Spotlight on Fernando: Come ready to dance!

As we inch ever closer to the first performance of Playing Hot, we’re thrilled to introduce you to all the remarkable artists who are working together to bring Buddy’s story to life. Today we’re pleased to feature Fernando Contreras, actor, dancer, singer, life enthusiast, Pipeline founding ensemble member, and Playing Hot cast member. Read more from Fernando below, and grab you tickets to Playing Hot today!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? 

Fernando Contreras: As a founding member of Pipeline, I believe this is one of the most important pieces we’ve done. It’s super diverse and non-traditional, and as we grow as a company, we’ve seen the importance of diverse stories and casts. It’s beautiful. 

PTC: When did you first start working on Playing Hot?

FC: I began with the first iteration as part of a one night experience Pipeline produced as a mystery show. People didn’t know what was coming and it was so exciting.

PTC: Tell us about what this journey has been like for you.

FC: It has been amazing and heart wrenching being able to work on this through the last 3 years exploring how this story has changed with the times and with different political climates than when we started.

PTC: Tell us about your characters in Playing Hot and where/if you see yourself in them.

FC: I play several characters and they are all bits of me but very extreme versions of those bits. I get to do 5/6 different accents/voice types, sometimes within 5 minutes of each other. An actor’s dream! 

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot?

FC: Come ready to dance!

PTC: What’s the most important element of this project to you?

FC: The cultural commentary and how the story of Buddy Bolden is a recurring story throughout history, it is cyclical in nature, we see it every coupla’ years.

PTC: If you there were to be an “untold true story” about your own life, what would be the subject?

FC: It’d be about how I truly never stop dancing. What would it be called? Fernando: Dancing at a Street Light.

In addition to Playing Hot, you can also catch Fernando in SHIZ: Broadway Meet Sketch Comedy, which happens monthly at UCB Hell’s Kitchen (Next ones : 3/25, 4/15 @ 10:30pm). You can also follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @omgitzfern. And don’t forget to snag that Playing Hot tickets early! Prices will go up on April 1 and again on April 18! Why pay more when you don’t have to?

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Spotlight on Jaki Bradley: Never play it the same way twice

All March and April we’ll be introducing you to the remarkable artists who will be bringing our singular and explosive theatrical event, Playing Hot, to Midtown starting April 18. Today we are pleased to introduce you to Jaki Bradley, co-creator and director, who has been part of the creation of this show from day one. Learn all about Jaki below, and if you’re hungry for even more keep reading with our interviews with co-creator and co-writer Kevin Armento, co-writer C.A. Johnson, and music supervisor Marcus Miller.

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Jaki Bradley: This show contains everything I’m interested in as an artist – a formally inventive piece, an important untold story, a different way of looking at theater and its audience – but at this point, the show is mostly about the people who have brought it to life. The company is like family, and I’m mostly honored to be bringing the show to life alongside them.

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

JB: When we starting developing Playing Hot, we wanted to honor Buddy Bolden’s story and legacy, and to create a play written in the style of the art form he invented, jazz. The show riffs on the narrative the same way Buddy riffed with notes on the page, which allows us to interrogate aspects of the story as we’re telling it. AND it’s a party!

PTC: If you were to write a tagline for Playing Hot, what would it be?

JB: There’s a note at the beginning of the script that says “Never play it the same way twice,” and that really sums it up for me.

PTC: Talk to us about the very beginning of you work on this? How did it start?

JB: In a way, I started working on this show 15 years ago when I read Michael Oondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter, a novel loosely based on the story of Buddy Bolden. The story of this man who invented jazz but left no recordings and only one photograph behind captivated and haunted me, and I wanted to find a way to share that story theatrically. But officially, we wrote Pipeline an email with a crazy idea for a brass band-concert-party play in 2015, and have been hard at work on the show since then.

PTC: What drew you to this story in particular? What makes this urgent for you?

