Exuding hope and optimism, 80 students from Mayo Performing Arts Center’s Performing Arts Company (PAC) brought a tear to Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz’s eye.
The students performed “Morning Glow,” from Schwartz’s highly decorated musical Pippin, with star Aaron Tveit at the Dramatists Guild Fund Benefit Gala as its closing performance. The company was given standing ovation by famed Broadway composers such as Schwartz, Stephen Sondheim, lyricists, performers and playwrights alike that filled the audience.
The Benefit Gala, aptly themed “Writers Thank Their Lucky Stars: The Presidential Edition” was held in Gotham Hall in New York, NY. The evening featured additional performances by Mandy Gonzalez, Raúl Esparza, Patrick Page and more as they honored legendary writers and their contributions to American theater.
Company member Julianna Belles, a junior at Morris County School of Technology, had this to say about the performance: “Being up close and personal with an artist who possesses so much talent, such as Aaron Tveit was completely overwhelming and I feel as though I was able to learn a lot about how a professional performs through just watching him prepare and engage the crowd. I'm just so incredibly honored that the Mayo Performing Arts Center and the Dramatist Guild were able to come together to give our group this once in a lifetime chance to perform for so many artists that we look up to and admire.”
MPAC’s PAC is a youth performing troupe that provides entertainment at community events, hospitals, nonprofit fundraisers, and local/regional festivals. It is comprised of students, ages 13-21, each a talented singer, dancer and actor, who has successfully auditioned. Led by Education Director Cathy Roy, the PAC gives 30-40 performances each year at locations throughout New Jersey, many of whom would not be able to access live performances due to financial restraints, immobility or health restrictions. The program teaches troupe members the value of community service and volunteerism as they perform for audiences including the sick at hospitals and the elderly at senior centers. Members of the PAC participate free of charge, and their performances are provided free of charge to host venues. Last season, the PAC performed at over three dozen events locally.
Randolph High School senior and PAC member Christian Harvey was in awe himself. “Being onstage just felt so natural. It was so amazing to hear the last chord echo in Gotham Hall.” Harvey also expressed great gratitude for MPAC and Roy for giving the students the opportunity to perform. “They have worked so hard, and really validated why I am in the arts. I love inspiring people, and giving them hope.”
“Our well deserved performers work so hard throughout the year and give up so much of their free time performing for hospitals, nursing homes, fundraisers and community events. They are taught to put their heart and soul into every performance and they definitely make us proud doing so! It makes it even more rewarding to see all of that commitment, dedication and passion pay off as they are singled out and chosen for such a high profile event! I’m confident that they will only be inspired to give back even more!” Roy said.
The Dramatists Guild Fund, a 501(c)3 organization, is the public charity arm of the Dramatists Guild of America. Its mission is to aid and nurture writers for the theater; to fund non-profit theaters producing contemporary American works; and to heighten awareness, appreciation, and support of theater across the country. Based in New York, the Dramatists Guild of America has a long history of service to playwrights, lyricists, librettists and composers for the theater. Since its inception, the Dramatists Guild membership has included a broad cross-section of writers for the American stage, including legendary talents whose names are synonymous with Broadway, Off-Broadway and American Theater. To learn more about the Guild or to become a member, visit www.dramatistsguild.com.