Photo Flash: Inside AMAS Musical Theatre's 50th Anniversary Gala
Amas Musical Theatre (Donna Trinkoff, Artistic Producer), New York City's award-winning pioneer in diversity and multi-ethnic casting in the performing arts since 1968 and celebrated its 50th Anniversary at its annual Gala Benefit Concert on Monday, April 1, 2019 at the The Angel Orensanz Foundation (172 Norfolk Street). Honorary Chair for the event was Academy Award-Winning actress and activist Whoopi Goldberg. Tony Award-winner Lillias White was Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening.
Since 1968, Amas has been a force in New York City, developing and producing new American musicals, a pioneer in non-traditional casting and multiculturalism, and a forerunner of theatre arts education for underserved young people.
Amas Musical Theatre was the inspiration of a pioneering figure in the American theatre, Rosetta LeNoire (1911-2002), an African-American actress who began her career as a child performer "planted" in audiences by her godfather, the legendary Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Rosetta founded Amas (Latin for "you love"), a non-profit performing arts organization, to combat racism, proclaiming "We are all flowers in God's glorious bouquet, every one of us, every color!"
From the beginning, Amas has sought to bring together people of all backgrounds, colors, and ethnic origin through musical theatre, and education programs have always been integral to the mission. Amas became the first voice of multiculturalism in theatre, and America's founding exponent of diversity, long before the term became a corporate mantra. Rosetta insisted on multi-ethnic casting in every show she produced and, in a few seasons, Amas emerged as an influential new force in the theatre, especially after she conceived the groundbreaking Bubbling Brown Sugar in 1973, which became a Broadway and touring sensation.
In 1999, President Clinton awarded the National Medal of Arts to Rosetta as "an individual deserving of special recognition by reason of her outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States." Actors' Equity Association acknowledges Rosetta and Amas' contribution to the American theatre by annually bestowing the Rosetta LeNoire Award ("The Rosie Award") on producers and theatre companies who exemplify her commitment to multicultural production and casting. Following in Rosie's footsteps, for the past 25 years, artistic producer Donna Trinkoff has continued to engrave the unique Amas trademark with musical theatre works that embrace different cultural perspectives while reaching out to underserved audiences.
Countless dramatists, composers, lyricists, directors, choreographers and actors have graced Amas stages over the past 50 years, including Maya Angelou, Micki Grant, Galt McDermott, Sheldon Epps, John Rando, Tom O'Horgan, Ossie Davis, Billie Allen, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Andre deShields, Leslie Uggams, Phylicia Rashad, Brad Oscar and Christopher Jackson. The contributions of these alumni, as well as the dedication of the talented roster of early career artists, speaks to the unique and important work of Amas - a laboratory for artists who share its vision of cultural equity and tell timeless stories that resonate deeply.
"We are enormously proud of our rich legacy" says Donna Trinkoff, Artistic Producer. "For a non-profit company in New York City to continue its mission for 50 years is a miracle in itself. We will continue to honor Rosie's vision and look to the next 50 years."
Photo Credit: Ben Hider
Christopher Jackson and Ensemble
Students of the Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theater Academy
Elijah Ahmad Lewis and Ensemble
Lance Roberts and Ensemble
Angel Orensanz Foundation
Angel Orensanz Foundation