By Gina Martinez
The Astoria Performing Arts Center threw a party earlier this month to honor two men who have made a commitment to the arts in New York City and Queens.
City Councilman and Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Ted Chapin, president of Rodgers & Hammerstein — the organization that controls the rights to the Broadway legends’ musicals — were recognized at APAC’s annual gala held at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
“The Museum of the Moving Image is a wonderful venue, and a fitting place to celebrate APAC with our friends,” Mackenzi Farquer, APAC board member and chairwoman of the gala committee, said. “The funds we raise with the event will go to support our current season, including our upcoming production of ‘Merrily We Roll Along,’ and our community programs for children and senior citizens.”
The evening included musical numbers performed by actors from previous APAC productions. Broadway, film and TV star Christine Toy Johnson, who plays Dr. Celia Lee on “Law and Order: SVU,” also sang a piece from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music,” to mark the 50th anniversary of the film version of the beloved musical.
When it came time to pick two individuals worthy of recognition for their work prompting the arts, APAC Interim Executive Director Heather Shields said the choices were not hard to make.
“Ted Chapin has been a titan in the industry for many years as the president of Rodgers & Hammerstein. Specifically, he was supremely instrumental in helping and supporting APAC’s critically acclaimed production of ‘Allegro’ last season,” she said. “Jimmy Van Bramer has been a lifelong resident of Queens and a longtime supporter of the arts, the Astoria community, and APAC’s programming as a whole. We were thrilled both of these gentlemen honored us by accepting our gracious thanks.”
During his speech, Van Bramer spoke of his love for all things that have Astoria at the beginning of their name.
According to Shields, “He loved the inclusion of ‘The Sound of Music’ in the evening’s entertainment, remembering that he and his mother used to watch the film together.”
During Chapin’s speech he revealed that his mother was related to the Steinway family, who have been building pianos in Astoria since the 1870s, adding to the down-home feel of the evening, Shields said.
“He also gave some background on the trials and, ultimately, the rewards of bringing a neglected classic, such as ‘Allegro,’ back to audiences,” she said.