By: Isa Goldberg
The Broadway Wall of Fame at Tony’s di Napoli Restaurant- a gallery of celebrity portraits by artist Dan May – just received a new addition. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Phantom of the Opera, Broadway’s longest running show, May’s portrait of the half masked Phantom (Hugh Panaro) and the woman he loves (Samantha Hill) is an ideal subject for May, whose work blends the surreal and the mysterious.
Unfurled at the popular theater district eatery on April 3rd, the portrait, with its rich texture and flowing lines, captures the dark emotional bond between Panaro as the Phantom and Samantha Hill (Christine) who makes her Broadway debut in this enormous role. Anyone would be awed by such an overwhelming entrée to the Broadway stage, but Hill was relaxed – clearly enjoying herself at the celebration for May’s evocative new work.|
The Broadway Wall of Fame, a project helmed by Valerie Smaldone and Brian Dimpflmair, is more than just a magnet for the theater crowd, it also supports the restaurant’s charitable mission. Posters of May’s portraits are given to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids which sells them to raise money for the organization and the people it serves. The restaurant’s charity-minded owners also give free food to Broadway Barks and to the Ronald McDonald House which provides free housing for families of children who are here for pediatric cancer care.
Valerie Smaldone met Hugh Panaro while visiting a mutual friend in Southern Italy in the port town of Bari, amidst orchards and fig trees. Panaro, who was there to take care of his elderly father, loved the idea of a painting by May. And so will you when you see it there, on the Broadway Wall of Fame, a tribute to an iconic musical.
Photos By Maryann Lopinto
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