One of my favorite events every year at Symphony Space is the Gala, where we dedicate the night to special honorees and Symphony Space supporters. I love the anticipation leading up to the event, the craziness of setting up the space, getting dressed up before the evening, having the opportunity to work with a wonderful team as we all come together in support of the night, and then seeing the honorees and gala attendees flood through the door, anticipating an exciting celebration. Working at a performing arts center is particularly wonderful because you get to actually see the fruits of your labors everyday in the form of great performances. Other people create spreadsheets and budgets in a typical workday. Well … of course we create those too, but we also help create wonderful experiences for patrons. Each time I watch audience members enjoying an event it makes my job worthwhile. The Gala is a perfect example of this.
Co-hosted by Stockard Channing (Pal Joey) and Isaiah Sheffer – who were a wonderful team! – we honored luminaries of Broadway this year: Donna Murphy (Passions, Wonderful Town), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Man of La Mancha, Ragtime, Kiss Me Kate), Lin-Manual Miranda (In the Heights) and Mary Rodgers Guettel, of the Rodgers Family Foundation. Having grown up listening to Broadway show tunes, and having had the great fortune of seeing many of these artists perform, this Gala was particularly memorable.
It is always a joy to see the honorees accepting their awards, but this year we took it a step further with some amazing performances by Donna Murphy and Brian Stokes Mitchell, as well as James Naughton and Kelli O’Hara, two of our presenters. Sheldon Harnick shocked everyone with a surprisingly hip rap as he was presenting Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award, and Lin-Manuel took everyone by surprise with a Fiddler on the Roof inspired rap dedicated to Mr. Harnick! Each performer brought his or her own flair and special talent, and each performance was met with wild applause. I felt like I had a first row seat to the best show on Broadway that night.
Thanks to everyone who attended and made this such a special night! Check out our event photos in The New York Times, photographed by the legendary Bill Cunningham. See you next year at the Symphony Space Gala!