JB: I want more people to know about Buddy Bolden because his contribution is in every song we listen to today, and through a combination of bad timing (he played about 15 years before radios were in every household) and white supremacy, most people don’t know his name. I also think Buddy’s story allows us to ask broader questions about the cost of genius and the cycles of appropriation in art and popular culture.

Jaki and Playing Hot co-creator and co-writer Kevin Armento just finished writing a feature film, a horror movie titled Detox. She’s also got a slate of plays and short films on the horizon, you can keep up with all of it on her website, www.jakibradley.com. Follow her on Instagram at @jakibradley. And don’t forget to grab those Playing Hot tickets today!

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Spotlight on Marcus Miller: Paying respects to an ancestor of the music that has given me so much in life

Playing Hot is all about jazz: it’s creation, it’s enduring legacy, and the way it’s woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. So today, we’re honored to introduce you to Marcus Miller, the Music Supervisor on Playing Hot, who has been a lead voice weaving music into our show for the past three years of development. Learn more about Marcus below, and catch him on stage in Playing Hot, April 18 – May 12. Grab your tickets now!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Marcus Miller: This is my first play and I’m excited to expand my musical horizons doing something a little different than my usual musical life. I have been involved in the project for 3 previous iterations and I really love the team.

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

MM: Jazz music is a deeply Black American creation. The social realities under which it developed, the distinctive rhythmic approach, the view taken of it by the elite all speak deeply to the black American experience. We don’t have much history about our subject, Buddy Bolden, but we can see him through the lens of the times and through some of the fundamental constructs of American culture, some of which  continue to be true today.

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

MM: I have been playing the saxophone all of my adult life. Honored to participate in paying respects an ancestor of the music that has given me so much in life.

PTC: What instrument do you play? When did you first start and what initially drew you to jazz?

MM: I started playing saxophone at 9 years old and got into jazz because my father had a vast jazz record collection. He bought a fake book full of jazz standards and I loved playing the melodies and hearing recording of great musicians playing the songs.

Catch Marcus at his event, Math Plus Music, on April 12 and in Playing Hot April 18 – May 12. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @marcustheartyst.

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Spotlight on Kevin Armento: A biopic that is spectral in both meanings of the word

Throughout all March and April we’re getting up close and personal with all the incredible artists who are currently building our jazz concert-party-play hybrid, Playing Hot. Today, we’re bringing you an interview with Playing Hot co-creator and co-writer, Kevin Armento. To learn more about the writing of Playing Hot, check out our interview with Kevin’s writing partner on the show, C.A. Johnson, which was posted last week. And don’t forget to snatch up those tickets for performances April 18 – May 12.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Kevin Armento: The most exciting part is feeling like we’ve created a family together, and that our family is really just putting on a New Orleans party for folks. It’s exciting because that’s exactly what we set out to do: bring a sweaty swinging vibe to Midtown, so everyone can ease their troubles for a night and engage with a compelling story.

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

KA: The show has like 45 characters and a six person brass band, and it took an even bigger army of artists and practitioners over the past four years to bring that shit to life. Three of our collaborators are from New Orleans, our Music Supervisor and band are all jazz musicians by trade, and we hope this lends an authenticity to both the sound and storytelling.

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

KA: I HATED jazz as a kid because I only knew it to be Kenny G. Then as a teenager I got into 60’s free jazz, which I liked but mostly pretended to understand because it seemed like smart music to listen to. Then I was exposed to New Orleans trad and it’s like my whole body woke up. It slows you down and speeds you up all at once, and you can think about it or numb your mind entirely, and enjoy it just the same. Part of the show is trying to create those dualities in a piece of theater.

PTC: Talk to us about the very beginning of you work on this? How did it start?

KA: It started when Jaki was like, “There should be a theater piece about New Orleans jazz.” And I was like, “Yeah.” We’re both obsessed with all things NOLA, and had been into the lore surrounding Buddy Bolden, so that felt like a good place to start. We did a bunch of research trips to the jazz archive at Tulane, and befriended Buddy’s biographer, who’s now a character in the show. And then we set out to find the collaborators who could make something like this possible…which led us to the magic makers at Pipeline.

