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Friday, December 1, 2023

Soul queen Dionne Warwick dazzles sold-out crowd


STATEN ISLAND, New York — St. George’s Theater hosted a 20th anniversary gala and benefit concert starring legendary musical artist Dionne Warwick on Friday night, with patrons of the arts and culture dressed in their finest The red carpet took to the stage.

There was no shortage of moments of glitz and glamor at this extravagant event, celebrating the beauty of one of Staten Island’s rarest crown jewels.

From left, Dana Walker-Boyd; George Theater Board of Trustees, community leader Bobby Digi and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. (State Island Advance/Carol Ann Benanti)

The annual event translates into a major fundraiser for the St. George Theater Restoration Company, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring the historic venue that was once home to vaudeville performers and the Staten Island community. pillars.

evening agenda

The party was full of fun and fantasy, featuring a pre-show cocktail reception; an awards ceremony; a concert starring soul queen and six-time Grammy-winning music legend Warwick; After-party at VG Lounge, Lobby and Mezzanine Lobby with open bar, hors d’oeuvres and music from over 30 local restaurants.

From left, Advance Local CEO Caroline Diamond Harrison with husband Timothy Harrison and friends at the gala. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

Prior to the concert, the St. George Theater presented its own “Georgie Award” to Sanjay Bharadwaj, President and CEO of Cube Construction Services LLC, and Jeff Greene, Chairman and Founder of EverGreene Architectural Arts, for their monumental interior restoration Work and continue to support St. George’s Theatre.

Doreen Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino, with winners Sanjay Bharadwaj (right) and Jeff Greene. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

Quote from ST.co-founder and winner of the george theater

Co-founder Luanne Sorrentino acknowledged the presence of a large number of Staten Island elected officials, as well as board and committee members, who she asked “please stand and take a bow.” She will then express her sincerest thanks to all those who make St. George’s Theater such a huge success every day.

Doreen Cugno and Luanne Sorrentino hosted the ceremony. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

“It was exciting and surreal when I looked around and saw the majestic transformation and how this beautiful theater shone,” she said. “Proud to embark on 20 years. This major fundraising effort allows us to continue our impactful education programs and recovery work.”

Co-founder Doreen Sorrentino echoed her sister’s words: “Tonight is an affirmation of the importance of arts and culture in our community as we honor our 1,500 guests and more than 100 generous sponsors. It was a great pleasure to attend,” she said. “We are so excited to celebrate our achievement in grand fashion with the iconic Dionne Warwick and our amazing awardees.”

From left, Luanne Sorrentino and Doreen Cugno with winners Jeff Greene and Sanjay Bharadwaj. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

She went on to explain, “Twenty years ago, there were no lights in the empty shells of theaters. Our moms said, ‘Someone has to do it. “We are delighted to thank our staff and Board of Directors and the partnerships we have built. Tonight is a celebration of theater and the arts and two people, Sanjay Bharadwaj and Jeff Greene, and a round of applause for our sponsors.”

Referring to St. George’s Theatre, Bharadwaj noted: “The restoration was significant and I was able to reproduce the vestibule in 2020. The frescoes were damaged. The formwork on the ceiling was the most difficult. Other than Jeff, who were considered for this An honor indeed is an honor. Thank you all for your contributions to this great cause. We look forward to many more in the years to come.”

The recipient, Sanjay Bharadwaj, third from right with his family. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

Greene explained that he began his career in architecture in 1978. “In 1987, I restored a theater in DC that Dionne Warwick opened. The St. George’s Theater is one of the last true movie palaces left in New York City. They brought it back. I’m proud of our team and all Honored and grateful to those who put their heart and soul into it. Thank you very much.”

Community leader Bobby Digi and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. (State Island Advance/Carol Ann Benanti)

Green, who traveled from his home in Terracina, Italy, to be recognized at the anniversary celebrations, explained how awesome it is to be part of the Staten Island world.

“Tonight was like being in a living room on Staten Island,” he said. “Everyone here tonight has one thing in common – and something in common – and everyone has an experience to share. Really great!”

video demo

Before Warwick’s performance, an on-screen video presentation played to an audience of more than 1,500 people filled the opulent theater with rococo gilded interiors and oversized Spanish frescoes – each lovingly restored.

The video opens with a candid recommendation from Staten Island’s elected officials, who praise the theater’s co-founders for restoring and renovating the opulent movie palace to its original grandeur.

