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Broadway And Local Talent Join Forces For Riverdale YM-YWHA Gala RAGTIME

Broadway luminaries and local talent will join forces for a Gala concert production of the quintessential American musical, RAGTIME, a sweeping musical portrait of early-twentieth-century America that tells the story of three families in pursuit of the American Dream.

The one-night only gala event will be held at the Riverdale YM-YWHA on Sunday, November 3, 2019, and will begin at 4:30pm. The performance and honoree ceremony will be preceded by a cocktail hour and entertainment by the award-winning Riverdale Rising Stars youth theatre company. This event will benefit programs at the Riverdale Y, including the Riverdale Rising Stars scholarship fund, which enables children and teens to participate in the organization's theatrical productions.

RAGTIME will be performed at the Riverdale YM-YWHA, located at 5625 Arlington Avenue (just off of Riverdale Avenue and West 256th Street), in Riverdale, Bronx, NY. Tax-deductible tickets to the show/cocktail hour/dessert are $125. Sponsorship packages, include benefits like VIP seats, program ads, and acknowledgment in next season's programs, begin at $1,000. To purchase tickets or make a sponsorship donation, visit or contact Riverdale YM-YWHA Development Director Rick Lund at 347-913-4974 or

Our honorees are playwrights January Akselrad and Jennifer Young, Co-Founders of the national Be-A-Friend Project - an anti-bullying, pro-empathy initiative for kids, by kids.

The Project carries into action the "speak up, reach out and be a friend" message of their middle school show, It's Easy! The Friend Strong Musical which premiered in collaboration with the Riverdale Junior Rising Stars in 2015. The original cast inspired the playwrights to launch the Project, and participated in early development workshops. Four years later, the Be-A-Friend Project is a national not-for-profit organization.

The Be-A-Friend Project sends surprise deliveries of "Friend Mail," letters of peer support, to young victims of severe bullying to help them stay strong and let them know they are not alone. To date, the Be-A-Friend Project has delivered over 17,500 letters, bringing transformational peer support to Friend Mail Recipients and, at the same time, giving as many K-12 writers and artists the opportunity to show-off their kindness and build empathy by stepping-into-the-shoes of a peer and offering support.

Riverdale resident January Akselrad has a long history with the Riverdale Y, having served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Board. Jennifer Young, who resides in Cold Spring, New York, is the Co-Creator of It's Easy! The Friend Strong Musical with January, and is the Executive Director of the Be-A-Friend Project 501(c)3, which they co-founded after a decade of business partnership and friendship.

Written by the award-winning composer/lyricist team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Once on This Island, Seussical and Lucky Stiff), noted playwright Terrence McNally, and based on E.L. Doctorow's distinguished novel, RAGTIME is the winner of four Tony Awards and both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical. Called by TIME Magazine "A triumph for the stage," and by the International Herald Tribune "the best musical in twenty years," this acclaimed musical is filled with pageantry, emotion and hope, bursting onto the stage like no other musical..

This concert production will be directed by Bob Walton (performer in the Broadway productions of City of Angels and 42nd Street), and the onstage 21-piece orchestra will be conducted by Jonathan Parks (Chicago and Young Frankenstein national tours), who also serves as music director.

The cast of RAGTIME includes Broadway, national tour, and regional theatre veterans Joe Cassidy (Waitress, If/Then), Ron Gibbs (Show Boat), Joy Hermalyn (The Visit, Fiddler on the Roof), Ken Jennings (Sweeney Todd, Side Show), Gerry McIntyre (Once on This Island), Katherine McLaughlin (School of Rock), Tanisha Moore (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory national tour), Amy Jo Phillips (Show Boat), Joey Sorge (A Bronx Tale, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Follies), Alex Walton (Bye Bye Birdie at Goodspeed), Laurie Walton (Show Boat), and Jamari Williams (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations), with narration by Emily Walton (Come from Away national tour, Peter and the Starcatcher, August: Osage County).

The ensemble includes Lori Alexander, Matt Augustyniak, Michael Balin, Emily Begin, Jordan Bland, Jay Braver, John Carucci, Esther Cohen, Wylie Cohen, Brittany Dorazio, Patrick Dwyer, CARTER ELLIS, Philip Feldman, Ivis Fundichely, Colin Godwin, Deborah Gross, Sarah Hamaty, Brad Johnson, Emily Kram, Dina Lewis, Mary Lahti, Timothy Mathis, Xerron Mingo, Onyie Nwachukwu, Darian Peer, Marilyn Raider, BARBARA SALANT, Anthony Sanchez, Alex Sanders, Kristin Serafini, Anthony James Simone, DeJuan Thompson, Tasha Ward, Elana Weisenberg, and Jamie Whitfield.

Riverdale Rising Stars (Laurie Walton, Founder and Artistic Director) was created to provide the teens of the Riverdale community and beyond a professional repertory company experience. Since its inception in 2000, the organization has expanded its programming to include Rising Stars Jr., Riverdale Repertory Company, and the Riverdale Performing Arts Conservatory (RPAC), an educational program for adults and children. Of greatest importance is the way that all build self-esteem, learn enormous respect for others, develop camaraderie and create lifelong friendships. Together, these award-winning companies provide a world of expression, passion and creativity for all ages.

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