Oscar Hammerstein Museum Gala Featuring Christy Altomare, Derek Klena and Justin Guarini Raises $165,000

It was a celebratory summer evening as theatre-lovers from far and wide gathered to support the nonprofit Oscar Hammerstein Museum and Theatre Education Center.

By: Aug. 03, 2022
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Oscar Hammerstein Museum Gala Featuring Christy Altomare, Derek Klena and Justin Guarini Raises $165,000

It was a celebratory summer evening as theatre-lovers from far and wide gathered in Buckingham, Pennsylvania to support the nonprofit Oscar Hammerstein Museum and Theatre Education Center (OHMTEC) in its quest to raise funds to purchase Oscar Hammerstein II's historic Pennsylvania home, Highland Farm. Nearly $165,000 was netted from "Broadway Sings The Sound of Hammerstein," an exclusive gala held on July 11, 2022 at The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, the former estate of George S. Kaufman, a contemporary of Hammerstein's.

The glamorous evening included cocktails and a three-course dinner and featured entertainment by Broadway stars Christy Altomare (Anastasia, Mama Mia, Carrie), Derek Klena (Jagged Little Pill, Wicked, Anastasia) and Justin Guarini (In Transit, Wicked, American Idol, American Idiot). The talented and dynamic Ted Chapin (former President and Chief Creative Officer of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization) hosted the event. David Manning (Silence: The Musical, Reefer Madness) provided accompaniment on a Steinway Spirio grand piano donated by Jacob's Music for the evening.

Over two hundred supporters attended the gala, heralding from Vermont to Florida and west to California. Luminaries in attendance included Will Hammerstein, grandson of Oscar, and Melinda Mathias Walsh, Oscar's granddaughter and member of OHMTEC's Honorary Advisory Board. Also in attendance was Sam von Trapp, the grandson of Baroness Maria von Trapp, from whom Rodgers and Hammerstein derived the inspiration for their blockbuster musical, The Sound of Music. Von Trapp is also a member of OHMTEC's Honorary Advisory Board and provided the beer for the event from the family's brewery, von Trapp Brewing in Stowe, Vermont.

Other members of OHMTEC's advisory board who supported the event included actress and author Mariel Hemingway, who was scheduled to attend, but had to cancel due to her filming schedule. She instead provided a welcome video for attendees. Teen actress Kassie Mundhenk, whose home is in Bucks County, PA, spoke in support of OHMTEC via recorded video. National Medal of the Arts winning choral composer Morten Lauridsen provided a private consultation as an offering for the silent auction.

Over seventy businesses and individuals from the community came together in support of OHMTEC's mission through sponsorships and by providing in-kind donations of goods and services for the event and auction. Premiere sponsors included Visit Bucks County through a generous grant from the Bucks County Tourism Grant Program, Café with Soul, Capital Health, Class-Harlan Real Estate and Gemmi Construction, Inc. Event sponsors included Byers' Choice Ltd., Concord Theatricals, Doylestown Health, Eastburn and Gray PC, Golden Blossom Honey, Judith Abrams Productions, Parx Casino, Snap Divorce, The Doylestown Inn and Van Cleef Engineering Associates, LLC.

A very special part of the evening was performances by winners of OHMTEC's International Youth Solo Contest. Winners who attended and sang during the cocktail hour hailed from Plymouth, Massachusetts; Davis, California; and Naperville, Illinois; as well as towns in Pennsylvania. Listeners' attention was help rapt by these talented young performers, who rose to the top of 151 entrants in the contest from five continents.

The Broadway Sings The Sound of Hammerstein gala was produced as part of OHMTEC's fundraising campaign to purchase, restore, and preserve Highland Farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Oscar Hammerstein II's former home and creative epicenter. The mission is to honor Hammerstein's work as a librettist and lyricist, and his legacy of mentorship and social activism.

The Hammerstein family lived at Highland Farm for the last 20 years of Oscar's life. This is the place where he forged his legendary partnership with Richard Rodgers and that inspired many of their greatest musical works, including The Sound of Music, Carousel, The King and I, Oklahoma! and South Pacific. The historic house at Highland Farm is also the place where Hammerstein mentored a young Stephen Sondheim, and where he contributed to society by increasing our awareness of social issues and the need for tolerance of diversity, as illustrated in songs like "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught," from South Pacific. Over 75 Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, and Pulitzer Prizes can be directly traced back to Highland Farm.OHMTEC's goal is to create a multifaceted and dynamic museum experience, with a strong theatre education component, serving as a place of inspiration for Broadway fans and humanitarians alike. Through fundraising efforts, grants, and private donations, OHMTEC has raised nearly $1 million towards the purchase of Highland Farm. The project is the recipient of a $500,000 matching grant from the state of Pennsylvania. An additional $1 million is needed to complete this first phase of the project, to purchase and preserve the home. The capstone of the memorable evening was an audience sing-along of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "It's a Grand Night for Singing," led by Altomare, Guarini and Klena - and indeed it was a grand night!

"We are extraordinarily grateful for the entire community's support of this important historic project," said Greg Roth, president of OHMTEC's board of directors. "When we see the breadth of support, particularly from the local community, but also throughout the southeastern Pennsylvania/New Jersey region, and with donations coming in from all over, you realize the depth of meaning Oscar Hammerstein's home has for our country and indeed the world." Roth went on, "As successful as this event was, we still have work to do to raise the $1 million dollars necessary to purchase the property, and further to renovate the house as a museum and build the theatre education center. We invite all who love Oscar Hammerstein's music and admire his legacy of mentorship and social activism to donate to make this dream a reality."

Donations of any amount are welcome and can be made by check, credit card or appreciated securities. Find information at hammersteinmuseum.org. A limited number of naming opportunities are being offered for rooms and spaces in the house and barn at Highland Farm. To learn availability and prices for naming, contact Christine Junker, Secretary/Treasurer at hammersteinmuseum@gmail.com.


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