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Letter: Viking Masquers Gala Raises $45K

The Arts Angels booster club of North Shore Schools is thrilled to report that the Viking Masquers 50th Anniversary Gala raised over $45,000 (and counting!) to revive the district’s Summer Theater Workshop program.  Over 140 alumni and current students participated in a sold-out Alumni Show, preceded by a sold out dinner with raffles and auction.  Many thanks to all in the community - individuals and businesses - who supported this event with generous donations and to the many volunteers who gave their talents, time and energy to this effort.  

The Summer Theater Workshop ran for 42 years until funding was cut a decade ago. It provided intensive six-week production-based training in all aspects of the dramatic arts and added up to four shows to the community’s summer entertainment options.   It was begun by Masquers founding advisor Bruce Mooney, now retired to North Carolina, who came back to North Shore to be honored at the event, along with founding music director, renowned music educator Bennett Lentczner, who was one of three orchestra conductors for the evening.  

The workshop launched numerous careers in the performing arts.  Alumni include celebrated actor Michael McKean, who made a special video appearance at the gala and comedian Kate McKinnon Berthold, currently a member of the cast of Saturday Night Live, who performed a duet with her sister, filmmaker Emily Berthold. The show featured two dozen favorite songs from past musicals with singers accompanied by 36-piece on-stage orchestra of alumni and guest musicians.  

Rehearsals were held on three weekends this spring.  Retired North Shore band director Jeremy Kempton and current band leader David Soto conducted segments of the show.  Retired North Shore choral director Stephen Goldstein prepared vocalists and, accompanied the orchestra on piano along with Glen Head resident Sandra Baskin, president of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra.  North Shore faculty members Michael Kleba, Michael Kerschner, Dean Miller, Janice Chen contributed their expertise, along with music teachers Lisa Polito and Bryce Larsen, who also are Masquers alumni.  An independent foundation will be formed to run the revived Summer Theater Workshop program starting in the summer of 2014.  In the decade since it was founded Arts Angels, the district’s official booster club for the arts, has raised over $60,000 to enhance district arts programs.  To learn more, visit www.northshoreartsangels.org.

Julia Brennan, producer