PTC: What drew you to this story in particular? What makes this urgent for you?

KA: Half the urgency lies in my yearning for a night of theater in which we just laugh together and drink together and move together, and our cerebrums can take a fucking night off. I mean there’s plenty to chew on in this show, but any time we’ve tried to intellectualize it too much, joy wins out. Soul wins out, and the meditations on theme happen more by osmosis. That said, this is a show about the pioneer of jazz, America’s Art Form, who got zero credit or money for it and died alone in an asylum. So on a personal level, I feel an urgency to help correct that. And C.A. and I are trying to do that by telling his story in the very style he created, a biopic that is spectral in both meanings of the word, because history has left us so little of this man, and also because it’s more fun that way.

Check out Kevin’s short films at Boston Film Festival, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Aspen this spring! He’s also currently working on commissions from Ars Nova and Manhattan Theatre Club. Follow him on Twitter at @kephen and on Instagram at @kevinarmento. And don’t forget to snag those SUPER EARLY BIRD tickets to Playing Hot, before they’re gone.

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Spotlight on Monique St. Cyr: It asks the audience to create this experience with us

We’re bringing you the world premiere of Playing Hot, an explosive theatrical event in the style of jazz, April 18 – May 12. In advance of that, we’ve sat down with all the artists involved to get a deeper look into the process of building this jazz concert-party-play hybrid. We’re kicking things off with profiles on the members of our team who were born and raised in Louisiana, and are lending their vital voice and expertise to Playing Hot.

Earlier this week we featured co-writer C.A. Johnson and musician/actor/producer Linton Smith II. Today, we’re getting you up close and personal with actor, Monique St. Cyr, who has been with the project since our workshop presentation back in 2016. Learn all about Monique in the interview below, and snag your tickets now at the highly limited Super Early Bird rate.

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Monique St. Cyr: I’m working on this project because of the music.  I love feeling the vibration of the music in my body, and this play gets at the way this music wants to be experienced – in the form of a party.

It’s bigger than any one person.  The show is a true ensemble piece, and it goes further and asks the audience to create this experience with us, because it doesn’t exist in isolation.  That’s pretty special.

PTC: What is your relationship to Buddy Bolden’s story?

MSC: I see this as a story about community, but also about the ways women take care of their families.  So much of Buddy’s story depends on other people, particularly the women he lived with – his mother, his sister, and, for a time, Nora. 

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

MSC: I grew up listening to jazz because my dad plays trumpet.  Some of my favorite teenaged memories are of listening to old jazz songs with my dad on the way to New Orleans and then listening to him play with a band, either in hotels or on the streets of the French Quarter.

A kind of roundabout way of trying to explain it: there’s this old picture of my grandfather that I love.  He’s in college on the G.I. Bill, and he wears a thin mustache, a fresh haircut, and a purple jacket.  He’s holding a cane tilted to the side, and he knows he looks good.  You can basically see the spring in his step.  This is a man that speaks so softly you could barely hear him across the dinner table.  To me, that picture is proof of what music can do.

PTC: If you were to write a tagline for Playing Hot, what would it be?

MSC: brass FUNKY.

PTC: When did you first start working on Playing Hot? Tell us about what this journey has been like for you.

MSC: I joined for the one-night-only production at Gym at Judson three years ago now.  It’s been really great to come back to it and see how different aspects of the show have marinated and become more fully realized.  And there are new collaborators!  Fresh eyes (and ears) are always welcome because I’ve been finding that that lets you fall in love with the project all over again.

PTC: Tell us about your character(s) in Playing Hot and where/if you see yourself in them.

MSC: I play Nora, who’s the love of Buddy’s life.  She’s got quite an independent streak to her.  She’s fiery. she’s not easily jealous, but you definitely can’t ignore her.

