Amas Musical Theatre Honors Harry Belafonte, Shelly Berger and More at Annual 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 will celebrate 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 is Academy Award-Winning actress and activist Whoopi Goldberg. Tony Award-winner Lillias White will be Mistress of Ceremonies 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 Sugarin 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."
The gala evening will begin at 6:00pm with a champagne reception and silent auction. At 7:00pmthere is a sit down dinner and at 8:00pm the show begins when the students of the Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theatre Academy, Amas' flagship education program, will present a sneak peek of their upcoming spring production of Pippin, followed by a musical tribute to Rosie Award Honorees - legendary actor/singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, Shelly Berger, pioneering music manager, including 42 years guiding The Temptations; Sharleen Cooper Cohen, author, playwright and longtime Amas Board Member, and Donna Trinkoff, Amas' Artistic Producer in recognition of her 25 years at the helm of the organization. The show, Amas @50, will be directed by Jonathan Cerullo, with music direction by Henry Aronson, and special material written by Stuart Ross, featuring award-winning performances by Len Cariou, Christopher Jackson, N'Kenge, Vivian Reed, Leslie Uggams, among other Broadway talent. A scholarship in the name of Amas founder Rosetta LeNoire will also be given to a college-bound student attending the Amas Teen Academy.
"The Rosie Award is given every year to outstanding individuals who are leaders in their fields. Our Honorees exemplify the spirit of Rosetta LeNoire, not only because of their extraordinary accomplishments and dedication in bringing our world more closely together, but because they help show the way to others who would follow. We are very proud to be honoring Harry Belafonte, Shelly Berger, and Sharleen Cooper Cohen", says Donna Trinkoff, Amas Artistic Producer.
Tickets are $700 and $450 plus a limited number of show-only $175 seats are available and can be purchased online at www.amasmusical.org, or by calling (212) 563-2565. More information at www.amasmusical.org.
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos