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Founder Rosie O’Donnell, Founding Artistic and Executive Director Lori Klinger announce that Rosie’s Theater Kids will honor attorney Jay Cohen, and actor, director and writer BD Wongat this year’s Passing It On Gala, an evening of performances celebrating 20 years of mentorship. The gala will be directed by Artistic Director Lisa Danserand will take place Monday, April 17, 2023 beginning at 6:30 pm with a performance and honoree presentation at The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College (68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues) followed by a dinner hosted by Judy Gold (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and a performance by Orfeh (Legally Blonde.)
Rosie’s Theater Kids will be joined by this year’s mentors who include Ehizoje Azeke (In The Heights film), Lauren Chapman (Senior teaching artist, content developer, trainer for Disney Theatrical,) and Chesney Snow (In Transit).
Founding Artistic and Executive Director Lori Klinger says of this year’s gala, “We began 20 years ago with 40 students performing “Magic to Do” at the Plymouth Theatre. This year, after introducing over 25,000 NYC public school students to the joy of Musical Theater, we still have “Magic to Do” on this night and I, all the years ahead.”
Jay Cohen, a partner and co-chair of the Litigation Department from 2008 through 2017, is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and corporate counselor, particularly with regard to his comprehensive expertise in media, antitrust, securities, intellectual property and general complex commercial disputes. Clients describe Jay as “the full package: he’s a good, smart, and thorough lawyer who understands and looks at the bigger picture,” and say that he is “very effective in court,” noting his “real touch with both judge and jury.” Jay is one of a select group of nationally recognized trial lawyers in The Legal 500 and has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation as the “General Commercial Attorney of the Year” in 2018 as well as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America. For more than 25 years, Jay has regularly represented major clients of the media and entertainment industry as lead counsel in a range of sophisticated and precedent-setting matters. In addition, Jay’s practice includes advising on high-stakes corporate transactions as well as conducting internal investigations on behalf of public companies and their boards of directors.
Jay is a Lecturer in Law at both the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches trial advocacy and Columbia Law School where he teaches a seminar on law and the music industry.
Jay is the Chairman of the Board of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and a member of the Board of Directors for the Bronx Defenders and is an active participant in the firm’s pro bono practice.
BD Wong won all five New York theater awards, including the Tony, for his performance in M. Butterfly, his Broadway debut. He has since appeared in more than twenty other Broadway, Off-Broadway or regional productions and twenty-five films; the latter most recently includes Bird Box, Jurassic World, Focus, and The Space Between Us. He has been a regular on four television series, including eleven seasons of “Law & Order SVU” as George Huang. Most recently he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance as Whiterose on “Mr. Robot.” He also plays Hugo Strange on Fox’s “Gotham.” He authored the critically acclaimed Harper Entertainment memoir Following Foo. He directed Alice Chan, a play he co-authored with Robert Lee, for the 2016 La Jolla Playhouse Pop Tour where he was also 2015 Artist In Residence. He is on the board of Rosie’s Theater Kids and Actors’ Fund Of America. Past mentors of Rosie’s Theater Kids include Broadway luminaries such as Adrienne Warren, Robert La Fosse, Jessie Mueller, Julio Monge, Jawan Jackson, Nasia Thomas and our founder, Rosie O’Donnell. Passing It On is an event that honors our diverse community unified by a lasting dedication to give back, nurture, and grow our future.
Started in 2010, Passing It On is a vital part of Rosie’s Theater Kids’ artistic programming that identifies the individual talents and unique gifts within each student. Mentors from the professional theater and music community are paired with students so that they may gain insight not only into the richness in each artform, but what they are capable of achieving.
Tickets and sponsorship can be secured at rosiestheaterkids.org/2023gala/, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 914-573-1000.
RTKids was launched in 2003 at PS 51, a Title I public school bordering on the theater district where students would walk by Broadway theaters daily, and never have the opportunity to go inside. Rosie noticed this, and thought it was, “…like living in Hawaii, and never having access to the beach.”
Together with Rosie, Founding Artistic and Executive Director Lori Klinger developed PS Broadway – RTKids foundational program. In 2003, all 40 fifth graders at PS 51 participated in 15 weeks of singing and dancing training, and every single fifth grader went to see their first Broadway show – all free of charge.
Over the years since its debut, RTKids has blossomed into much more than simply a song and dance venue. The dedication and inspiration of its expert staff and generosity of its guest Broadway professionals have yielded truly remarkable results including 100% high school graduation and college placement rates. Today, RTKids’ services have expanded to include ACTE II (A Commitment to Excellence), which includes performing arts instruction, life skills development, academic tutoring, college scholarship funding, and college and financial aid guidance and support at Maravel Arts Center, RTKids home just west of the theater district.
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