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State Theatre New Jersey


State Theatre Gala

State Theatre 2017 Benefit Gala was a Rousing Success!

On Saturday, May 13, 2017, State Theatre New Jersey celebrated yet another great year for the live performing arts in New Jersey at our 2017 Benefit Gala! The one-and-only Audra McDonald headlined this year’s event, brilliantly performing songs from Broadway and the Great American Songbook such as “Climb Every Mountain” and "When Did I Fall in Love."

At this year’s Gala we honored three incredibly deserving honorees for their support of the State Theatre and dedication to access to the live performing arts for all: American Benefits Consulting, Corporate Honoree; Brent and Susan Podlogar, Patron Honorees; and Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios and the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Leadership in the Arts Honorees.

Our annual Benefit Gala is the largest fundraiser we hold each season and the proceeds from this event support year-round arts education and outreach initiatives with our community, as well as incredible mainstage programming. This year’s Benefit Gala raised over $624,000, enabling us to continue providing these inspiring arts experiences. In addition to the outstanding Audra McDonald performance, guests who attended the full Gala event enjoyed a delicious dinner and Viennese dessert buffet, a Silent Auction that included over 70 incredible items, a Wine Pull that featured “Wines from Around the World” with wines ranging from $30-$225, and Club Christopher’s which included a posed photo station and dance music provided by the Gerard Carelli Orchestra.

Additionally, Audra McDonald made a guest appearance at the dinner, thanking our guests for being there and for being advocates and supporters of the live performing arts. She expressed, “I firmly believe that art, in all its reputations, keeps us connected to our humanity, and if we’re going to continue to grow as a nation, as a world, we need to stay connected to each other and our humanities...I wanted to reiterate my thanks and gratitude to you for doing what you can to make this world a better place.”

We echo Ms. McDonald’s sentiments and send our sincere thanks to each organization and individual that supported this year’s Gala by attending the event and performance, donating to our Silent Auction and Wine Pull, purchasing 50/50 tickets, and everything in between.

And finally, a heartfelt thanks and immense gratitude goes to the entire Benefit Gala Committee, this year’s Corporate Co-Chairs Shideh Sedgh Bina (Founding Partner, Insigniam) and Bradd M. Chignoli (Senior Vice President, MetLife), and the State Theatre New Jersey Board of Trustees for their incredible support and dedication to making this event a wonderful success. Photos by Jeffrey Auger.


American Benefits Consulting

Corporate Award

Susan and Brent Podlogar

Patron Award

Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios and the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Leadership in the Arts Award

Benefit Gala co-chairs

Scott Fergang, RBC Wealth Management
Barbra Fergang

Benefit Gala Vice-Chairs

Linda Piscadlo, Johnson & Johnson
Matt Taylor, Moody’s Investors Service
Tracy Taylor, Plymouth Rock Management Company of New Jersey

Corporate Co-Chair


Bradd M. Chignoli, Senior Vice President – National Accounts, MetLife


Shideh Sedgh Bina, Founding Partner, Insigniam


2017 Gala Committee

Dee Abedraboh
Lisa Berlin
Hiam Boraie
Meredith Bzdak
Michael Bzdak
Bradd M. Chignoli
Cathy Gombas
Craig Guiffre
Eileen Harkins
Bill Herman
Gabriel Lavigne

Richard T. McDonald
Donna Miyamoto
Karen Needham
John Reissner
Maggie Stavrianidis
Kateryna Synyak
Wendy Wiebalk
Melanie Willoughby
Jennifer Zimmer


Emerald Partners

American Benefits Consulting



diamond Partner



Joan and Bob Campbell


Platinum Partners

Ernst and Young


Susan and Brent Podlogar


The 2017 Benefit Gala Spotlight Journal — Published May 13, 2017

Photos from the 2017 Benefit Gala

Audra McDonald: State Theatre New Jersey Benefit Gala 2017

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