Broadway Stars Come Out for Third Annual Broadway Supports LIHSA Fundraiser

By: Nov. 15, 2017

The stars came out for Nassau BOCES Long Island High School for the Arts (LIHSA) at the school's third "Broadway Supports LIHSA" fundraising event. The gala production featured Broadway stars who donated their time for a spectacular one-night only event to help raise money toward and awareness of LIHSA. The much-anticipated annual fundraiser for Long Island's only public high school for the visual and performing arts (LIHSA) has become a premier event for the greater theater community.

This year's line-up included: MiG Ayesa (Rock of Ages); Steven "HeaveN" Cantor (In Transit); LIHSA Alum Buddy Casimano (Miss Saigon); Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk Award winner Robert Cuccioli (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Les Miserables, Jekyll and Hyde); Joshua Dela Cruz (Aladdin); Lana Gordon (Chicago, The Lion King, Jesus Christ Superstar); Taylor Iman Jones (Groundhog Day); Stanley Wayne Mathis (Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Book of Mormon, Wonderful Town, Kiss Me Kate, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Lion King, Jelly's Last Jam; Oh Kay!) Jon Peterson (Cabaret); Wayne Pretlow (The Civil War); Anthony Rosenthal (Falsettos); Evan Ruggiero, Ayla Schwartz (Frozen); and Sarah Jane Shanks (Cats, Bright Star, Promises Promises, Shrek the Musical, The Apple Tree, Wonderful Town) and Musical Director/Accompanist Eugene Gwozdz.

The brainchild of renowned producer Stephen DeAngelis, who produced more than 200 Broadway concerts and served as casting director of the Broadway revival of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, and Broadway veteran Jerome Vivona, current artistic director of the American Theater Dance Workshop, "Broadway Supports LIHSA" began in 2016 and has been produced and directed by the blockbuster duo ever since.

LIHSA students had the opportunity to perform twice during the evening, along with the stellar cast of Broadway celebrities. They opened with a medley from On Your Feet and returned to back-up Wayne Pretlow as he sang, "Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat" from Guys and Dolls.

"It is deeply touching that these talented Broadway entertainers donate their time to put together an unprecedented performance to support LIHSA," said Nassau BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Robert R. Dillon. "The evening will not only help raise awareness of our stellar arts programs, it will also provide our current and future LIHSA students the opportunity to see how successful they can become!"

Before each performance, the stars briefly shared their backgrounds with audience members, which was followed by an evening of extraordinary performances. A duet featuring In Transit beat boxer Steven "HeaveN" Cantor and dancer Evan Ruggiero, whose determination and passion for tap dancing prevailed over bone cancer and a "peg leg," resulted in a mid-show standing ovation that brought down the house. Dancer, choreographer and LIHSA alum Buddy Casimano returned to his alma mater to perform a stunning dance number for the adoring crowd. Also featured were child performers Ayla Schwartz, who is ten years old and about to make her Broadway debut as young Elsa in Frozen the Musical, and Anthony Rosenthal, who recently starred as Christian Borle and Stephanie J. Block's son Jason in Falsettos. Lana Gordon performed "All That Jazz" from Chicago, having recently starred as Velma Kelly in the Broadway Company opposite pop icon Brandy. The evening's show-stopping finale was delivered by Robert Cuccioli, who performed "This is the Moment" from his Tony-nominated role in Jekyll and Hyde.

The entire cast spent the day at LIHSA rehearsing and spending time with students during a Q & A session where they shared stories about their careers and offered insights to the industry. Theater Tech students worked steadily throughout the day to ensure the technical aspects of the show were executed smoothly.

At the start of 2016, pop music legend Billy Joel donated $1 million to LIHSA, along with his support of the school and its 40-plus-year history of nurturing Long Island's up-and-coming artists. "I went to public school on Long Island and I am grateful for the music program and my music teachers for helping provide me the tools for which I have based my career," he wrote in a letter to the Nassau BOCES Board.

The Campaign for LIHSA is affiliated with the Nassau BOCES Educational Foundation, which is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation. The LIHSA campaign includes educators, artists, students and parents who are committed to supporting the only public arts high school on Long Island.

The Long Island High School for the Arts Parent Teacher Student Association's (PTSA's) mission is to build a community by enhancing relationships inside and outside LIHSA's walls. With community support, the PTSA will work to increase enrollment and broaden communication among parents, the school and Nassau BOCES.

A vital regional resource, Nassau BOCES offers state-of-the-art programs for learners of all ages and abilities as well as cost-effective services for school districts and municipalities. We empower students to achieve their maximum potential in alternative, artistic, outdoor, special education, virtual, and career and technical environments. We offer adult education and a variety of programs that are vital to improving the Long Island regional economy. In addition, our technology services form the backbone of many school districts' infrastructure. As the county's educational leader in implementing the state's reform efforts, we are helping to shape the future of education. To learn more, visit and like us at

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