I think she believes she’s found her family in Buddy, but I think she struggles with what it means to not only support her partner but also to support his music.  I think people underestimate the amount of sacrifice required for something like art, especially if you are still working a day job.

PTC: Will you share a bit of your personal history with us? Where in Louisiana did you grow up and what brought you to New York?

MSC: So I recently found out (when I was doing research for this play) that I’m distantly related to a jazz guitarist named Johnny St. Cyr, who talks about seeing Buddy Bolden when he was young and who went on to play with Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bichet.  I thought that was pretty cool.

Anyway. 

I’m from Lafayette, which is a couple hours west of new Orleans, but I have a lot of memories of holidays in New Orleans, because everyone would gather at my grandparents’ house for gumbo and pound cake, and the Saints’ game would be on in the living room and music would be on in the front room.

I came to New York after college because I love theater and I wanted to see and do more of it.

PTC: What has it been like for you to bring New Orleans to New York through Playing Hot?

MSC: It’s been really satisfying that Playing Hot chases the feeling that people associate with New Orleans.  The show is a party.  It’s a feeling that comes from a culture with thick, sticky air and where time moves a little more slowly. 

PTC: What parts of New Orleans do you feel it’s most important to represent through this story?

MSC: There’s a certain amount of laissez-faire – that feeling of “do what you wanna,” which is literally a song and anthem for Mardi Gras. But it applies to the rest of the year too! 

Monique has developmental work coming up with the Santa Fe Opera, and also has several films at festivals including Ask for Jane (about abortion activists in the late sixties) and Nevermind Goodbye (a modern coming of age story). Keep up with Monique on Instagram at @moniquestcyr and on Facebook at /moniqueystcyr. And catch her in Playing Hot, April 18 – May 12. Grab your tickets here!

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Spotlight on Linton Smith: Jazz is the first place I felt like I could really express myself

Performances of Playing Hot will begin April 18 at Theater 511. Ahead of the production, we’ve sat down with all the artists involved to get a deeper look into the process of building this jazz concert-party-play hybrid. We’re kicking things off with profiles on the members of our team who were born and raised in Louisiana, and are lending their vital voice and expertise to Playing Hot.

Earlier this week we featured co-writer C.A. Johnson. Today, we’re getting you up close and personal with musician and producer, Linton Smith II, who also happens to be originating the role of Buddy Bolden in our world premiere production. Learn all about Linton in the interview below, and snag your tickets now at the highly limited Super Early Bird rate.

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Linton Smith II: I’m working on this project because it’s such an amazing opportunity. Getting to be a part of telling Buddy Bolden’s story, the man credited with discovering jazz is exciting. I’m ecstatic for the chance to work with all these amazing artists!

PTC: What is your relationship to Buddy Bolden’s story?

LS: Well, on the surface I relate to Buddy’s story as a black trumpet player from New Orleans, but on a deeper level I relate to his story in that my musical journey has been one that has been met with a lot of doubts. I feel like the struggle to prove to everyone that your vision works because it’s genuine is something Buddy’s story and my own share.

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

LS: Jazz is the first place I felt like I could really express myself. I found the recordings had a freedom and a strong soulfulness to them that grabbed me. Then as I studied it more I found my mind stimulated by the complexities of the music. On top of all that, it’s music that was born from my city and from my culture, I couldn’t help but love it!

PTC: When did you first start working on Playing Hot? Tell us about what this journey has been like for you.

LS: I just started working with everyone in January. It’s been a bit scary I must admit, but it’s the good kind of scary, the excited kind of scary. The cast is so incredible and I believe this production can be beyond great! There’s so much talent involved in this production.

PTC: Tell us about your character(s) in Playing Hot and where/if you see yourself in them.

LS: I’m playing Buddy Bolden who is widely considered the founder of jazz. I find he and I relate in a number of ways. We’re both from New Orleans, both black trumpet players, and we both are relentless in a search for what is unique and individual within us and our music.

PTC: When did you first start playing music and what initially drew you to jazz?

