Rosenstock Honored At QTiP Gala
The 2011Queens Theatre in the Park (QTiP) Gala paid special honor to Jeffrey Rosenstock, who in the late 1980s took a closed and neglected theater that had been built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair and began to transform it into a living showplace. Rosenstock recently retired as executive director of QTiP, which was described by his successor, Ray Cullom, as “The House that Jeff Rosenstock Built”. Cullom made that declaration as he opened the gala ceremony on the stage of the theater, where the law firm Farrell Fritz was also honored for its long association with QTiP. In addition to the honors, Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show, a reenactment of the Las Vegas revues of 50 years ago that featured Frank Sinatra and friends, was the evening’s entertainment.
QTiP President Frances A. Resheske and Board Member Louis Vlahos helped Cullom start the ceremonies. Vlahos is a tax attorney for Farrell Fritz, the Long Island law firm that was honored in the awards ceremony for being what the attorney called “pro bono counselor to Queens Theatre in the Park” for nearly a decade. Vlahos added that Farrell Fritz has a solid community commitment. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall took the stage to say that more than $10 million in capital funds has gone to the theater during her tenure. “It’s money well spent,” she said, before praising her predecessor, Claire Shulman, who was present in the audience. Shulman was borough president when QTiP was begun and backed its growth steadily. She received exceptional applause in response to Marshall’s citation. A representative of state Senator Jose Peralta presented a framed proclamation to Rosenstock, who came to the stage to accept it. A City Council proclamation was presented to Rosenstock by Councilmembers Mark Weprin and Elizabeth Crowley. Weprin said Rosenstock had a knack of seeming to plaintively plead for funding when in fact he was quite firmly demanding. The councilmember called the framed proclamation “a minor token” for all the good work Rosenstock has done. Crowley said she was a schoolgirl when the theater was opened and to this day appreciates the “first look” at theatrics that it provides to many young students.
Resheske praised the way Rosenstock sought to reopen an abandoned World’s Fair relic and the way Shulman saw to a $27 million expansion project and a $2 million capital campaign. The theater president presented Rosenstock with a photo mosaic of significant events occurring at the theater during his tenure, and sustained applause accompanied his accepting it.
Rosenstock said that Shulman wanted a professional theater that had “a simple public function: to be open 365 days a year and be on every refrigerator”. He was dedicated to entertainment, instruction and challenge during more than two decades in charge. He noted that sometimes he risked alienating conservative theatergoers, but even that could turn out right. After an event by Bill T. Jones, a decidedly modern dancer, one patron approached Rosenstock to tell him: “I didn’t like it, but it was good.”
In order to get the theater started, Rosenstock said, he and his wife did anything and everything there was to do, from mopping floors to running concession stands. In moving on to Queens College, as he is now doing, he said he is seeking “a new cultural vision for Queens”. His summed up his career at the theater by telling the audience that he once told his father, a psychologist, that they had similar practices. “We are both trying to touch the souls of those who come to us,” he said.