Broadway’s Best for Parkinson’s ~ It Takes A Village: Celebrating the Dark & Light of the Holidays Together




The winter holidays are a time when we celebrate light and illuminate the darkness. Anxiety, depression, and isolation can be heightened by Parkinson’s. On Wednesday, December 14, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan (MMJCCM) will present a free, holiday virtual event, Broadway’s Best for Parkinson’s: It Takes A Village: Celebrating the Dark & Light of the Holidays Together, which will guide attendees on how to celebrate the holiday and build a community to help combat these tendencies and continue to live a vibrant life.

Alessandro Di Rocco, M.D., director of neurology, Parkinson’s, and movement disorders at Northwell Health, and Caroline Kohles, MMJCCM senior program director, Health + Wellness, will lead the conversation, joined by Broadway musical director, arranger, actor, author, and person living with Parkinson’s, David Loud. During the program, David Loud also will engage in conversation with Broadway and television star Boyd Gaines, known for Tony Award-winning roles in The Heidi Chronicles, She Loves Me, Contact, and Gypsy, and share experiences from their life in the theater and their years of friendship, which now includes a shared journey with Parkinson’s.

Additionally, positive psychologist and author Maria Sirois will shed light on the science of building resilience as a tool for combating isolation tendencies, and Gloria Lebeaux, LCSW, and director of social work services at The Friedberg JCC on Long Island, will share expert advice and strategies for reaching out especially during the holidays to build your community.

“The holidays can be a bittersweet season: a time to come together with friends and family but also a moment filled with loneliness and depression, particularly when a person is experiencing health conditions such as Parkinson’s,” says MMJCCM senior program director of Health + Wellness Caroline Kohles. “We are pleased to continue our series where people can come together for an hour of reflection and celebration, filled with music, insight, and conversation. Our hope is that we can brighten up the holidays with positivity for people living with Parkinson’s.”

The virtual event is part of a groundbreaking JCC program founded 15 years ago to improve the lives of those impacted by Parkinson’s. The event begins at 6:00 PM EDT and is free, though prior registration is required. Register at Broadway’s Best for Parkinson’s. Registrants will receive a Zoom link to attend and will be able to engage with participants and submit questions during the hour.

Broadway’s Best for Parkinson’s is supported by a community grant from the Parkinson’s Foundation. Broadway’s Best for Parkinson’s is part of the Northwell Health Edmond J. Safra Wellness Initiative at the MMJCCM. The initiative helps improve the lives of those impacted by Parkinson’s. Through education, exercise, support groups, and other programs, and in collaboration with the medical and local communities, people impacted by Parkinson’s remain active, connected, and empowered.

About the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan (MMJCCM) ~ Together with its community, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan creates opportunities for people to connect, grow, and learn within an ever-changing Jewish landscape. Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the MMJCCM is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. It also presents a robust slate of virtual programming, serving an even wider community. The MMJCCM serves over 55,000 people annually through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants’ minds, bodies, and spirits. Throughout COVID-19, the MMJCCM has pivoted to meet the community online, exceeding 102,000 registrations to over 3,000 virtual classes and programs in the earliest part of the pandemic. Since its inception, the MMJCCM has been committed to serving the community by offering programs, classes, and events that extend beyond neighborhood boundaries, reaching people at all stages of their lives.

Bios of Co-Hosts and Participants (in alphabetical order)

Alessandro Di Rocco, MD, Director, Movement Disorders Program, Northwell Health

Professor of Neurology, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell and Medical Advisor to the Parkinson’s Wellness program at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan As a world-renowned leader in the field of Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders, Alessandro Di Rocco, M.D., has been the principal and co-investigator of numerous research studies, including National Institutes of Health and major national and international foundation-sponsored studies, having been awarded nearly two dozen grants to support his research efforts. Dr. Di Rocco sits on the Parkinson’s Foundation Board of Directors and the Melvin Yahr International Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, where he served as president for over eight years. Dr. Di Rocco also serves on many advisory boards and committees, including the World Federation of Neurology Congress on Parkinson’s Disease. He has authored over 90 articles, 12 books and book chapters, over 125 abstracts, and other publications.

