Molloy College students and Broadway performers will band together for a cause on April 5, when the college’s Madison Theatre presents “Gershwin to Broadway,” a benefit concert for Ukraine.
“Our mission at Molloy is to help those in the community, and in this case the worldwide community,” President Dr. James Lentini said, “so when we see people in need, we do everything we can to help. It’s part of our mission here.”
The event is scheduled for April 5, at 7 p.m., and will feature performances by students in the college’s theater program as well as the cast of Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera” and Richie Cannata, who is best known as Billy Joel’s saxophonist. Tickets cost $50 to $100, and all proceeds will go to Catholic Relief Services, to help those in Ukraine who are reeling from the Russian invasion.
Lentini said the concert came together fast, in a matter of weeks, after discussions he had with Ernie Canadeo, a marketing manager who serves on the Long Island Association Board with Lentini. After Lentini approached Canadeo with the idea of using Molloy’s theater to host a concert to benefit Ukrainians, they turned to Angelo Fraboni, a former Broadway performer who manages the Madison, and Dr. Louis Pannullo, a Broadway producer, to co-produce the event.
“We have a great musical theater program here called CAP21, and it gets students to Molloy from all over the country,” Lentini said, “so it’s natural for us to want to do something like this for our campus.”
Jeremy Stolle, who has been in the “Phantom” cast for over a decade and has performed in theater for 20 years, will serve as master of ceremonies, and perform alongside some of his “Phantom” castmates. Stolle said he was excited to be a part of a benefit show for the first time since before the pandemic, and to perform songs the “Phantom” company doesn’t usually have a chance to sing in front of an audience. He added that the cause also meant a great deal to him.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s really nice to be able to give back with my skill set. You can donate money, we can all take part and do something, and … it’s fantastic to be able to use my skills to do good.”
Stolle said that he and his fellow actors got on board for the production because he is a friend of Pannullo’s. He said he was also thrilled to get to perform alongside Molloy students. “The stars of tomorrow and the stars of today meet together, and it’s going to be a great night,” he said. “This will also be a new theater. I’ve been all over the world in theaters everywhere, and this will be the first time I’ve been to this particular theater, so I’m excited to see the inside of it.”
Lentini said he was also pleased to be able to help support Ukraine, and looked forward to the event. “I love watching students perform,” he said. “And with the pros with them, it should be a great night.”