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Mary Lou Barber, Edward Pleasant and Ben Rauch Perform at 2014 Interfaith Awards Gala Tonight


Musical theatre performers MARY LOU BARBER, EDWARD PLEASANT and BEN RAUCH will be performing dramatic readings of excerpts from The Very Reverend James Parks Morton's forthcoming memoir at the 12th Annual James Parks Morton Interfaith Awards gala tonight, June 5 at the New York Hilton Midtown. This is the first time in the history of the Interfaith Center of New York (ICNY) awards dinner that a theatrical event has been presented.

The gala event and sneak peek of the memoir excerpts are being produced by Broadway veteran Jonathan Cerullo of JSC Theatricals.

Mary Lou Barber - Actor: National Tours: Cats, 42nd Street, A Chorus Line and Sophisticated Ladies. Off-Broadway: Co-directed and appeared in Sordid Lives. Regional and Summer Stock: Anything Goes, Sullivan and Gilbert, Me and My Girl, My One and Only, Singin' in the Rain, Paper Moon, Of Thee I Sing, Rhapsody in Gershwin, Showtune, The Music of Jerry Herman, Side by Side, A Grand Night for Singing and Cole. Choreographer: performances for the Philhallmonic Society with Broadway Composer & Producer Phil Hall, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and Three Penny Opera for the Indianapolis Opera, Westminster Choir College, Omaha Symphony, and Trial by Jury, and Patience for the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players with Director Bill Fabris, and Oklahoma! for the Augusta Opera. She is pleased and honored to be participating in celebrating the honorees for the 2014 James Parks Morton Interfaith Awards Gala.

Edward Pleasant - Edward Pleasant, baritone, is critically acclaimed for his beautiful, luscious voice singing in both opera and musical theater. He is a gifted actor with wide dramatic range. Mr. Pleasant has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the White House. Operatic and Musical Theater: A baritone performing with numerous national and international orchestras and companies including the New York City Opera, Vienna (Austria) Symphony, Connecticut Grand Opera, Opera New England, and National Philharmonic Orchestra. His roles include Sam Perry in Strange Fruit, Jake in Porgy and Bess, Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte, Giuseppe Palmieri in The Gondoliers, Pish-Tush in The Mikado, Nardo in La Finta Giardiniera, Jacque in The New Moon, Zodzetrick in Joplin's Treemonisha, Harriet Tubman's Father in Freedom Train, Coalhouse Walker in Ragtime, and Nat King Cole in the one-man show Sincerely, Nat. Concert, Oratorio and Orchestral Credits: Bach's St. John Passion and Christmas Oratorio, Beethoven's Mass in C, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Handel's Messiah and Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs, Ellington's Sacred Selections, and Robert Ray's Gospel Mass. Discography: The Seven Last Words of Christ for Gothic Records, Kurt Weill's The Flight of Lindbergh for Voices International, and a special 250th Anniversary edition of The Music of Mozart for the Madacy label. Mr. Pleasant can also be heard on the CDs entitled Black Manhattan Vols. 1 and 2 on the New World Records label. He also serves as the soloist/choir director for both a Reform Jewish temple and a church. He has conducted numerous interfaith events for these congregations and other faith-based communities.

Ben Rauch - Ben can be seen in the upcoming film Jersey Boys as the pianist/singer for the Four Seasons. Actor: Television: Gossip Girl, ED, Strangers with Candy, WB Team 11, and Central High. Theatre: A Few Good Men, People Are Living There, Lost in Yonkers, Miklat, The Unexpected Guest, The Sunshine Boys, Spring Awakening (Broadway Workshop), Ludlow Ladd, Starmites, The Gifts of the Magi, Mental: The Musical, Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, Jack and the Beanstalk.. Film: Tenderness, Best Laid Plans, 5G, and Nomi's Bat Mitzvah. Music Performed, Written, and Produced: "At the Water's Edge" (lyrics co-written by Winston Biegel), "I Love Asian Girls," The World is Watching, "Patronizing You," "Partially Stalked Love," and "Intern Rap." Religious/Spiritual: Ben is a Jewish cantorial soloist, musician, and spiritual teacher at two Jewish (Reform and Conservative) synagogues, is the director of music at a Catholic Church and has served as a musical director for many other religious denominations. Ben practices yoga and is eager to appear before a diverse religious audience.

