Celebrity Rosie O'Donnell is back on the Broadway scene. This past week she officially opened her performing arts center, the Maravel Arts Center. NY1's Donna Karger filed the following report.
With that snip of the ribbon, the Maravel Arts Center, the new home for Rosie's Broadway Kids, opened for business.
Rosie's Broadway Kids is a not-for- profit organization O'Donnell founded in 2003 to provide musical theater training to New York City public school children free of charge. At this new facility located on West 45 Street Rosie's kids will receive training in dance, music, and drama.
"It was just an old factory for sewing machines and we came and looked at it about four years ago when we knew that our program was taking off," she said. "We needed some space for the kids to rehearse and have lockers and maybe a homework station, a kitchen, shower -- basic essentials that some of them don't have in their homes because most of the kids that we serve live below the poverty level. And it's finally done and I'm thrilled. There's rehearsal space, dance studios, you know places for the kids to feel safe at home and loved."
It was an emotional evening of song and joyful tears as O'Donnell and her crew debuted the new space Broadway style – with performances.
The center is named for Pat Maravel, an elementary school teacher who O'Donnell said had a profound impact on her life.
"She taught me that the way that you help a kid in need is you love them back to life, one on one," she said. "It takes one person look in a kid's eyes and tell him, 'you're worth it.'" And then show up for them consistently."
"It's a pretty good feeling," said participant Daniel Estrella. "I was one of the pioneers, and it feels really good because Rosie always spoke about how she was going to get this done, this building , and it has finally opened. It's a second home and it's a place where everybody can come and feel like a family."
Broadway legend Chita Rivera, along with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, was on hand to support O'Donnell and her aspiring Broadway performers.
"To be able to do something like this in your lifetime, I'm about to cry," said Rivera. "Rosie's just amazing. She's determined to make sure that any child she can get a hold of, she can help give them a wonderful life, experience themselves, find out who they are, and give them the best teachers so their lives can be as fulfilled as possible."
"I'm just a big supporter of Rosie and her programs," added Quinn. "She and Rosie's Broadway Kids have done so much to add to New York City, arts and music education. It's just a wonderful program to make sure kids, regardless of their income, have the ability to have arts and music education in their lives."
And with O'Donnell's help, things sure look good for a new generation of Broadway hopefuls.