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INTERVIEW: Scott Schwartz On Bay Street's Final Gala On The Wharf, Host Jane Lynch, A Nod To Golden Age Of Broadway, And More

Nicole Barylski

Jane Lynch is hosting this year's Gala.

Bay Street Theater is bringing in the big guns to commemorate its last Gala that will be held on the Wharf in Sag Harbor. Taking place on Saturday, July 7, Some Enchanted Evening: The Final Celebration on the Wharf will feature cocktails and a presentation in the theater, followed by a celebration of the Golden Age of Broadway under the tent on the Long Wharf.

We caught up with Scott Schwartz, Bay Street Theater's Artistic Director, to learn more about this year's spectacular, which will be hosted by the legendary Jane Lynch.

Tell me a bit about this year's honorees.

SS: We're honoring Eric Batt and Luigi Caiola and both of their families. Eric and Luigi are both longtime and very important board members at Bay Street, so we're thrilled to be honoring them, and we're also honoring all of the businesses of Sag Harbor. This is our last Gala on the Wharf of Sag Harbor. The Town of Sag Harbor has changed its policy on the Wharf and they're going to be doing a big renovation so they've said they're not going to allow big events to be set up on the Wharf anymore so this would be the last year we could do it. That kind of motivated us to think about how incredibly supportive all the businesses of Sag Harbor have been towards Bay Street for our Gala for 27 years now, and beyond that how supportive our whole community and business community has been towards the arts and how we work together as a team to make Sag Harbor this amazing destination - not only in the summer, but year-round. So, we decided to honor our friends and business partners of Sag Harbor.

We also use a lot of local purveyors from the East End, so a lot of what is served at the Gala, and the groups that help us put it together are local businesses. It's really in a way a huge celebration of East End businesses and all of the places that make this place so special.

This year's Gala must be a little bittersweet as it will be the final time that it takes place on the Wharf.

SS: It is. We've loved doing it on the Wharf and I think it made this Gala one of the three or four special events of the summer for our whole community. So we're sorry that this will be the last year, but change is also good. I already have ideas for next year and beyond that will be equally exciting and fabulous. We do think it's a great idea for people who have come to the Gala before to come again and get to experience this beautiful tent on the water and enjoy the sunset and the music and the dancing and auctions. It's really one of the most beautiful nights I've ever experienced and certainly of the summer in Sag Harbor. So people who have come, I hope they come again, and I hope some people that have never come will take the time to experience it because this is the last time.

What will this year's lineup include?

SS: I'm so excited about it! I think it's really going to be the best Gala we've ever had at Bay Street and I can't wait to share it with all of the attendees. Somewhat inspired by the fact that this is our last year on the Wharf, we decided to do a celebration of the Golden Age of Broadway (1943 to 1959), in a way we're looking back on those shows, from when Oklahoma to Gypsy and Sound of Music were done on Broadway. That was also because we've had a golden age of galas on the Wharf so it seemed to relate. This year's we've lined up an amazing group of performers to do a concert of all these songs from that era.

This will mark the final time the Gala will be held on the Wharf. (Photo: Barry Gordin)

Perhaps the most exciting of all is that Jane Lynch is going to be our emcee and host for the evening. Of course, everyone knows Jane Lynch from Glee and from Best in Show, and she's a brilliant comedian and a wonderful singer. In addition to being our hilarious emcee, she's going to sing a song for us. We have great people like Robert Fairchild, who was the star of An American in Paris on Broadway and was one of the Principal Dancers of the New York City Ballet. He is going to be doing a number for us. We have so many great people! Richard Kind, the comedian and wonderful performer, is going to be our celebrity auctioneer again and is going to be doing a song. We have a great actress named Sarah Bowden who is from Australia, but I met her in Germany because she was the lead playing Esméralda in my production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She's now moved to the States and she's a fabulous dancer and showgirl as well as performer, so she's going to be singing Whatever Lola Wants from Damn Yankees." Howard McGillin who's a big star on Broadway, actually the longest Phantom on Phantom of the Opera ever. He's going to be singing a couple of songs. He was actually in Bay Street's production of My Fair Lady and Grey Gardens. A lovely young singer Phyre Hawkins is going to be singing a song for us. We also have a chorus performing and a big dance number. Joshua Bergasse, who is a star choreography - he was a choreography on the TV show Smash and he also choreographed the Tony Award nominated and winning revival of On the Town on Broadway - he's recreating his staging of the number New York, New York from On the Town. So there's going to be a huge number in part of our show.

Will this year's Gala feature anything new?

SS: I think this will be the biggest show we've ever done at our Gala. That's definitely new. We have a few tricks up our sleeve under the tent; we have some special effects under the tent that are going to be really amazing, wonderful auction items. I should also mention a brilliant writer Jonathon Tolins who wrote the comedy Buyer and Cellar - it was about a guy that worked for Barbra Streisand and it was a huge hit - and he writes for lots of TV shows, he's writing the show for us and I know it's going to be hilarious. That's new as well.

How will funding from the Gala impact the organization?

SS: It's extremely important to Bay Street. It's our biggest fundraiser of the year. We earn probably about 1/5 of all of the money we take in in a given year, somewhere around a 1/5, at our Gala. We are a non-for-profit organization, I know that not everyone knows that, but we are a non-profit, which means our ticket sales only covers less than half of our yearly expenses because all of our work is for the community, to build and support our community and partner with other local community groups. So the money from ticket sales, the auctions, and when folks are able to give donations specifically towards our education programs, and we do a lot of them, are a huge part of how Bay Street can be Bay Street and can continue to do the great work we do not only in the summer, but all year-round.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

SS: In addition to the dinner, and the auction and some of the performances outside, there's also dancing at the end of the evening on the Wharf.

Some Enchanted Evening: The Final Celebration on the Wharf commences at 5:30 p.m. Individual tickets are $1,500; $425 for young professionals (21 to 40-year-olds).

For more information, visit www.baystreet.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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