Fundraising Concert and Play at THE PIT Honors the Memory of a Talented Young Man's Life and Work, 5/22 at 12-3 pm
It was the kind of news that makes you feel like a piece of your heart has been cut out.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from a woman named Alison Rosen, saying she knew me because her son Michael Vincent went to pre-school with my daughter Jean Louise (now 23) in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Of course, I remembered Alison and Michael from the play dates, the birthday parties, and one little play that Michael wrote and the kids performed in when they were around three years old. Nobody could know then that Michael Vincent would pursue a career in music, theater, and comedy, ultimately receiving a "Young Playwright Award" at Brooklyn's Edward R. Murrow High School.
Neither could anybody know that Michael Vincent Rosen-Pipitone would be dead at 21 from Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMC), as Alison wrote in her email, "a treatable side effect of medication used to treat mental illness." As a parent who had the occasional nightmare about a tragic accident to my daughter and thinking that would be something I would never be able to bear, Alison's message brought me to tears almost instantly.
I always remembered Alison--a schoolteacher--as one of those outgoing, fun, plucky parents who always conveyed optimism and positivity, and receiving her email almost 20 years after last seeing her confirmed that. In addition to telling me her incredibly devastating news, she was also writing to tell me that she had started a foundation in Michael Vincent's memory-the MVRP Foundation-and was planning to stage their second benefit fundraiser on May 22 at THE PIT (123 East 24th Street) to raise money for scholarships for young adults in financial and emotional need. The Foundation also helps fund and support many different schools, students and programs. This year, the Foundations goal is to raise $50,000 to support the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) by funding their film and theater department and clubs, and provide scholarships to the People's Improv Theater (The PIT) as well as to the National Alliance for Mental Illness' (NAMI) local chapter NYC.
"Michael was an artist: an actor, playwright, cartoonist, comedian and character-voice actor, among other things," remembers his loving Aunt Michelle Rosen, a professional singer and voice coach. "He was also the kindest and most compassionate human I've ever known and one of the funniest. He was much beloved in our family."
Of course, the most fitting fundraising event would be the "World Premiere" of a one-act play written by Michael Vincent just five months before his death. Called The Comeback Kid or Autumn Seltzer, the play will be presented in a style fashioned after the old time radio shows, and has been described as "zany and absurd," while taking the audience into a funny exploration of American values and twisted circumstances. Brandon Zelman and Harrison Bryan are the play's directors, while performances during the day's program will feature Michael Vincent's aunt Michelle, award-wining dancer/choreographer/singer Janis Brenner, as well as composer Stan Killian on tenor sax.
The musical performances and Michael Vincent's play will be presented from at The People's Improv Theater--THE PIT-(123 East 24th Street), 1-3 pm after a reception in the lobby from 12-1 pm. Tickets range from $15 for students, $25 for general admission, and then $50-$3,000 depending on the fundraising level audience members want to donate. For ticket information, go to: http://mvrp.brownpapertickets.com/
There is also a CrowdRise fundraising campaign ongoing to raise money for the MVRP Foundation at www.crowdrise.com/mvrp.
For more information, contact Alison Rosen at Alison@mvrp.info