Tag Archives: our lady of grace

Show still goes on for Sandy-damaged Rockaway Theatre Company

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Susan Jasper/Rockaway Theatre Company

The Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) was two weeks away from its production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” when Sandy devastated the peninsula.

RTC’s home, the Post Theatre in Fort Tilden, was destroyed, and the troupe has still not been able to get back in to start repairs.

The facility, rehabilitated only 15 years ago, now needs a new roof. The stage may have to be replaced. The entire building also requires a significant amount of mold remediation. Props and sets for the production were washed away.

In short, production, and the company’s entire season, was shut down indefinitely.

Enter Our Lady of Grace in Howard Beach.

Also damaged by flooding, the parish has become a temporary home for the theatre company, and organizers say the show will go on, with a downsized production and later start date.

“We’re losing our minds,” said Susan Jasper, production manager for the Rockaway Theatre Company. “But we’re coming up with interesting, unique ideas for making this work, and hopefully it’s going to work.”

The parish had been trying to revive a theatre group of its own, which disbanded about 10 years ago. When the school’s music teacher spoke with the Rockaway company’s musical director, a match was made and the parish extended an invitation for the company to move its production north to Howard Beach.

That was only two weeks ago, and Jasper says thing have taken off since then as producers face a tight deadline. As they recast for some roles, existing cast members have gotten back to rehearsals with just more than a month before the curtain rises.

Jasper and the rest of the crew now face the task of reducing the show from that of a full-size theater to a comparatively smaller venue, which does not have the needed wing size for a large cast. Props and sets will have to be rebuilt on a smaller scale as well.

Because so many people were displaced by the storm, Jasper said much of the cast had either been preoccupied by rebuilding, or had committed to other projects. Producers will recast new actors for some parts, and hold auditions for Our Lady of Grace students for the large children’s choir attached to the show.

“Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” will run the first two weekends of March. If the production is a success, she said, the RTC will bring the show to St. Francis de Sales in Rockaway.

Revenue from the production, normally used to help upgrade the Fort Tilden theater, will also go to helping Our Lady of Grace rebuild, Jasper said.

Gateway National Park has yet to tell the RTC when it can begin rebuilding the theater they inherited a decade-and-a-half ago.

Jasper said the little league that plays in Fort Tilden will be allowed back in this spring, and hopes the company will be allowed back in around the same time.





Friends mourn 13-year-old Salvatore Polizzi, who died in a Memorial Day motorbike accident

| tcullen@queenscourier.com


Family, friends and community members packed Our Lady of Grace church last week to say a tearful goodbye to Salvatore Polizzi, 13, who was tragically killed in an accident.

Before a church full of mourners, Father Anthony Rucando reminded the procession that it is not always how long one lives, but rather, how well.

Salvatore died in a motorbike accident over Memorial Day weekend in Pennsylvania while vacationing with his father, it was reported.

The teen was an eighth grader at M.S. 207 Rockwood Park. On Friday, June 1, after services ended, students waited outside of the school in silence as the procession passed. Along the fence were blue and yellow ribbons with personal messages to Salvatore written on them. A mural on the school’s third floor has also been painted to remember him, said Nina DeBlasio, Parent-Teacher Coordinator.

DeBlasio, also a family friend, said Salvatore was a fun-loving student who touched the lives of everyone around him.

“Nobody ever had a bad thing to say about him — ever,” she said. “I think he touched a great deal of lives forever.”

DeBlasio said students were trying to carry on, but that there was a noticeably saddened mood. The student body has been very supportive of his mother, Lysa King, she said.

“We’re here for his mom and here to support his mom anyway we can as a school and a community,” DeBlasio said.

Eighth grade celebrations — which Salvatore would have been a part of — will carry on, she said, but his memory will be incorporated now. His name will still be read in its place at graduation and an empty seat will be left open for him, DeBlasio said. Following the ceremony, students will release blue and gold balloons — along with a single white one in honor of their classmate.

Delicious way to raise money

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Eat chocolate, raise money?

That’s exactly what happened this past weekend when the Rotary Club of South West Queens hosted a chocolate fundraiser for the community-based Our Lady of Grace Ministry of Care and Service Food Pantry.

For the price of admission, attendees were able to indulge in treats such as M&M pancakes, chocolate pancakes, chocolate chip muffins, and chocolate cookies and brownies.

There was also a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit, pretzels and even marshmallows. Home-baked chocolate truffles were also available. To wash it all down – chocolate milk, of course. Chocolate-themed movies were also played on a big screen for the children to enjoy.

“This was a great idea! Job well done,” said Senator Joseph Addabbo, who brought his wife and two girls to the gooey fun.

To learn more about the South West Queens Rotary Club, visit www.southwestqueensrotary.org, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SWQRotary.