Brian J. Laline, Executive Editor of Advance/SILive.com and Chair of the St. George’s Theater Board of Directors, and Fred Cerullo, Board Member, Chairman and CEO of Grand Central Partnership, commented:

.Fred Cerullo, center, right, St. George Theater Board Member and CEO and President of Grand Central Partnership, with family. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

“Welcome to the 93rd Annual 20th Anniversary Gala at the St. (Doreen Cugno) founded non-profit organization,” Larin said. “We are proud of the programming that our theater offers. The summer outreach program is just one example… St. George’s Theater enriches the lives of thousands of people. Every year, St. George’s Theater hosts free programming for young people ages 9 to 18, Designed to enhance their personal achievement and fitness.”

Former Staten Island Borough President Jame Molinaro (left), Borough President Vito Fossella and Ed Burke, senior adviser to Joan Cusack. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

“Ms. Rosemary gave away her life savings to the theater,” Cerullo added. “With funding from the city, state and federal governments, the theater doors are finally opening.”

From left, Philip Guarnieri, Doreen Cugno and Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

iconic dion warwick

Taking to the stage to loud cheers and applause, Warwick opened with “Welcome to Minecraft,” followed by “Walk Around,” “Anyone With Heart,” “You’ll Never Get There,” and more Hit songs Heaven, If You Break My Heart,” “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” syncopated “This Guy’s in Love with You” and “What the World Needs Now,” among other crowd-pleasers. With a big smile on her face, she encouraged the audience to sing along as they saw fit.

In the prelude to “Say a Little Prayer,” she says this touchingly:

Dionne Warwick performs in concert at the 20th Gala Gala at St. George’s Theatre. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

“This song is in my heart,” said the popular soul singer. “It’s supposed to come out in the 21st century. It’s a duet with a partner who isn’t there tonight. So, I’ll sing the song tonight.”

Warwick also captivated audiences with “Alfie,” one of her signature tunes, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1966 for the film of the same name, and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” — ​​一The first song to showcase the trio’s musical prowess on their own.

Dionne Warwick performs in concert at the 20th Annual Gala at St. George’s Theatre. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

“It was a pleasure to share the stage with three of my musicians tonight,” Warwick gushed before introducing: “Drummer Jeffrey Lewis from Los Angeles, bass guitarist Dennis Denny from Las Vegas. Morales and I are pianist Todd Hunter from San Diego.”

Referring to “I’ll Never Love Like This Again,” Warwick said from his heart: “I fell in love with this song. And everyone in this room has the same ability. In difficult times, We can find ways to alleviate our troubles. Music has incredible healing power.”

Culinary students from Port Richmond High School and Tottenville High School helped throw the after party. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

More about Warwick

Warwick is a six-time Grammy Award-winning music legend who has won more than 75 hits and sold more than 100 million records. She was discovered by Bacharach and David in 1961 and went on to record 18 consecutive top 100 hits (“Don’t Make Me Over”, “Walk on By”, “Say a Little Prayer”, “A House is Not a Home”, “Alfie”, “Heartbreaker”, “Déjà Vu”, etc.). ” won her first Grammy Award.

Dionne Warwick performs in concert at the 20th Annual Gala at St. George’s Theatre. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

She has been honored at AMFAR, Desert Aid Project and Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party. Warwick was also inducted into the Grammy Museum, where a special 50th-anniversary career exhibit was unveiled. Warwick also received the coveted and prestigious 2017 Marian Anderson Award for professional achievement and philanthropy.

Most recently, Warwick released a star-studded duet album titled “Feels So Good,” featuring collaborations with some of the greatest artists working today.

From left, Ed Burke, senior adviser to borough president Vito Focella, with Kim and John Bilotti. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

She was honored in the 2018 PBS TV special “Then Came You”; was named the 2019 Smithsonian Institution’s Ambassador for the Year in Music, and is the 2019 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Chris Lacey and Susan Anderson after party. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

About St.George Theater Restoration Company

St. George Theater Restoration Inc., founded in 2004 by the late Rosemary Cappozalo and her daughters Luanne Sorrentino and Doreen Cugno, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring historic theaters and their legacy as cultural venues Develop performing arts centers on Staten Island and throughout New York City, offering community outreach programs, educational programs, and public performances. This year marks their 20th anniversary.

St. George Theater board members with singer Dionne Warwick, center, on stage. (Steve White for the Staten Island Advance)

The St. George’s Theatre, known as the Roaring 20s-built house, first opened nearly 94 years ago on December 4, 1929, for screenings of Robert Montgomery’s film, This Is University, and husband-and-wife team Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields, legendary performer Al Jolson and boxer Jack Dempsey headline live vaudeville.

Since the theater reopened in 2004, the St. George’s Theater has hosted hundreds of well-known actors such as Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Paul Anka, Ringo Starr, Chicago, Pete Davidson, Lisa Minnelli, The Jonas Brothers, Jerry Seinfeld, Joan Rivers, Patti LaBelle, O’Jays, The Doobie Brothers, Jackson Browne, Donny Osmond, Chaka Khan, Peter Frampton and many more.


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