Blumenthal Performing Arts President & CEO Tom Gabbard Honored at 12th Annual Broadway Dreams Gala

Dec 10, 2019 / Press Releases
By Becky Bereiter

(December 10, 2019) New York, NY – Broadway Dreams celebrated its 12th annual holiday gala at the St. Regis New York December 9. The event honored Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) as well as Blumenthal Performing Arts President and CEO Tom Gabbard with the foundation’s inaugural Founders Award, in recognition of his contributions towards arts education.

“We’re so thankful for our relationship with Broadway Dreams. The quality of their faculty, instruction and mentoring is truly exceptional. They coach students artistically and professionally, but also provide keen insight into their personal growth as young artists,” said Gabbard.

Honorees Tom Kitt and Tom Gabbard with their wives Rita Pietropinto and Vicki.JPG

(Honorees Tom Kitt and Tom Gabbard with their wives Rita Pietropinto and Vicki Gabbard)

Founded in 2006 by Annette Tanner, the performing arts education organization offers programs year-round that inspire students to awaken their highest potential through theatre intensives, new works development, and more. Their week-long Summer Intensive in Charlotte is among their largest.

“What an honor it was for Blumenthal’s education programs to be honored by the Broadway community through this new award,” added Gabbard. “Charlotte students who have participated in these programs are thriving.  With three Blumey Awards winners currently starring in Broadway shows, another producing his first two Broadway shows, and yet another performing off-Broadway, we’re seeing proof that these programs help to create opportunity for Charlotte talent to achieve their full potential.”  

The gala was hosted by Christopher J. Hanke (How to Succeed in Business). Broadway stars in attendance included Heidi Blickenstaff (Something Rotten), Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), Quentin Earl Darrington (Once on This Island), Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (writers of Ragtime) and more came out to celebrate the not-for-profit arts organization, alongside featured performances directed by Olivier Award nominee Stafford Arima (Allegiance). Gabbard was introduced by four-time Tony Award-winning producer and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Dori Berinstein.

The Charlotte-area was well represented at this year’s gala. Northwest School of the Arts graduate Reneé Rapp was one of the featured performers. She is currently starring in Mean Girls on Broadway, playing the role of “Regina George.”

Antonio Cipriano and ReneeĢ Rapp (1).JPG

(Antonio Cipriano and Reneé Rapp)

Ardrey Kell High School graduate Anna Hertel also performed at the gala as part of the Broadway Dreams Student Choir. She is currently majoring in Musical Theater at Elon University.

Broadway Dreams Student Choir.JPG

(Broadway Dreams Student Choir)

Central Academy of Technology and Arts graduate Nkeki Obi-Melekwe also attended the star-studded event. She is currently starring in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, in select performances on Broadway. Rapp, Hertel and Obi-Melekwe were very involved in the Broadway Dreams organization ahead of making their professional debuts.

Nkeki Obi-Melekwe.JPG

(Nkeki Obi-Melekwe)


For more information about Broadway Dreams, visit:

For more information on Blumenthal’s investment in Broadway Dreams, visit:



Blumenthal Performing Arts serves the Carolinas as a leading cultural, entertainment and education provider. For more information, call (704) 372-1000 or visit Blumenthal Performing Arts receives operating support from the Arts & Science Council and North Carolina Arts Council. Blumenthal Performing Arts is also supported by PNC Bank, sponsor of the PNC Broadway Lights.