Les Miserables: The Gift Of A Great Production
(The Tablet, October 5, 2013)
The Josephine Foundation Mourns A Great Loss
On Wednesday August 14, 2013 a fine priest and a man who was the reason many fell in love with the performing arts in the greater NYC Area, Msgr. Joseph Funaro, passed away after a lengthy illness. As many may remember, Father Joe was The Foundation's Chairman's Honoree at our 2009 Follow Your Dreams Gala. A priest for 48 years, he served the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church as a director for Catholic Charities, the Founder and Director of the Diocesan Theater Guild and Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Roman Catholic Church.
As Founder and Director of the Diocesan Theater Guild, which he created in 1977, Father Joe provided opportunities for performers of all ages, nationalities, genders, religions and financial backgrounds in the arts, while providing affordable professional class theater productions for the elderly and the people of the greater NYC area, all while raising thousands of dollars for the Catholic Charities Services. He was an inspiration for the work of The Josephine Foundation.
Rev. Msgr. Funaro was ordained to the Priesthood on May 29, 1965. He was a member of the Priests' Purgatorial Society. He will be remembered as a stern man who believed in discipline and organization, a compassionate and caring priest and most of all...as a giant of a man, who will be greatly missed.
Les Miserables - A Phenomenal Success!
"Wow! Wow! Wow! I was dazzled -- and I don't say this lightly -- it was in some ways even better than the performance I saw on Broadway!! Just outstanding. This should be taken on the road-- and seen by others! Thank you Andrew J. Koslosky."
- Barry Strutt, Musician/Composer
“Saw Les Miz tonight, amazing job to the entire cast and crew.”
- Ryan James Girdusky, Columnist
"Dear Mr. Koslosky, We are Briarwood Action Network, a Community Organization dedicated to the well being of our Community, safety, sanitation, beautification, education and more. We have formed a relationship with the Friends of Maple Grove and due to the kindness of Mr. Carl Ballenas, ten members of our community were enabled to see the marvelous production of Les Mis. We were thrilled, blown away, moved to tears and joy. On behalf of our group, I thank you for your brilliant work, and inspiration to care and work for our communities. We will spread the word about the incredible Josephine Foundation and hope to be able to part of the audience at your future productions. We wish you all the best in your endeavors."
- Sylvia Sherman, Vice President, Briarwood Action Network
"The great Italian opera composer, Giuseppe Verdi, considered turning Victor Hugo's LES MISERABLES into an opera, but never faced the challenge. For decades it was thought to be an impossibility, and then a French team succeeded in bringing the story to the musical theatre. Even though I have reservations about the modern musical version, I have been enjoying the show since its first run on Broadway. I look at it as a flawed masterpiece, and it's great length is part of the problem.
"Since LES MISERABLES is actually a modern opera, it makes it rather difficult to cast. However, I was very impressed with the caliber of the vocal performances that I heard on Friday evening. Most of the principals possessed excellent voices that were able to meet the demands of the score. Much of the acting was highly professional. I found myself yelling 'bravo' three or four times during the evening.
"Although I know the libretto very well, I had some difficulty understanding many of the words that were being sung. Perhaps this is an acoustical concern and not the fault of the performers. I really miss not getting every word.
"For me, the glorious ensemble numbers were the highpoint of the evening. I could have used an encore or two. It was better than being at the Metropolitan Opera. The musicians were absolutely superb, and it was hard to believe that so few could provide such a full and exquisite accompaniment. The cast performed with great gusto and musical prowess, and the effect was stunning. I loved the choreography. It was musical and cleanly executed. I did not feel a need for a great deal of scenery because this piece can be very effective in concert, but the appearance of the barricade was a terrific surprise.
"The bottom line is that this degree of quality is not easily found in community theatre. The amount of work that went into this production was obvious and much appreciated by the enthusiastic audience. I hope this is only a beginning of theatre in Douglaston."
- Tom Newby/Opera News, Queens Chronicle
“Presented by JABEN, USA Inc. and SuperNova Productions, “Les Miz” is being performed in the borough for the first time.