Boyd Gaines holds the unique distinction of having won Broadway’s Tony Award four times and three of those were in a different category: in 1989 as Best Actor (Featured Role–Play) for Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles; in 1994 as Best Actor (Musical) for the revival of She Loves Me; in 2000 as Best Actor (Featured Role–Musical) for Contact; and in 2008 for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for the revival of Gypsy. No other actor has won Tony awards in these many categories. In addition to Broadway, he has performed with The New York Shakespeare Festival, the Roundabout Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, among many other regional theaters. His film and television credits include Fame, Porky’s, I’m Not Rapaport, and Funny Games, as well as numerous roles on L.A. Law, Murder She Wrote, Law & Order, Caroline in the City, and Frasier. Boyd is currently on the teaching faculty at the Manhattan School of Music.

Caroline Kohles is the senior director of health and wellness programming at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. In her 19 years at the MMJCCM, she has spearheaded a progressive slate of fitness programming, creating 100+ group fitness class schedules and health and wellness programs for populations ranging from tweens/teens to prenatal/postnatal moms and seniors. Her signature work includes developing a range of cancer care programs in partnership first with Mount Sinai Hospital and with Alison Estabrook, M.D., a nationally recognized breast cancer surgeon. A health and wellness professional for over 25 years, Kohles is co-founder of Nia New York, a holistic lifestyle and fitness practice. She also designed the nationally and internationally recognized Edmond J. Safra Parkinson’s program at the JCC, now in its 15th year, in partnership first with The Fresco Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center and now with Northwell Health.

Gloria Lebeaux, LCSW, is the director of social work services at the Barry and Florence Friedberg JCC in Oceanside, NY, and a trained psychotherapist providing consultation and individual and group counseling to adults and their families in her private practice. She is an adjunct professor at the Adelphi University School of Social Work and a field instructor for social work students. Gloria was the director of JASA’s Long Beach Senior Services, director of NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) Services at the Mid-Island Y JCC in Plainview, and the director of HomeShare Long Island at the Family and Children’s Association. She received her BS in social work from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and her master’s in social work from Columbia University. Gloria has a special interest in the fields of aging and bereavement and working with individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their families.

David Loud is one of Broadway’s most respected music directors and vocal arrangers, David also has the distinction of having originated three roles on Broadway as an actor. He served as music director for The Visit, starring Chita Rivera and Roger Rees; other Broadway credits include The Scottsboro Boys, Sondheim on Sondheim, Curtains, Ragtime, A Class Act, Steel Pier, and revivals of Porgy and Bess, She Loves Me, Company, and Sweeney Todd. He originated the role of Manny in Terrence McNally’s Master Class (starring Zoe Caldwell and Audra McDonald) and he played Sasha (the conductor) in Curtains. He made his Broadway debut in Harold Prince’s original 1981 production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along.

Off-Broadway, David created the vocal and dance arrangements for Kander and Ebb’s And the World Goes ‘Round.  At the Vineyard Theatre, he was the music supervisor for three world premieres: Kid Victory, The Landing, and The Beast in the Jungle, all with music by John Kander. He conducted the incidental music for Mike Nichols’ revival of Death of a Salesman and collaborated with Wynton Marsalis and John Doyle on A Bed and a Chair, a jazz interpretation of Sondheim’s music. He is a favorite at Lyrics and Lyricists, the long-running series at 92NY.

David is a graduate of Yale University and has been on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama and Fordham University. He is the music director of Manhattan School of Music’s new musical theater program, which he helped found in 2017. His book, Facing the Music, a Broadway memoir, was recently published by Regan Arts, a division of Simon & Schuster.

Maria Sirois is a master teacher, facilitator, and author. As a positive psychologist (Psy.D.) and international consultant, she focuses on the resilience of the human spirit when under pressure and/or during significant transition. Known for her wisdom, authenticity, and humor, Maria brings a depth of experience in stress management for corporate and nonprofit professionals alike, and specializes in resilience in the presence of illness and loss. She is the author of two books: A Short Course in Happiness After Loss and Every Day Counts.