LS: I sing, produce, and play trumpet. I’ve been doing music for about 14 years now. My mom got me started with playing music and in 7th grade my middle school had a jazz band and I just fell in love with the freedom and the expression.

PTC: Will you share a bit of your personal history with us? Where in Louisiana did you grow up and what brought you to New York?

LS: I grew up living in New Orleans East, but because my family is a big one I spent a lot of time in a lot of different parts of city. I came up to New York York attend The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music for college.

PTC: What has it been like for you to bring New Orleans to New York through Playing Hot?

LS: It’s been really great bringing some of New Orleans to New York. I tend to always miss being home and experiencing all the cultural elements that exist in New Orleans, so working with this play has really been therapeutic for me. 

PTC: What parts of New Orleans do you feel it’s most important to represent through this story?

LS: I feel like there is a richness to the culture of New Orleans that very few places had during Buddy’s time. In this country, and especially in the south, there were many institutions that existed not only to limit, but really to completely destroy any hope of freedom for Black Americans. I think the most important part of New Orleans I want represented is the strength in the black community that existed there that not everyone had, the strength that allowed for this music to be created, and the strength that still exists there today.

Linton will be releasing several singles over the coming weeks, and has more projects coming this summer. Keep up with him on Instagram at @lintwan.the.conqueror and. @lintonesproductions. And grab those Playing Hot tickets while you still can!

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Spotlight on C.A. Johnson: A story that’s much larger than its spectacle

We’re bringing New Orleans to Midtown Manhattan this spring with the world premiere of Playing Hot (April 18 – May 12, 2019). This singular and explosive theatrical event retraces the life of Buddy Bolden, the radical trumpeter who pioneered jazz.

In advance of the premiere, we’ve sat down with all the artists involved to get a deeper look into the process of building this jazz concert-party-play hybrid. We’re kicking things off with profiles on the members of our team who grew up in Louisiana, and are lending their very specific and vital voice and expertise to our production. First up is our remarkable co-writer, playwright C.A. Johnson. Learn all about C.A. in the interview below, and snag your tickets now at the highly limited Super Early Bird rate.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

C.A. Johnson: I think this is a show about the costs of genius.  Yes, Buddy created a musical style that literally became the basis of much of popular music for decades, but in doing so, he put himself at risk. In certain times, these have been the costs for visionaries, and if you make that visionary a Black man then it just gets even more dark.

PTC: What is your relationship to Buddy Bolden’s story?

CJ: What’s funny is that even though I’m from New Orleans and was raised by a family of musicians, I didn’t learn about Buddy until my 20s. So much of consuming jazz back home can just be a about brass, Mardi Gras, and partying, but to know the deep, deep history of it all requires you to really sit down.

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

CJ: Well I was born and raised in the New Orleans area, so I was raised on Jazz. From the second lines and jazz concerts of my childhood to my great-aunt first handing me a Miles Davis record at about thirteen and just saying “you betta listen”, jazz and the blues were my first musical languages.

PTC: How did you first become involved in this project?

CJ: Kevin and Jaki reached out to me about this great project they’d been developing and their interest in working alongside an artist who grew up in New Orleans and could lend that expertise. I read the script, watched a taping of a workshop, and just fell in love. 

PTC: What drew you to this story in particular? What makes this urgent for you?

CJ: The show is so fun and vibrant (like any good concert), but it quickly becomes a story that’s much larger than its spectacle. Buddy Bolden was a genius and a pioneer, but we don’t know about him because he had some pretty specific problems in a time when Black men’s wellbeing and mental health weren’t of public importance. We don’t know him, because history didn’t care to. So I’m excited to be a part of telling some piece of that story.

PTC: Will you share a bit of your personal history with us? Where in Louisiana did you grow up and what brought you to New York?

CJ: I grew up outside the city in Metairie, LA as well as all over the city proper. I really came to New York because theater was calling, but I’ve lived all over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic since around Hurricane Katrina.