"By now, the story, based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo, is generally well known, particularly since the release of the recent film version with Hugh Jackman. For fullest appreciation, familiarity with this intricate tale is recommended prior to viewing.
"The sprawling plot involves a dozen major characters involved in love, war, and, in the case of its protagonist, a French peasant named Jean Valjean, the quest for redemption following 19 years of imprisonment.
"The production is one of the finest to be seen in this area in recent and not-so-recent memory. Under the direction of Kevin Wallace, the show is a standout in nearly every respect, with only a few innocuous quibbles on its unusually smooth opening night.
"With virtually no spoken dialogue, the show rests to a large extent on the caliber of its musical talent. Musical director Patrick White has elicited a full sound from an ensemble of five musicians, as well as magnificent solos and harmonies from the cast of nearly 50. Each vocalist is to be commended on exceptional enunciation. Ray Nacarri provided the original orchestrations.
"From start to finish, the hall is enveloped in the lush melodies and often stirring lyrics of the show’s creators, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg.
"As Valjean, Andrew Koslosky raises his glorious tenor throughout. His musical monologue, “Who Am I?,” through which Valjean expresses his dilemma, “If I speak, I am condemned, If I stay silent, I am damned!,” is powerful. The famous “Bring Him Home,” wherein he prays for the well-being of a young man about to go to battle, is tender. And his musical confrontation with Valjean’s antagonist, Javert, proves a dramatically strong duet.
"As a youthful Javert, Malcolm Spaulding nearly stopped the show with his rich rendition of “Stars,” vowing to recapture the fugitive Valjean.
"Juan Luis Sanchez as Marius, the idealistic student who goes off to war, provides another strong male voice. He is particularly fine in “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” in which he laments the loss of his comrades in battle.
"Comic relief is provided by Don Gormanly and Monica Barczak as innkeeper-turned-gang leader Thenardier and his wife, whose coiffure calls to mind another evil character, Mrs. Lovett, of “Sweeney Todd” fame.
"Their rollicking musical moment, “Master of the House,” performed with an increasingly inebriated ensemble, is filled with detailed bits of clever stage business timed to perfection. But the number never quite achieves the level of debauchery that is expected.
"As the Thenardiers’ daughter, Eponine, Shannon Connolly delivers a heartfelt “On My Own” and a touching “A Little Fall of Rain,” while her sister, Joanna Connolly makes a sympathetic Cosette. Mariel Pacific as Cosette’s mother Fantine displays a fine singing voice in one of the show’s most celebrated songs, “I Dreamed a Dream.”
"Other strong performances come from Dan Stravino as Enjolras, who prepares the idealistic students for the revolution; 11-year-old Karina Ordonez as Young Cosette, looking shockingly like the waif on the show’s famed logo; and, in leading ensemble roles, David Arzberger, Richard Masin, and John Rodriguez.
"The mobile set and appropriate costumes added to the show’s professional look. Delayed sound cues and a couple of missed lighting cues did little to hamper the overall effectiveness of the production.
"The story spans decades and several characters age throughout the proceedings, either via double casting or makeup. Others, however, look as young and attractive at the end as they did at the outset, a detail that should perhaps be examined.”
- Mark Lord © Copyright 2013, Queens Chronicle, Rego Park, NY
"The Ensemble and Lead voices were amazing and full of spirit. An absolute must see for Les Miserables lovers...and for those who love musical theater. It is as good as it gets in theater."
- Rich Grebinger
"Les MIserables came to Douglaston, New York in spectacular form. JABEN USA, and SuperNova Productions had a big winner in its summer production of the world’s most loved musical. Performed in the most comfortable of settings at the Immaculate Conception Center Theater, the audience was treated to a performance of Broadway magnitude. Costuming, lighting and sound enhancements were excellent and well designed. The stage crew was professional, and very efficient in making changes go smoothly. The set was fabulous and came with a moment of great drama as the barricade was introduced in Act Two. A truly magnificent sight for the audience as this large piece moved down stage under special lighting with Enjolras seeming leading the way.
