears dressed in museum-quality outfits based on original costumes and created by acclaimed designers on March 18, 2012.

These adorable bears first arrived on the auction block in 1998 and have since raised $1,816,900 for health clinics, healthy meal programs and hundreds of other much-needed social service organizations supported nationwide by Broadway Cares.

With a bear for every taste, this year's bumper crop represents some of Broadway's most beloved and memorable characters autographed by Broadway's biggest stars, including Hugh Jackman, The Book of Mormon creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and the show's Tony-nominated leading men Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess stars Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis, and many more.

The North American Bear Co., Inc. generously donated dozens of bear skins that have been stuffed, sculpted, painted, dressed, stitched and posed to become incredible one-of-a-kind works of art. Each costume has been meticulously researched by some of the theatre community's best costume designers, as well as top designers from the doll and teddy bear world. Every bear shows expert craftsmanship.

Once again, Broadway favorite Bryan Batt (TV's "Mad Men") and long-time Sotheby's auctioneer Lorna Kelly will be on hand to host and lead the evening's festivities. Batt and Kelly will welcome a slew of celebrity presenters, introducing bears based on shows in which they performed. Celebrity presenters will be announced next week.

This year's BROADWAY BEARS collection offers a number of elegantly dressed, "red carpet" bears from such Broadway shows as:

A Chorus Line, signed by Priscilla Lopez
A Little Night Music, signed by Bernadette Peters and Stephen Sondheim
The Addams Family, signed by Kevin Chamberlin
Anything Goes, signed by Sutton Foster
Beauty and the Beast, signed by Alan Menken
Bette Midler's Clams on the Half Shell Revue, signed by Bette Midler
Billy Elliot: The Musical, signed by Sir Elton John and Gregory Jbara
Bonnie & Clyde, signed by Laura Osnes
The Book of Mormon, signed by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells
Cats, signed by Betty Buckley
Driving Miss Daisy, signed by Vanessa Redgrave
The Drowsy Chaperone, signed by Danny Burstein
Exit the King, signed by Susan Sarandon
Fiddler on the Roof, signed by Austin Pendleton
Follies, signed by Danny Burstein, Jan Maxwell, Bernadette Peters,
Ron Raines and Stephen Sondheim
George M!, signed by Joel Grey
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, signed by Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis
Grease, signed by Adrienne Barbeau
Gypsy, signed by Faith Dane and Stephen Sondheim
How to Succeed, signed by Darren Criss, Nick Jonas and Daniel Radcliffe
Hugh Jackman, Back On Broadway, signed by Hugh Jackman
Jersey Boys, signed by Frankie Vallie
Jerusalem, signed by Mark Rylance
Kiss of the Spider Woman, signed by Chita Rivera and John Kander
The Lion King, signed by Julie Taymor
The Little Mermaid, signed by Norm Lewis
Lombardi, signed by Dan Lauria and Judith Light
Lorelei, signed by Carol Channing
Mamma Mia!, signed by Judy McLane
Newsies, signed by Alan Menken
Nine, signed by Tommy Tune
The Pee-Wee Herman Show, signed by Lynne Marie Stewart
The Phantom of the Opera, signed by Judy Kaye
Priscilla Queen of the Desert, signed by Nick Adams, Bette Midler,
Tony Sheldon and Will Swenson
The Producers, signed by Mel Brooks
Promises, Promises, signed by Ellen Degeneres
Shrek The Musical, signed by Sutton Foster
Sister Act, signed by Patina Miller and Alan Menken
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark signed by Patrick Page
Sunset Boulevard, signed by Elaine Paige
Wicked, signed by Gregory Maguire and Stephen Schwartz

The grand finale auction also will feature bears representing Big River, The Crucifer of Blood, Evita, L'il Abner, Mary Poppins, Rock of Ages and War Horse.

THE BROADWAY BEARS XV collection can be previewed online at broadwaycares.org.

VIP tickets are $150 each and include an exclusive private preview of the Broadway Bears, a cocktail, hors d'oeuvres and dessert reception from 6 pm to 8 pm and reserved priority seating for the auction.

General Admission tickets are $35 each and include a cocktail and dessert reception and display of the Broadway Bears from 7 pm to 8 pm as well as unreserved seating for the auction.

Reservations may be made by calling Broadway Cares at 212.840.0770, extension 229. For those who cannot make it to the auction, live telephone bidding will be available as are pre-registered fixed bids by calling 212.840.0770, extension 229, before March 15. Internet bidding is available by visiting broadwaycares.org.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation's leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $195 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

Broadway Cares awards annual grants to more than 400 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide and is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic.

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