This June 13, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan (MMJCCM) will raise the curtain on a special virtual health and wellness event—Broadway’s Best for Breast Cancer! The Healing Power of Music, featuring Broadway stars and health experts offering guidance to those experiencing health challenges or wishing to support friends and family members.
The free, virtual event takes place on Monday, June 13 at 6 p.m. ET and is beneficial for everyone but geared specifically to those living with or recovered from breast cancer. This special program is cosponsored by the MMJCCM and Dr. Alison Estabrook, a nationally recognized breast cancer surgeon and currently Professor of Surgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She was founder and chief of the Comprehensive Breast Center, Mount Sinai West, in New York City, and co-founder of Breastlink New York, an affiliate of Radnet. It is endorsed by MMJCCM community partners Sharsheret, The Nia Technique, and the American Cancer Society.
“People living with cancer need practices and tools to help with the fear and anxiety, and a bit of entertainment to distract them and keep them focused and positive,” says cohost Caroline Kohles, Senior Director of Health and Wellness programming at the MMJCCM. “While music cannot cure any type of disease, research has shown that it can help reduce anxiety, improve quality of life and reduce symptoms and side effects.”
“We want to help people who have been diagnosed with cancer reach into themselves and feel the power that their spirit has to keep them balanced,” says Dr. Alison Estabrook. “Music is one way to do this, and our guests will show you how.”
Register online for this free event in advance here.
The event is co-hosted by Caroline Kohles, Senior Director of Health and Wellness programming at the MMJCCM, and Broadway performer Beth Kirkpatrick (who also will sing one of her favorite Broadway numbers and a duet with Broadway veteran Michele Ragusa), and will feature appearances by Dr. Alison Estabrook and her colleague Gabriel Sara, M.D., Medical Director of the Infusion Suite at Mount Sinai West. A brilliant oncologist, Dr. Sara created The Helen Sawaya Fund to reframe clinical treatment for cancer and has partnered with The Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy at Mount Sinai to bring the healing power of music into the hospital to help those being treated for cancer.
Music therapist Christopher Pizzute, from The Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy, will open the show with a mindfulness music meditation, and demonstrate how music is used in all aspects of treatment. Viewers also can experience yoga with Whitney Chapman, accompanied by live harp music performed by breast cancer survivor Amy Camie.
Bios of Co-Hosts and Participants in alphabetical order:
Beth Kirkpatrick is a multi-talented performer based in New York City. She’s best known for understudying Madame Thenardier in Broadway’s ‘Les Miserables’ and the Original Cast Recording (and both original premieres) of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ as the Madam. She was recently seen playing Mrs. Gloop on the National Tour of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and understudying Betty Buckley as Dolly Levi in the National Tour of ‘Hello, Dolly’. Tours with ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ (as the Mother Abbess) are a testament to her classical training. But this one-time aspiring opera singer is equally at home winning a Cincinnati Entertainment Award while belting “I Just Wanna Dance” as Shawntel/Eve in ‘Jerry Springer: the Opera”. She has a passion for new musicals and has been collaborating with the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program for over 12 years. Concert work includes her hit show ‘Beth Kirkpatrick: The Big Gay Setup’ and a one-woman show entitled ‘The Broads of Broadway’ along with performances with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra and the Blue Ash Montgomery Symphony Orchestra.
Caroline Kohles is the Senior Director of Health and Wellness Programming at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. In her 17 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 MMJCCM, now in its 15th year, in partnership first with The Fresco Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center and now with Northwell Health.
Guests (in alphabetical order):
Amy Camie, “The Healing Harpist,” is a Certified Clinical Musician, Professional & Therapeutic Harpist, Speaker, Recording Artist, Author, Educator, and Co-Initiator of The ORIGIN Methodology of Self-Discovery. For the past 25 years, Amy has been active in the sound healing community with several studies indicating how her solo harp music increases brainwave function, supports the immune system, and reduces pain and anxiety levels. In unique and empowering keynotes and presentations, Amy loves combining therapeutic music, a clear understanding of vibrational resonance, and Life Lessons learned during her 2 journeys with breast cancer to expand perceptions of self-care, self-discovery, and self-expression.