"Overall, the talent was amazing and the singing voices were magnificent.
"Andrew Joseph Koslosky as Valjean was powerful and commanded the stage. His standout tenor singing voice led this parade of outstanding performances. His rendition of the classic “Bring Him Home” was a high point and dramatic moment.
"Malcolm Spaulding as Javert, was strong and brought great emotion to his character while bringing the house down with his rendition of “Stars”.
"Don Gormanly and Monica Barczak were fabulous as Thenadier and Wife providing comic relief and wonderful timing.
"The wonderful voices of Dan Stravino as Enjolras, Mariel Pacific as Fantine, Juan Luis Sanchez as Marius, Joanna Connolly as Cosette and Shannon Connolly as Eponine also brought great passion and depth to their roles.
"Ensemble players David Arzberger, Richard Masin, John Rodriguez, and Rachelle Connolly lead an ensemble cast full of wonderful singing, full of emotions and energy.
"The cast in general was fully committed and was supported by a wonderful musical ensemble led by Music Director Pat White and Orchestrator Ray Naccari, which played arrangements that were lush, full, and worthy of such outstanding voices.
"Kudos to Director Kevin Wallace who’s staging of the musical was full of original ideas which kept the show moving and without a drag.
"This Production is simply the best of the summer and it’s a shame it was done on a limited schedule."
- George Zhao, Life and Times Arts Review
Honoring our Nation's Heroes with Music & Song
Faceoff Productions is proud to release "Waiting for the Day", a new music video scored by Foundation Board Member Barry Strutt. A touching and warm video set to a rich, soulful, smooth jazz tune, it tells the heartfelt story of a woman yearning for her hero to return from his service to our country. Featuring the singing talents of Carolyn Leonhart, the video was produced and directed by Board Member Helen LaLousis and includes the vocal and musical talents of Foundation Members and Friends Clyde Bullard, Dakota Macleod and Ray Naccari. Enjoy it here on YouTube.
The Josephine Foundation Partners With St. Mary's High School
St. Mary's Theater Program Gets Boost
The NY-based non-profit organization The Josephine Foundation announced Monday that it would be partnering with St. Mary’s High School starting this fall to help build the school’s new performing arts program.
According to a Josephine Foundation press release, the program will teach students “professional standards” in the areas of theater, music and dance, and students will work with professional singers, actors, directors and choreographers in preparation for careers in the performing arts world.
“The St. Mary’s High School opportunity is unique in that its student body features teens from all areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island,” said Andrew Koslosky, the foundation’s founder and chairman.
Koslosky, who has performed in and directed theater productions for more than 30 years, said he expects the diversity of the St. Mary’s student body to contribute to the variety of skills the program’s participants will learn, “making them better prepared to handle all kinds of situations in the arts world during their continued studies and auditions.”
Grace Cavallo, the president of the Schools of St. Mary, said in a statement that she is excited for the program to enter the high school this fall, as the Josephine Foundation’s work with St. Mary’s Elementary School this past year culminated in the March production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“I have long believed that the arts are an integral component to the overall comprehensive educational experience for students,” Cavallo said. “Whether creating an appreciation of the arts, either as a performer or as a supporter of the arts, St. Mary’s High School’s relationship with The Josephine Foundation promises to offer our students a unique opportunity in learning the art and science of performing and connecting with professionals in the field.”
Founded in 2002, the Josephine Foundation has provided more than $1.5 million in grants and services toward athletics and arts programs that give young people the tools to follow their dreams, according to the release.
Koslosky said in the release that young people who are involved in performing arts programs tend to do better in their math, English, reading and science classes.
“This is no accident,” said Koslosky. “In a world bursting with massive streams of information, coming from all directions…students are not being taught how to process and use this information.”
