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BC/EFA Helps Make HIV Struggle Bearable

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Here are the bear facts: Every year Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS holds an annual event called "Broadway Bears," which should not be confused with another of the organization's annual events, "Broadway Bares." The difference is that the latter involves removing clothing to wild applause; the former (scheduled for this Sun., Feb. 11) involves putting clothes on, to just as much acclaim.

For "Broadway Bears," the clothes are lovingly put on Teddy bears (and in some cases, Teddi bears), to represent characters in some of Broadway's better-known shows. In the first three years, BC/EFA raised $428,645 for its programs on behalf of entertainment professionals with AIDS and HIV disease. This year the group hopes to break last year's record haul of $155,195.

This year's crop of bears—numbering 44 at press time—includes representations of everything from "Aida" to "Ziegfeld's Rio Rita." They range from the Thai-me-up splendor of "The King and I" to the near-déshabillé of "The Pajama Game," from "Cats" to "The Lion King" to "The Lion in Winter." Virtually every bear is signed by a cast member of the shows they represent or a creator, or both: "Company" is represented by a bear signed by Elaine Stritch, Harold Prince, and Stephen Sondheim. For other, more or less random, examples, Lily Tom-lin signed the "Search for Signs of Intelli-gent Life" bear; Harvey Fierstein signed the "La Cage aux Folles" entry, and both Barry Bostwick and John Travolta signed the "Grease" one.

The auction will be held at the Hudson Theatre, located at 145 W. 44th St. VIP advance tickets, priced at $150 each, allow ticketholders to preview the collection at 6 pm. General admission seating, at $35 per ticket, begins at 7 pm. Both include the use of an open bar; it never hurts to have people at an auction in a very good mood. Richard Simmons will host the event, and Lorna Kelly will be the auctioneer.

Interested parties may enter their bids ahead of Sunday's event by calling (212) 940-0770, extension 228, or they may participate in live telephone bidding by calling the same number.

Internet users can preview the bears by logging on to www.broadwaycares.org. Tickets are available at (212) 840-0770, extension 268.

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