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The 2017 Minty Dinner Gala Honorees

During the week of November 28, 2016, the following individuals and organizations were announced as the Honorees for our 2017 Minty Awards Dinner Gala. The 2017 Minty Awards Dinner Gala was held Thursday, January 12 at 7pm at Nicotra's Ballroom.

The 2017 Minty Awards Dinner Gala was co-sponsored by the Hilton Garden Inn.

We congratulate our 2017 Honorees!

Thank you and #MeetMeAtTheMintyGala!

Fr. Renato Piazza

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

While only on the faculty at  Msgr. Farrell High School for eight years, the legacy and impact the Rev. Renato Piazza had on his students continues to this day. “He was my introduction to musicals,” said Charles Sullivan, a Farrell alum and student of Fr. Piazza’s. “More than anything else, he was truly a decent man, and certainly his patience and sweet nature was an example for so many others who wound up working with high school students involved in the theatre.”

Music was always a part of Fr. Piazza’s life, as he sang semi-professionally at the Amato Opera House in Manhattan before entering the seminary. While at St. Joseph’s Seminary, he served as choir director and received his master’s degree in music from Columbia University, and was enrolled in a doctoral music program at the time of his death.

At Msgr. Farrell, he was the music director and conductor for several musicals in the early days of the Farrell Players, including “Fiorello!,” “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Wonderful Town,” and “Anything Goes.” In addition, for many years he served as director for the Farrell-Sea Glee Club. He also served as musical director at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School, and choir director at St. Patrick’s Church.

In July 1974, at the age of 41, he died suddenly of a heart attack while re-roofing his brother’s house.

His legacy continues to live on through his former students, who after all these years still remember him fondly and credit him for enriching their lives with the performing arts. “He was a great mentor to an entire generation of Island performers and directors,” said Farrell alum, and later director of the Farrell
Players, John Gatti.  In addition, Renato Productions, a community theatre group on Staten Island in the 1970s, was founded in Fr. Piazza’s honor by Farrell alum Jack Niesi. As with our previous Educator of the Arts honorees, Fr. Piazza was an integral part in the early years of high school theater on Staten Island, impacting countless numbers of students and enriching their lives with the performing arts.

Pamela "P.J." Nelson

Distinguished Alumni Award

A daughter of St. Peter's Girls High School, Pam was plucked by the legendary impresario Carl William Lesch in 1968 to star as Annie Oakley in St. Peter's Boys "Annie Get Your Gun." The young sophomore had a set of pipes where she could have gone toe to toe with Ms. Merman herself. The following year she played Bloody Mary in "South Pacific," and closed out her senior year as Mrs. Higgins in "My Fair Lady." Graduating in 1970, she was asked back the following spring to take on the ultimate title role, Dolly Levi in St. Peter's "Hello, Dolly!", a show still talked about as one of the all-time greats on Staten Island.

From there, she began her professional career, appearing alongside some of the biggest names in show business. Never leaving Dolly behind, she appeared as Ernestina in 1978's "Hello, Dolly!", starring Carol Channing. Two years later she shared the stage with Dick Van Dyke in "The Music Man" at City Center. She continues to perform around New York, most recently at Don't Tell Mama's. Through it all, Pam has never forgotten her Staten Island roots, appearing in numerous alumni shows and benefit cabarets to
help support her home borough.

Lois & Richard Nicotra

Community Enrichment Award

Since The Minty’s inception, Richard & Lois Nicotra have been steadfast supporters of The Minty Awards and The Minty Organization. Through their foundation, we have been able to expand our educational program offerings and ensure that all our schools receive donations at The Minty Awards. We have been lucky to call Nicotra’s Ballroom home to The Minty Awards Dinner Gala over the past four years, due in part to their generous spirit and sponsorships. Beyond The Minty’s, the Nicotras have supported countless performing arts organizations, too numerous to name, and are a major reason the arts are alive and well on Staten Island.


When we think of Staten Islanders dedicated to supporting their community, we cannot think of two more deserving individuals than Richard & Lois Nicotra. We are honored to present them with our Community Enrichment Award at this year’s Minty Awards Dinner Gala.

The St. George Theatre

Community Enrichment Award

Since 2012, the St. George Theatre has been our exclusive home for The Minty Awards. From our first moments in the historic theatre, we were treated like family, and we have looked forward each year to returning to the stage and working alongside their wonderful and professional staff. The St. George Theatre gives our students the chance of a lifetime – to perform on the same stage as music icons, comedic legends, and stars of the silver screen. There is simply no other place on Staten Island as majestic as the St. George, the true crown jewel of the Island. No where else on Staten Island can all our high school students come together and perform for a crowd of over 1,100, the remarkable turnout at our last ceremony.


Beyond the Minty’s and the Theatre’s regular concert offerings, the St. George is committed to serving the Staten Island community through various community outreach and educational programs. Whether they are teaching theatre and dance to children from socially or economically challenged homes, or delivering live educational performances to thousands of Island students, from grade school through high school, the St. George Theatre enriches the lives of its community every day.


We thank the St. George Theatre, especially its founders, Doreen Cugno, Luanne Sorrentino, and, of course, the late “Mrs. Rosemary,” both for providing an opportunity for our students to perform on the grandest of stages and for keeping the arts alive in our schools and community.

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