BRIDGEPORT—On December 2, at 7 pm, internationally acclaimed tenor Dennis McNeil will appear in the comfort of your home during a virtual fundraiser to benefit the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport. There’s no need to find something special to wear, consider the weather or, for parents, figure out who will watch the kids.
The school, which educates 800 girls and boys on the four campuses of Sts. Andrew, Ann, Augustine and Raphael, is tasked each year with raising more than $2 million to provide need-based scholarship to the 85 percent of students who cannot afford the annual tuition of $5,150.
“We are so grateful that Dennis has agreed to donate his time and incredible talent to this one-hour event, which will be broadcast free to viewers via Vimeo,” said Angela Pohlen, the Academy’s Executive Director. “It’s really once-in-a-lifetime to have an award-winning singer like Dennis perform your favorite Christmas songs live from his home in Redondo Beach, CA to your home, wherever that may be.”
While McNeil’s career took off at the Los Angeles Opera in 1988 and he has performed in much musical theater—including his role as Mr. Snow in “Carousel” more than 140 times, portraying Nikos to John Raitt’s “Zorba”—he is a versatile singer and has performed with the likes of Lionel Ritchie, Steve Miller, and the Grateful Dead, among countless others. He has sung for several U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices and Queen Elizabeth II. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once even accompanied him on piano. McNeil has recorded numerous albums, sung the National Anthem at many sporting events, been a featured performer honoring Medal of Honor recipients, and sang at the memorial service following the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
While it is unquestionable that Candy Canes & Cocktails is a major fundraiser for inner-city education, replacing an Annual Fall Dinner that could not be held due to Covid-19, Pohlen said she wants everyone to have the opportunity to watch regardless of their ability to pay. “There are hundreds of free tickets available in addition to standard tickets costing $50, and there are many sponsorship opportunities. With the kindness and support of people across Fairfield County and beyond, I am optimistic we can raise these much needed monies and keep inner-city education alive and thriving in Bridgeport.”