GALA Hispanic Theatre Recognizes Latino Contributions to the Arts in Annual Paso Nuevo Benefit

On the heels of its impressive 9-award win at last week’s Helen Hayes Awards, GALA Hispanic Theatre hosted its annual Night of the Stars gala this week at the Organization of American States.

The annual event raises funds for Paso Nuevo, GALA’s free, after-school theater workshop for low-income, immigrant students aged 12-19. Students from Paso Nuevo performed and Paso Nuevo Director of Education Mauricio Pita reminded patrons of the positive effects of safe after-school activities and exposure to the arts.

Left to right. Craig Pascal, Victor Shargai, and GALA's Abel López. Photo by Stan Weinstein.
Left to right. Craig Pascal, Victor Shargai, and GALA’s Abel López. Photo by Stan Weinstein.

GALA’s annual event also recognizes achievements by notable DC leaders who support and foster opportunities for Latinos in the arts.

The 2018 gala recognized the work of Ana Recio Harvey, former CEO of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Arts and Business, Craig Pascal and Victor Shargai for Service to the Arts and Philanthropy, and Luis Salgado for Artistic Excellence and Inspiration.

Shargai, whose long career supporting Washington, DC theater includes his role as founding chair of theatreWashington, told DC Theater Arts what this award means to him and husband Craig Pascal: “Craig and I have both followed the growth of GALA Hispanic Theatre for many years. I found them when they were performing at Sacred Heart. They had me hooked for the magic they created on less than a shoestring budget. Their work is now lauded by the international Latino community. How honored we are to receive their Service to the Arts Award.”

Luis Salgado, fresh off his Helen Hayes wins for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Choreography of a Musical for GALA’s In the Heights en español, closed out the evening with a rousing speech reminding the audience of the importance of providing positive role models as Latinos.

Luis Salgado (center) proudly accepts the honor from GALA's Artistic Director Hugo Medrano (right). Photo by Stan Weinstein.
Luis Salgado (center) proudly accepts the honor from GALA’s Artistic Director Hugo Medrano (right). Photo by Stan Weinstein.

A native of Puerto Rico, Salgado’s career dates back to the 2005 musical Mambo Kings. As described by GALA Artistic Director Hugo Medrano, When Mambo Kings was slated to move to Broadway, critics complained that the show would never make it because it was “full of Latinos.”

Flash forward thirteen years and Salgado has since appeared on Broadway in the original Broadway company of In the Heights (he was also assistant Latin choreographer) and On Your Feet!, two shows that featured full Latino casts and achieved great acclaim and box-office success.

I asked Salgado what it meant to him for his work to be recognized in Washington, DC. “It feels very good to be recognized as Latinos simply for being who we are. We have a dual responsibility as Latinos to stand tall and proud and be sure that what we say has value, depth, and purpose.”

In his acceptance speech, Salgado announced that he would be returning to GALA next season to direct FAME the Musical, the popular show conceived and developed by Latino artist David De Silva.

GALA Hispanic Theatre’s full 2018-2019 season can be found here.

More information on Gala Hispanic Theatre’s Paso Nuevo youth program can be found here.


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