Chita Rivera. Photo Credit: Laura Marie Duncan
Monday night in New York City, stars of theatre and dance joined together to use their talents to raise scholarship funds for Chita Rivera, joined a whole host of theatre stars and performers from on the stage of the famous on 44th street in Manhattan. Theatrical celebs like TONY® winner Jessie Mueller of Broadway’s Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Waitress, and the upcoming Carousel (choreographed by NYCB’s Justin Peck), Anastasia’s Christy Altomare, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’s TONY® nominated Anika Larsen, and more performed to raise money for the LA based arts education focused foundation.. Theatre legend and chairperson of the foundation, Ms.
Art Attack Foundation executive director and former dancer, Dan Watt, produced the evening’s concert. Watt, a former personal assistant to theatre and television star Bea Arthur, began the foundation with the support of his former mentor. Arthur, known for her work in Broadway’s Mame and television hits like Maude and The Golden Girls lent her hand and her name by serving as the organization’s original chairperson. Watt’s vision was to develop a way to help young performers get funding to continue their arts education in a setting of their choice.
“We offer scholarships in all areas of the performing arts, and they can go to anyone,” Watt told Dance Network. He explained that students can use the scholarship funds to study in a studio or school of their choosing, without having to relocate their study to use the funding.
“You have your dance teacher where you’re already studying, or you singing teacher— [these scholarships] let us help with funding that,” Watt said.
The mission of the Southern California based Art Attack Foundation is to inspire community members and individuals, “to participate and contribute in the education, enhancement, and development of young performing artists. Art Attack Foundation nurtures and supports young talent through education, training, stage performances, scholarships, and other cultural activities.”
Dan Watt. Photo Credit: Kevin Alvey.
TONY® winning dancer, actress and singer Chita Rivera took over as Chairperson of the foundation after Ms. Arthur passed away in 2009. Dance Network spoke with Ms. Rivera about her dedication to arts education.
“It’s so necessary… [arts education is] something that’s absolutely important—and it’s got to be done. We all need music, movement, dance, and words in our lives, they make us better people,” Rivera said. “The universe is always moving, and we’ve got to be apart of it, and make music along with it.”
Special guest and long time friend of Chita Rivera, Ben Vereen, was scheduled to appear in the benefit concert, but unfortunately had to cancel because of the flu. Other acts in the evening’s line-up included two songs from Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (writers of Taylor The Latte Boy, and Ever After The Musical), Laurence O’Keefe (composer of Batboy, Legally Blonde, and Heathers), Lynne Shankel, Bonnie Milligan, Chris McCarrell, Julie Foldesi, and others. Birdland’s own Jim Caruso (Cast Party) emceed the festivities.
This year, one of the young performers honored with a scholarship from Art Attack Foundation, Anthony Garcia, performed during Monday night’s concert. As a young performer, Anthony has been studying musical theatre with , an organization founded by Rosie O’Donnell and Lori Klinger in 2003 dedicated to bringing musical theatre to children of all social and economic backgrounds. Dance Network spoke with Anthony and asked him about the importance of arts education in his life, and how it feels to be honored with a scholarship that gives him an opportunity to keep studying.
“This is something I’ve always dreamed of— to be on stage with such big names. I feel so lucky to here tonight. Thankfully, because of this scholarship, I’m able to be here,” Garcia said.
Anthony Garcia (in red) and a fellow Rosie’s Theatre Kids student performing at Birdland.
For all of the Dance Network interviews and more, keep your eye out atand @watchdancetv on Twitter and Instagram. For more about Art Attack Foundation and where you can help, visit .