Jonathan Cerullo - Event Producer and Stage Director: Broadway: Say Goodnight Gracie, Band In Berlin, Anna Karenina, Legs Diamond, and CATS. Off-Broadway: La Mama, Pins and Needles, New York Musical Theatre Festival, HB Playwrights Foundation, Festival of Short Plays, Midsummer Nights, Wonderful Town, and Uta Hagen's 50-Year Tribute. TV: Great Performances "Evening At Pops," Donny Osmond's "This Is The Moment," "Natalie Cole's Christmas Special." Film: The First Wives Club, The Stepford Wives, Mr. Abbott Awards (a promotional video for the Stage Directors & Chorographers Foundation). Regionally: Big Apple Circus' Carnivale and Picturesque, Camelot at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, and private dance instructor to Uta Hagen in Six Dance Lessons at the Geffen Playhouse. Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Actors' Equity Association and the Dramatist Guild of America, 2012 alumnus of both the Commercial Theatre Institute and the NY Foundation for the Arts Entrepreneurial program and is a proud to serve on the SDC Callaway Award Committee.

The James Parks Morton Interfaith Award is named for ICNY's founder and Chair Emeritus, The Very Reverend James Parks Morton, who served as Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for 25 years and today remains as an active ICNY Board member. As a visionary Episcopal spiritual leader, he created a thriving creative community where cutting-edge cultural, ecological and social justice programs were incubated and successfully implemented.

The Interfaith Center of New York, founded in 1997, is a secular educational non-profit organization which seeks to make New York City and the world safe for religious differences by increasing respect and mutual understanding among people of different faiths, ethnic and cultural traditions and by fostering cooperation among religious communities and civic organizations to solve common social problems,

The Very Rev. James Parks Morton, Founder and Chair Emeritus -The Very Reverend James Parks Morton founded the ICNY after retiring as Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1997. He became Dean of the Cathedral in 1972, and in those 25 years achieved recognition throughout the world as one of the most energetic and accomplished religious leaders of our time. In 1973, he conceived the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), helping people rebuild, occupy, and own their own apartments - the first of many outreach projects to become national models. Others included Homes for the Homeless, serving the poorest families by helping them to find housing and attain life-skills needed to maintain their homes, and the Stoneyard Apprentice Program to train local unemployed youth to become skilled stone carvers and masons. Dean Morton opened the Cathedral to the arts through artist-in-residence programs; participants have included saxophonist Paul Winter, high wire artist Philippe Petit, Early Music conductor Fred Renz, the African-American "Forces of Nature Dance Company", Renaissance Italian Street Theatre I Giullari di Piazza, and the American Poets Corner. Among his interfaith activities, Dean Morton served as president of the Temple of Understanding (1995-1997), and as co-chair of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders (1985-1993). The Dean is presently writing his autobiography.

On Thursday evening, June 5, THE INTERFAITH CENTER OF NEW YORK (ICNY) will celebrate its annual tradition of honoring individuals at ICNY's 12th Annual James Parks Morton Interfaith Awards Dinner. This year's event will honor:

The HONORABLE AL GORE - 45th Vice President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2007

PETER L. ZIMROTH - Senior Counsel, Arnold & Porter LLP and Director, Center on Civil Justice, NYU Law School

GAETANA ENDERS - Humanitarian and International Editor, Hola Magazine

HIS HOLINESS SRI SWAMI SATCHIDANANDA (posthumous) - Interfaith Visionary and Founder, Integral Yoga International. Accepting the award is Dean Ornish, M.D.

The evening's festivities will be hosted by New York Times writer and editorial board member, Serge Schmemann.

Previous Interfaith Award recipients include former President Bill Clinton, James Carroll, Wynton Marsalis, Alan Slifka, Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Nina & Daniel Libeskind, Shirin Ebadi (2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee, Philippe Petit, Santiago & Robertina Calatrava, Richard Gere, Amma, Imam Feisal Rauf, Nicholas D. Kristof, Paul Winter, The Hon. Stephen Breyer, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei (2005 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Carl Sagan, Steven C. Rockefeller, Rev. Kyotaro DeGuchi, Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Vartan Gregorian, Rabbi Awraham Soetendor, Leymah Gbowee (2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) and Abigail E. Disney, and Bill and Judith Moyers.

The 12th Annual Interfaith Awards Dinner will be held on Thursday, June 5 at the New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Avenue of the Americas at 53rd Street, Mercury Ballroom, 3rd floor. The gala includes cocktail hour at 6:30 PM followed by dinner, award ceremony and entertainment at 7:30 PM. Semi-formal or traditional dress. Individual tickets are available from $275 to $1,000. For tickets please contact Ellen Greeley at, log on to or call 212-870-3511 for further information.

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