By Bill San Antonio
Friends of Maple Grove Recent Events
Through a Grant from The Josephine Foundation, this past April the Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery continued to enrich the lives of children with three successful hands-on educational programs: the Build-A-Bot Workshop, where children constructed a working robot from a cereal box; the Pupp-Pet Workshop, where children created their own puppet pet complete with a personal carrier; and Kids With Cameras, teaching the art of documentary film making and honoring Golden Age of Hollywood Director Irving Rapper, who is interred at Maple Grove Cemetery.
2013 Chairman's Honorees & Recognition Awards
The Josephine Foundation announces its 2103 Chairman's Honorees for the 11th Annual Follow Your Dreams Gala Honorees and Recognition Award Winners. Click here for the list of honorees and award winners.
2013 Follow Your Dreams Grant Winners
The Josephine Foundation announces its 2013 Follow Your Dreams Grant Winners. Click here for the list of recipients.
Foundation Friend Rev. Peter Connelly Celebrates 25th Anniversary
Abbot Xavier Connelly, OBS, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and The Josephine Foundation Chairman Andrew Joseph Koslosky at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the priesthood of Foundation Friend Rev. Peter Connelly.
Help Prevent Concussion Injuries to Athletes
Drew Brees and Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation have teamed up to "Bench Concussions!" Help educate and protect our athletes through PACE: Protecting Athletes through Concussive Education. Find a testing center or sign up your school or team today for baseline testing aimed to prevent or minimize damaging concussion injuries. Click here now for more information.
God on Broadway - A Heavenly Performance!
God never sounded so good! Working side by side with professionals, the St. Mary’s Manhasset Alumni theater group delivered a spectacular performance of “God on Broadway”, featuring songs from Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sister Act, Joseph & the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Book of Mormon and others. Against a modest setting with simple attire, the June 30th concert, at Immaculata Hall Theater, delivered the perfect blend of the vibrant, funny, spiritual, uplifting and joyful tunes we all know and love. At only $10 per ticket, with its $1500 in proceeds benefitting the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers’ Mission School in Kenya, these fantastic annual musical events are a must see for the whole family! View highlights
Please become a Friend of the Foundation for personal invitations to this and the many other Josephine Foundation events.
Summer Science Program Kicks Off!
Through a grant from The Josephine Foundation, the Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery kicked off its Summer Science Program. The three-session workshop, part of an outreach program through APEC (Alley Pond Park Environmental Center), held Saturday June 23rd, June 30th and July 7th, features workshops on Native Americans, Reptiles and Animal Alive. View highlights
Franken Puppet Workshop Breathed New Life Into Old Toys
Check out how creative young students, through a workshop sponsored by the Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery, one of the Foundation's grant partners, transformed old toys into new, unique puppets starring in their own original puppet show, taped by NY1.
10th Annual Follow Your Dreams Gala
The Josephine Foundation's 10th Annual Follow Your Dreams Gala was held on June 1st at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. The event honored Jimmy Heath, Cobi Narita, James Argutto and Carl Ballenas. It was our most successful Gala ever! Visit our 2012 Gala page.
10th Anniversary Video Debuts
Click here to enjoy the video produced by teenagers Steven Kristie, recipient of the 2012 Anthony Bellucci Scholarship Award, and Jeanne Phillippe Rancy, recipient of the 2012 Andrew Taraska Award, to celebrate the Foundation's 10th Anniversary and debuted at the Annual Follow Your Dreams Gala on June 1, 2012.
The Curtain Falls On Opening Act's 12th Successful Season!
Opening Act, NY, one of The Josephine Foundation's grant partners, closed its 12th year of programming with students performing original, full-length productions at 3LD Art and Tech Studio on May 14–18, 2012. These five amazing nights of performances drew packed houses, standing ovations, comedy, drama, magic, mythology, singing, dancing, and, of course, the powerful ideas and words of our acting ensembles.
"Kids With Cameras" Shoot Remarkable Work!
When The Josephine Foundation awarded a grant to the Aquinas Honor Society's "Kids with Cameras" program, the creativity it sparked in the children was astounding! Click here to see the results.