HONORING LEW: On Thursday evening, New York City Center’s annual gala honored Bobbie and Lew Frankfort with the 2014 Fiorello H. LaGuardia Award for distinguished service to New York City and New York City Center. The evening began with a special, one-night-only performance of “Encores! Celebrates Rodgers and Hammerstein and Hart,” showcasing some of the most popular pieces from Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II and Lorenz Hart, performed by an ensemble of Broadway performers, such as Kate Baldwin, Nick Cordero and Kelli O’Hara. Before the performance began, NYCC’s president and ceo Arlene Shuler took the stage at the center to open the gala. “All of us here at City Center are thrilled to be recognizing two of our dearest friends and most generous supporters,” she said before passing off the Frankfort’s official introduction to Ray Lamontagne, chairman emeritus.
“There is little need to extol the accomplishments of Lew as a businessman,” said Lamontagne. “He is the executive chairman of Coach, and he is a legend. He is equally legendary for his passion and dedication to underserved children and to education.” “Bobbie and I are lifetime New Yorkers — if you can’t tell by the accent,” Frankfort began. “This theatre was dubbed by Fiorello LaGuardia in 1943 as the people’s theater. He had a vision to bring the best of dance and musical theater to the broadest possible audience. I must say, more than 70 years later, the leadership of New York City Center stays equally committed to keeping this theater as affordable and accessible as any public theater can be.” This year’s event raised $2.2 million — its most-successful event to date. The biggest gift came courtesy of Frankfort’s place of employment: the Coach Foundation had donated $1 million to the center in order to provide educational opportunities to New York City students and teachers.