PTC: What has it been like for you to bring New Orleans to New York through Playing Hot?

CJ: New York is such a city of schedules and timetables and events, while New Orleans has a culture of kick-backs, approximations, and tardiness. Nothing happens quickly because really nothing needs to, so capturing that spirit in a theatrical performance feels like both the biggest and most exciting challenge.

PTC: What parts of New Orleans do you feel it’s most important to represent through this story?

CJ: I think it’s important to represent the resilience of the city of New Orleans. It’s a place that has survived so much because its people never give up. From corruption to natural disasters, the spirit of New Orleans is one of letting the good times roll, and always finding a way out of the dark.  There’s a party to be had out in the light after all!

In addition to Playing Hot, you can catch C.A.’s play, The Climb, at Cherry Lane Theatre Mentor Project April 3-13th. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cajohso90. And don’t forget, grab those Playing Hot tix before it’s too late!

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Playing Hot Tickets Now On Sale

Super Early Bird tickets are now available for all performances of our highly anticipated world premiere production of Playing Hot (April 18 – May 12, Theater 511).

SNAG YOUR TICKETS NOW

This explosive new show takes you inside a brassy New Orleans dance hall, where the incredible untold story of the birth of jazz is brought to life. Retracing the rise and fall of Buddy Bolden, the radical trumpeter who pioneered America’s Art Form, Playing Hot is neither play nor musical, neither biography nor period piece — but a singular theatrical event in the style of jazz. With the help of a live brass band, Buddy’s legend and infectious sound echo through time, riffing on history and pop culture much like his music riffed on the notes on the page.

But act fast! There are only a limited number of tickets available at the Super Early Bird rate. Grab your tickets first and save big, and scroll down to meet our extraordinary cast!

Meet Our Cast

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Calling All Big Dreamers: Be Part of the the PlayLab Class of 2020

We are thrilled to now be accepting applications for the PlayLab Class of 2020! Now entering its seventh year, the PlayLab is a playwrights group that aids and encourages artists in growing their biggest, wildest ideas into imaginative and daring new plays. Through monthly meetings, workshop-events, and an artistic retreat, each writer is supported in developing their ambitious initial concept into a new script. At the end of the year, each playwright will have the opportunity to present their script as part of Pipeline’s Week of Extraordinary Risk. The deadline to apply is March 17, 2019, 11:59PM ET.

Learn More & Apply

In line with our vision, we want you to send us your most impossible idea for a play that you are dying to write. We are looking for plays that bend the rules, and playwrights who crave a space in which they can dive into new, uncharted territory. We are interested in fostering projects in their earliest stages of conception – the closer you are to first putting pen to paper, the better!

PlayLab playwrights should be excited to work within a collaborative group atmosphere, and enjoy providing and receiving constructive feedback. We pay special attention to building a dynamic cohort and encourage playwrights of all races, ethnicities, genders, abilities, physical presentation, and educational and professional backgrounds to apply.

Though the primary aim of the PlayLab is to support playwrights in turning their biggest, wildest ideas into finished plays, our secondary aim is to expand each playwright’s creative network, and in doing so also build Pipeline’s community. Through Week of Extraordinary Risk, Springboards, and the retreat, we introduce our PlayLab playwrights to our large and vibrant artistic network, while also inviting each playwright to bring in their own contacts to work with us. In this way, PlayLab playwrights can expect to walk away from the program with an exciting new roster of artists to work with for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Ahron R. Foster

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Online Auction: Launching Today! 🚀💫

At our upcoming 10th Anniversary Gala, we’ll have lots and lots of glamorous prizes. But you don’t have to wait until this Sunday.

Our CharityBuzz online auction has launched! Right now, this minute, you have access to our most luxurious offerings!

Wanna hold out for the Gala? That’s cool too. Click here for a listing of our silent auction prizes, including a Hudson Valley getaway, tickets to Phantom of the Opera on Broadway with a backstage tour, and an exclusive tour of New York Public Radio Studios!

GET TIX

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