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Recap: Broadway Beacon Awards

June 17th, 2015 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

Roma Torre and Tony Danza at the Broadway Beacon Awards (photo provided by Sam Morris PR via The Broadway Blog.)

Roma Torre and Tony Danza at the Broadway Beacon Awards (photo provided by Sam Morris PR via The Broadway Blog.)

Actor Tony Danza. Opera diva Renée Fleming. Former Metropolitan Opera General Manager Joseph Volpe. Accounting firm partner Christopher Cacace. It seems like an unlikely quartet, yet each of these individuals share a common goal: advocating for live theater and arts education. On Monday evening, they were each honored with a Broadway Beacon Award presented by Inside Broadway, a non-profit organization that offers theater workshops, seminars, backstage tours, and in-school programs to students and senior citizens. The organization hosted their annual Broadway Beacon Awards at the swank JW Marriott Essex House on Central Park South.

Shortly after gala attendees settled into the ballroom, students from PS/IS 104K burst onto the stage in fully choreographed and vocal renditions of “On Broadway,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Baby that is Rock and Roll.” The Brooklyn-based school is one of 90 that collaborate with Inside Broadway.

Renée Fleming (photo provided by Sam Morris PR via The Broadway Blog.)

Renée Fleming (photo provided by Sam Morris PR via The Broadway Blog.)

NY1 personality Roma Torre followed the performance and served as the evening’s host. Usually known for her sound bite critiques of the New York theater scene, Torre assured the crowd that she was only bringing praise to the evening’s proceedings. “If anyone is concerned about the future of Broadway, they needn’t worry after seeing these kids perform,” she raved.

Inside Broadway’s Founding Director, Michael Presser, spoke briefly, citing that over the past year 25,000 kids participated in one of his team’s numerous offerings.

Danza was the night’s first award recipient and discussed the challenges of growing up in today’s world, but added that, “When you teach a kid to act, you teach a kid how to communicate.” Danza, whose Broadway credits include The Iceman Cometh, The Producers, and the recently short-lived Honeymoon In Vegas, joked about the name of his Broadway Beacon Award. “Because Honeymoon in Vegas closed in such a short time and was overlooked by Tony voters, some people feel as though it never existed,” he explained. “So I would like to re-name this the ‘Honeymoon in Vegas did exist award’.”

Bass-Baritone James Morris presented the next award to his former boss, Joseph Volpe. Volpe, who began his career at the Metropolitan Opera, climbed the ranks and spent the last 16 of his 42 years as the General Manager of the prestigious company before retiring in 2006. Volpe expressed his thanks for the honor and shared the belief that the “world of theater happens both onstage and off and presents opportunities to dream.”

The cast of Kinky Boots rocked the gala with some mid-evening entertainment. Andy Kelso, Timothy Ware, and Jeanna De Waal sang “Step One,” “Hold Me in Your Heart,” and “The History of Wrong Guys” respectively.

Following a brief live auction, Volpe returned to the microphone and lavished praise on opera star Fleming, otherwise known as “the people’s Diva.” “When Renée performs, she’s magic,” said Volpe before inviting her to the stage for her award. Fleming, who recently appeared on Broadway in Living On Love, was quick to convey her awe for the dedication of theater actors, who perform eight shows a week.

Cacace was the final recipient of the Broadway Beacon award. As Partner-In-Charge of Theater, Media, and Entertainment at Marks Paneth accounting firm, Cacace has been a strong ally for arts education and thanked his other law partners and his wife.

To learn more about Inside Broadway and how you can get involved, visit www.insidebroadway.org.

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

Tony Danza Becomes Inside Broadway’s 2015 Arts & Education Ambassador

October 1st, 2014 Comments off

honeymoonStar of stage and screen Tony Danza (who stars in Jason Robert Brown’s highly anticipated new Broadway musical, Honeymoon in Vegas, starting performances at The Nederlander on Nov. 18) has partnered with the Great White Way’s leading arts-education organization Inside Broadway to be their 2015 Arts and Education Ambassador.

He will join Inside Broadway for several events throughout the next nine months to further their mission of helping to promote theater education in New York City’s public schools; this includes a special Teacher Appreciation Party on September 30 which opens Inside Broadway’s school season, and Tony will also make a visit to one of the schools Inside Broadway works with to meet with the students and discuss careers in theatre.

“I’m so excited to be an education ambassador for Inside Broadway, says Danza. “I can’t wait to bring the magic of theater into public schools all over the city, and I happen to think Honeymoon in Vegas is the kind of show that will hook kids on musical theater for the rest of their lives.”

“Each year we invite our teachers to a special afternoon to thank them for keeping arts in the schools. This year we are delighted to have the popular TV and film actor Tony Danza as our special guest and we are also delighted that he has agreed to be our 2015 Arts and Education Ambassador this season,” says Inside Broadway’s Executive Director Michael Presser. “There is no one who has shown such a strong commitment to bringing the arts into the lives of young people as Tony and having him open our season is a real honor.”

Sondheim Reveals New Show, Chita Rivera Returns & More Theater News

March 2nd, 2012 Comments off

Extra! Extra! We’ve got your quick and tasty theater news headlines for the week that was:

  • The First Lady of high kicks Chita Rivera will return to Broadway next season in the first-ever revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the choose-your-own ending Tony winner for Best Musical 1986.
  • Hollywood heat-seekers Justin Long (Going the Distance, Mac commercials) and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) will be taking over the lead roles in the hit comedy Seminar beginning April 3.
  • The King of creepy/awesome children’s literature Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is making it to Broadway as the critically-acclaimed West End adaptation of Matilda The Musical jumps across the pond for a 2013 debut.