The 2016 Minty Dinner Gala Honorees

 

On November 30, 2015, the following individuals and organizations were announced as the Honorees for our 2016 Minty Awards Dinner Gala. All of our Honorees have contributed tremendously and have left a lasting impact on the high school theater community on Staten Island.

 

We congratulate our 2016 Honorees!

 

 

Marian Sparago

The Carl W. Lesch Memorial Award for Educator of the Arts

A daughter of St. John Villa, Marian Sparago ignited a passion for the arts at her alma mater. For over two decades, she served as director, musical director, and choir director at St. John Villa, while also teaching Music Appreciation and American Musical Theatre in the high school.

 

She mounted numerous and lavished Broadway musicals on the Villa stage, including CAROUSEL, THE BOYFRIEND, GOOD NEWS, BYE BYE BIRDIE, NO NO NANETTE, ON YOUR TOES and HELLO, DOLLY! which was the first show produced in the school’s then-new auditorium. In addition to musicals, she also produced annual Christmas shows, which featured secular holiday songs in act one, and a live Nativity with the reading of “One Solitary Life” in act two, a tradition the school continues to this day.

 

“Marian’s love of theatre and music showed in all she directed and each and every student was greater for it,” said long-time Villa choreographer Loretta O’Hara, who was honored with the CWL Memorial Award in 2015. “She was enthusiastic, expressive, creative and always respectful of her cast and crew. She truly brought out the best in everyone.”

 

In a connection to the award’s namesake, Carl W. Lesch, the Founding Father of High School Theatre, Sparago was introduced to the organ through Lesch as an 8th grade student at the former St. Margaret Mary’s School. After Lesch’s sudden passing in 1983, Sparago was asked by Fr. Kelly to help with the musical theatre program at Moore Catholic High School, where she served as Producer of the school’s musical, while also directing the school’s choir.

 

“None of this could have been possible if it hadn’t been for my friends and colleagues who helped to create magic on stage,” said Sparago, referring to her choreographer Loretta O’Hara and accompanist Glenn Kaiser. “I sincerely hope that somehow I made a difference and enriched the quality of life with my former students and their families. I treasure the moments we shared and that special bond that only music can give.”

 

Alumni of Mrs. Sparago’s shows are encouraged to email gala@mintys.org to send in memories, photos, or participate in a special tribute at the Gala.

Betsy Joslyn

The Distinguished Alumni Award

Betsy Joslyn a graduate of St. Joseph Hill and Wagner College has had a long and successful career on the Broadway stage. After graduating Wagner, she appeared in numerous, blockbuster Broadway musicals of the day including SWEENEY TODD (Johanna), INTO THE WOODS (The Witch), LES MISERABLES (Mme. Thenardier), SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, and HIGH SOCIETY. She also appeared in the national tours of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Mrs. Potts), CITY OF ANGELS, and off-Broadway as Luisa in THE FANTASTICKS.

 

“Betsy’s career really includes the best of Broadway in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Pinto. “And for many of these kids who have been in the same shows, same parts as she has, but on their high school stages, it really speaks to them to say ‘Someone who walked the same halls, sang on the same stages, achieved great success.’ It gives them the hope and push they need to continue to work toward their dreams.”

Rosemarie Callahan, Staten Island Children's Theatre

The Community Enrichment Award

The Staten Island Children’s Theatre Association, or SICTA, is a self-sustaining program sponsored by the Staten Island Mental Health Society whose mission is to promote positive mental health through the arts.  They are currently celebrating their 52nd Season of bringing live theater to children and families.

 

In 1985 Rosemarie Callahan began working at SICTA as a Theatre Instructor and became the Artistic Director and Program Coordinating in 1995. Under her direction, the theater has produced over 100 productions and workshops for children ages five through eighteen. Hundreds of children have gone through SICTA’s doors, many going on to successful careers in the performing arts.

 

“Over the past 31 years, Roe has provided a home away from home with SICTA. Her students take away so much more than the skills of acting, singing and dancing,” stated Jessica L. Caracciolo, Minty Organization board member and SICTA alumna. “Through her guidance and direction, Roe ensures that every child comes out of each rehearsal feeling special and talented, exemplifying what it means to be part of community theatre.”

Sen. Andrew J. Lanza

The Community Enrichment Award

Throughout his service in public life, Sen. Andrew J. Lanza has shown great commitment to the arts and especially our high school students. A constant supporter of The Minty’s since day one, this year Sen. Lanza helped secure a grant through the NY State Education Department that has allowed The Minty Organization to expand its educational program offerings, including the additions of free master classes and audition workshops. “More than ever, our students are taking part and taking advantage of our free programs,” said Pinto.  “They are learning and fine-tuning their craft in ways never before, due to the faculty we have been able to bring in, thanks to Sen. Lanza’s help in securing this grant. As a supporter of us since the beginning, we are very fortunate for that support and privileged to honor him. His work for this grant has set the groundwork for us to expand our offerings and include more free programs all year round.”

"West Side Story" Msgr. Farrell, 1983

Outstanding Show Award

It was the show that transformed high school theatre on Staten Island, the first full-length production of WEST SIDE STORY on Staten Island. And upon its debut on the Msgr. Farrell stage in March 1983, it broke records. Opening night featured over 1000 families and friends clamoring for seats in the school’s Oakwood auditorium. Demand was so high for the show that a special Monday night performance (which too, sold out) was added to accommodate the requests.

 

The show was the Farrell Players directorial debut for John Gatti, and working along side him was Jeff Dailey as Musical Director, Rob Marra and Jim Fontaine as choreographers, and Elizabeth Wheeler as assistant director. The production starred Gina Biancardi (Maria), John Telenko (Tony), Alice Knisley (Anita), Peter Gabos (Riff) and Frank de Santis (Bernardo). The ensemble and supporting players was rounded out with a cast of 40 (from 120 who auditioned) and featured a full 24 piece orchestra.

 

“The kids were understandably nervous but did a spectacular job with difficult material,” Gatti said reflecting back. “It remains to this day an outstanding memory. Over 1000 people were in the Farrell gym [on Opening Night], easily one of the most thrilling nights for me in 40 years of directing on the Island.”

Msgr. Joseph C. Ansaldi

The Spirit of St. Genesius Award, posthumous

The late chaplain of The Minty Organization, Msgr. Joseph C. Ansaldi will be posthumously honored with a special award, The Spirit of St. Genesius Award. Msgr. Ansaldi, long-time principal of St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School was also heavily involved in chaplain duties at St. Peter’s Boys High School, St. Joseph Hill Academy and Msgr. Farrell High School. He delighted in taking part in The Minty Awards Ceremony each year, marveling at the talent the students exhibited on the stage. “Msgr. Ansaldi felt that young people should have the opportunity to use the gifts God gave them, whether it was in the classroom or on the stage,” said Minty Organization board member Joseph Caramanno.

 

All proceeds from The Minty Awards Dinner Gala will go to fund the Minty Organization’s educational programs, which include Audition Workshops, Master Classes and The Minty Awards Ceremony.

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