Following a champagne reception, a 90-minute concert will feature Panaro and Walnut/Philly favorites Rachel Camp, Sarah Gliko, Scott Greer, Danielle Herbert, Ben Lipitz, Michael Philip O'Brien, Lyn Philistine, Christopher Sutton, Denise Whelan, plus the Walnut casts of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story and Rodgers and Hammerstein's A Grand Night for Singing.
All proceeds from the gala show benefit the Walnut Street Theatre's education and outreach programming, which reaches over 110,000 Delaware Valley children annually.
The Edwin Forrest Award celebrates contributions to American theatre by members of the business community and the artistic community. The award was created in 1990 in honor of the leading American actor of the 19th-century, Edwin Forrest. Forrest was a Philadelphia native who made his debut at the Walnut in 1820. This year the Walnut honors Panaro and Martin W. Spector, Walnut trustee and retired executive vice president, general counsel, of ARAMARK.
The concert, dubbed Let the Good Times Roll!, plays the WST Mainstage at 7:30 PM May 11. Following the Gala Concert, a VIP After-Party will be held on the Thomas Jefferson University Campus in the Dorrance H. Hamilton Building (1001 Locust Street, between 10th and 11th Streets).
Panaro is currently playing the title role in Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera. Born in Philadelphia, Panaro is one of Broadway's leading tenors. Prior to his Broadway debut, he served as a church organist at Saint Helena's Roman Catholic Church during high school and studied music at Temple University (BA in voice, class of '85). One of his first professional roles was at Walnut Street Theatre for the 1986 production of A Little Night Music. He has since returned to play the leading roles of Fagin in Oliver! and Jean Valjean in the Walnut's record-breaking production of Les Misérables, for which he won the Barrymore Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Read more about Panaro's Broadway career in the Playbill Vault, the internet's most comprehensive database of Broadway information.
Spector was elected as a trustee of Walnut Street Theatre in 1989. He and wife Cindy co-chaired the Walnut Street Theatre Gala in 1992. In 1998, he lent his legal expertise to revise the theatre's by-laws and from 1997 to 2000, he stepped up to chair the theatre's nominating committee. In that role, "he was a champion for recruiting the strongest trustees for the Walnut's board and helped the theatre strengthen and grow to where it is today," according to WST.
For gala ticket information, visit walnutstreettheatre.org.