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Minty Organization Hosts Inaugural Dinner Gala to Salute Staten Island High School Theatre Tonight

Minty Organization Hosts Inaugural Dinner Gala to Salute Staten Island High School Theatre Tonight
The Cast of Msgr. Farrell's THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

The Minty Organization for the Performing Arts, the newly formed non-profit parent company of The Minty Awards, will host its Inaugural Dinner Gala this January in an effort to salute Theatre History in Staten Island High Schools, while supporting the current generation of High School Thespians.

The Inaugural Minty Organization Dinner Gala will be held tonight, January 16 at 7pm at Nicotra's Ballroom, The Hilton Garden Inn. Tickets to the Gala are $85 for adults (open bar included) and $65 for those under 21. They can be purchased by visiting www.mintys.org or calling 718-702-0472.

Co-sponsoring the Dinner Gala is The Hilton Garden Inn and Where-to-Turn Organization. At the Gala, The Minty Organization will also recognize individuals and institutions that have made a positive impact on the High School Theatre Community.

Receiving the Educator of the Arts Award posthumously is the Founding Father of Staten Island High School Theatre, Carl William Lesch. In 1964, Lesch brought the first musical to a Staten Island High School, OKLAHOMA! at St. Peter's Boys. For the next two decades, Lesch's talents as producer, director, and musical director were showcased at St. Peter's Boys and Girls High Schools, Moore Catholic High School, Msgr. Farrell High School, and several other schools and churches throughout Staten Island. Among the shows that Lesch brought to the High Schools included HELLO DOLLY, MY FAIR LADY, SOUTH PACIFIC, BRIGADOON, and CAROUSEL. It was during this last show, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic tragedy, which Lesch took a fatal fall from the St. Peter's stage during the final dress rehearsal and passed away shortly after. Thirty years after his death, his memory lives on and the people he worked with still remember him fondly.

"I have been amazed at how many people Carl touched through his two decades of working in our high schools," stated Michael J. Pinto, Sea '06, Executive Director of The Minty Organization and Founder of the Minty Awards. "He helped not only those who he worked with grow as actors, but as people. I feel truly honored to be able to remember not only a remarkable director in that he started what we all do today, but more so a remarkable human being."

Performing in Lesch's honor will be members of the St. Peter's High School Glee Club & Seton Chorale Alumni; both groups were founded by Lesch in the 1960s.

Receiving the Community Enrichment Award will be Wagner College. Wagner College, founded in 1883, is now one of the Nation's Top Ranked Collegiate Theatre Programs. Presenting 8 productions a year, the department uses both the Main Stage Theatre and Stage One to present shows ranging from Broadway Musicals to Plays to Dance Concerts.

Staying true to its mission in giving back to the community, Wagner College has been a co- sponsor of the past three Minty Awards, enabling the Minty's to help give back to the Staten Island community. Through its partnership with The Minty Awards, high school students have been able to not only rehearse on a college campus, but receive feedback and critiques from some of the industry's top professionals.

Performing that evening to honor Wagner College will be alumni of both Island high schools and Wagner's renowned Theatre Program.

The remaining award, The Distinguished Alumni Award, is to be named shortly by the organization's Board of Directors.

The cast of Msgr. Farrell's THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, which received The 2013 St. Genesius Award for Outstanding Musical, will reunite one final time to kick off the evening with a performance featuring lyrics specially penned for the Gala.

The 1964 cast of St. Peter's Boys' OKLAHOMA! will also be honored, the first musical production in a Staten Island high school, celebrating its Fiftieth Anniversary this March.

"For the past three years we have been able to honor our current students, but now we have this wonderful opportunity to honor those who have come before us," said Rebecca Sciannameo, Hill '09, Vice President for Events. "It is important that these current students know and pay tribute to the men and women who started these programs and inspired countless generations of young actors."

Founded in 2010, The Minty Awards has saluted the best and brightest of Staten Island's Catholic High School Theatre Departments, donating over $20,000 back to the schools. This year, Curtis, New Dorp, Port Richmond, Susan E. Wagner, and Tottenville High Schools have accepted an invitation to create a Minty Awards to honor the Theatre Departments of the Island's public high schools. Both ceremonies will take place in June.

The remaining Board members of The Minty Organization include Jessica Caracciolo, Joseph Caramanno, Diana Ciavarella, Christina Moore, and Robert Santimauro.

The Mission of The Minty Organization for the Performing Arts: "We hope to start a tradition which honors the sacrifice and dedication of High School students in dramatic arts programs. The Minty Awards aims to promote these programs, performers, and all who support them. We believe that these students and their schools provide excellent examples of self-discipline, teamwork, and faith, and we should celebrate their efforts and achievements."

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