Continuing a three-year trend, last Sunday's auction for Center Stage once again set a record. After the final bell sounded at midnight, the grand total was $242,772.
Auction coordinator Sydney Wilner described her reaction as "speechless." The 2003 amount was an increase of more than $29,000 over last year's figure.
The auction brought in the largest price ever paid for a single item -- $8,000 for a seven-day Mediterranean cruise on one of the SeaDream yachts. "Trips did especially well," said Wilner, pointing out that a seven-day Carnival Caribbean cruise in the owner's suite fetched $5,200.
Other top-selling items included $4,000 to appear as an extra on HBO's The Wire (paid by a Millersville woman for her 18-year-old daughter), and $2,800 paid by a long-time Center Stage supporter to have lunch with "Nana," the giant dog from the theater's production of Peter Pan, accompanied by "Nana's" handler, Center Stage managing director, Michael Ross.
Sports items also proved popular -- the use of two Camden Yards skyboxes fetched $2,900 and $2,650, respectively, and a football autographed by the Baltimore Ravens fetched $1,000. In addition, a backstage tour and pair of tickets to the Broadway musical Hairspray went for $1,100.
Proceeds from the 16-hour auction, sponsored by The Sun and broadcast on WBAL-AM, benefit Center Stage's operating fund. Over the past 26 years, the auction has raised more than $2.8 million.