By TOM CHESEK
The gavel’s come down; the auction is closed; and when all’s said and done, the Boss is gonna buy Basie a new pair of shoes, and then some.
Price: $1,000 a pair.
The auction, which ran from March 20 into last week, elicited the expected ecstatic response from all over the United States and exotic foreign ports.
Although (to no one’s surprise) the action skewed heavily toward residents of New Jersey and New York, Basie staffers have been busily contacting winners in Massachusetts, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas and California as well as Italy and Germany to deliver the word that, for them, the Boss bus had indeed come in.
While theatre management declined to disclose the total take from the auction, director of patron programs Rachel Warnick says the Count Basie Theatre Foundation more than met its target figure.
The unprecedented offering was a “very interesting experience” that resulted in “some equally interesting numbers,” with a single-ticket high bid of $3,500, Warnick says. (A limit of six seats per bidder was established.)
According to Warnick, “Much of the bidding fell into different stepping-block amounts; for example, we got a lot of $1,200 bids; a lot of $1,250, $1,500.”
“What surprised us is how many people were able to win their seats just by bidding the minimum of $1,000… or in some cases, one dollar over the minimum.”
As redbankgreen reported here, a limited number of center orchestra seats were reserved for regular sponsors of the Count Basie, and offered for sale at a price range of $5,000 to $15,000.
That said, the theatre’s management has now decided to open the balcony to a few hundred regular supporters, with an e-mail blitz yesterday that offered 200 pairs of nosebleed-seat tix for $1,000 a pair.
The offer, conveyed exclusively to members of the Count Basie mailing list, makes tickets available only by the pair, with a limit of two pairs per purchaser. Customers won’t be able to buy them online; they need to visit the Basie box office or call 732.842.9000. The ducats can only be picked up in person by the purchaser on the night of the show. In other words, if you’re a regular recipient of e-mail updates from the Count, don’t be so trigger-happy on the DELETE button.
If the special sales offer is still too rich for your Bossphile blood, don’t despair: the theatre is continuing to accept entries for a Rockin’ Raffle in which a pair of prime front row seats will be awarded to one lucky winner, with a drawing n the Basie building’s lobby scheduled for 4p on Thursday, May 1st (the winner, of course, need not be present in person).
The 1,000 available raffle entries will be sold for $100-per-entry while supplies last, and an online form for the drawing can be found right here. There’s a $4 service charge for all entries filed online.
The lion’s share of auction and sale proceeds is expected to be dedicated to the summer 2008 renovation and restoration project at the Monmouth Street landmark, with a portion of collected monies earmarked for The Count’s Cool School and other programs sponsored by the foundation.
Springsteen’s missus, singer-songwriter Patti Scialfa, is honorary chairperson for the nonprofit venue’s capital campaign.