Honoring Laurie Walton

A flurry of bouncy blonde curls whisks by as Laurie enters the room. She may not be the tallest, but her physical presence nonetheless captures your attention.

This may explain part of why Laurie has had such an impact on the Riverdale Y. Many years ago, 18 to be exact, Laurie walked into the Riverdale Y and never left. From the day she started, she had a vision of creating a Performing Arts Center that would be a neighborhood treasure. She relished working with teens and youngsters whose lives could be changed by exposure to and involvement with the performing arts. This year, Laurie is entering her 18th year with the Riverdale Y, having created the Riverdale Rising Stars theater program and guided the Riverdale Performing Arts Center to its most recent pinnacle and planning to do more.

As a Jewish Community Center (JCC), it is fitting that The Riverdale Y is honoring Laurie in her 18th year. In Jewish tradition, the number 18 refers to the Hebrew word "Chai," which means life. (Think “L’Chaim” in Fiddler on the Roof--“To Life.”) It is auspicious to honor someone for achieving this milestone. When Laurie heard our plans, she understood why. “That makes sense. In fact, I think I’ve played Chava about 20 times. I get it!” Certainly Laurie has impacted the lives of so many young people who have been enriched by the the performing arts.  

The entire Walton family has been the backbone of Riverdale Rising Stars for 17 years. Emily and Alex raised the bar during their years in the teen program, not just with their talents, but with their integrity and commitment to a program they loved.  And Bob was the quiet force behind the music - with no compensation - but a steadfast dedication to seeing his wife succeed. Laurie has captivated and help mold the minds of many young people through the success of the Riverdale Rising Stars program (RRS).

Laurie has long been in the entertainment business. She worked as an actor regionally, on Broadway and on television. Notable credits include Showboat, Ruthless!, and a memorable guest starring role on Frasier. She also worked as a talent agent, opening the East Coast branch of Schiowitz/Clay/Rose (now known as Wolf Talent Group).

So here we are: 2018. To mark this year, our gala will include a performance of Guys and Dolls by Broadway actors and an 18-piece Broadway orchestra. We will see this year’s class perform, there will be cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres, raffle drawings (tickets will be available on-line and at the event), a special tribute to Laurie, and more to entertain you.

And all the while, Laurie will be honored for sharing this sweet little theater with the professionals gracing our stage at the event as well as the hundreds of young people that she has watched in awe as they developed talents, forged lifelong friendships, built self-confidence, and shared a simple, pure joy that began for them on this very stage.

As you would expect, Laurie will be acting in the performance. We hope, throughout the evening, she will also feel the love from all of her admirers, and enjoy appearing in yet another Broadway Gala performance that will set the standard for her next 18 years at the Riverdale Performing Arts Center.

Please join us in honoring Laurie by attending and generously supporting this very special Broadway Gala.