Whitney Chapman is an integrative fitness professional, for over 35 years, who utilizes a wide variety of practices focusing on the mind/body connection. Her background has spanned group exercise, Interdisciplinary Yoga™, Pilates Mat, Reiki, Meditation, and the MELT Method as well as a certificate in Positive Psychology. She has trained to work with people living with cancer, Parkinson’s, and Cardiac Rehabilitation. In 2021 she launched Wellness with Whitney, (www.whitneychapman.com) an online platform for sharing her teachings. She currently teaches for Equinox, the MMJCCM and serves as the Programming and Production Coordinator for the Parkinson’s Wellness Program at the MMJCCM.
Alison Estabrook, MD, is recognized as a Top Doctor by many national associations over her extensive career, and is a founding breast cancer specialist for Breastlink New York, a comprehensive total breast cancer care practice in Manhattan. She was founder and chief of the Comprehensive Breast Center, Mount Sinai West, in New York City, and co-founder of Breastlink New York, an affiliate of Radnet.
Christopher Pizzute, MA, MT-BC, LCAT-LP is a music therapist at the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine who works in inpatient oncology and chemotherapy and radiation oncology at Mount Sinai West. He received his Master’s in music therapy from Montclair State University and his Bachelor’s degree in music composition/music theory. His areas of expertise extend to palliative, psychiatric, neurology, pediatric, and neonatal care. A songwriter, artist, and video game culture enthusiast, he incorporates songwriting and clinical music improvisation in his interventions for patients. His research includes study of music therapy in stroke patients with aphasia and in adults receiving mechanical ventilation on the MICU (medical intensive care unit).
Michele Ragusa made her Broadway debut in the 1993 original cast of ‘Cyrano: The Musical’ as The Novice. She went on to be featured in the original Broadway cast of ‘Titanic’ as Caroline, followed by the Broadway productions of ‘Ragtime’ as Evelyn Nesbit, Mona in ‘A Class Act’, and covering Penny and Hope in ‘Urinetown’. Ragusa came into the starring role of Elizabeth in ‘Young Frankenstein’ on Broadway. She most recently starred in ‘Flying Over Sunset’ on Broadway and will soon appear in ‘The Butcher Boy’ at the Irish Repertory Theatre.
Ragusa played Corinna in the premiere of ‘Adrift In Macao’, and won a Barrymore Award for Excellence in Theatre, as well as nominations for Drama League and Lucille Lortel awards. She has appeared on television in a recurring role in ‘Happyish’, and in ‘Law and Order SVU’, ‘One Life to Live’, ‘Guiding Light’, and ‘All My Children’. She also has sung with major symphony orchestras, including Kansas City Symphony, Oklahoma City Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Chattanooga Symphony and Opera.
Gabriel A. Sara, MD, is a Senior Attending Physician in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai West (former Roosevelt Hospital) where he serves as the Medical Director of the Chemotherapy Suite. In addition, he is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Gabriel received his early medical training in Beirut, Lebanon, and his Doctorate of Medicine in Paris, France. In 1981, He moved to New York and completed his residency in Internal Medicine and then a fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology. He is triple-board certified in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology.
He has been cited in several yearly publications: the Castle Connolly directory “Top Doctors: New York Metro Area”, the New York Times “Super Doctors” yearly edition, and the New York Magazine yearly list of “Best Doctors in Oncology”. He was the recipient of the 2004 Wholeness of Life award for St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center. In 2014, he was the recipient of the Listener of the Year award from the International Listening Association (http://www.listen.org/listeneryear).
In 2015, he was the recipient of the What a Wonderful World Award from the Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine for his contribution of the advancement of Music in the world of Medicine. In 2005, along with his close friend Fuad Sawaya and in memory of Fuad’s late wife Helen, Gabriel co-founded the Helen Sawaya Fund, a philanthropy program whose mission is to enhance the experience of cancer patients through art, music, reflexology, a travel program and more. Additionally, along with his wife, Nada Sara, and other JAUS members, he was a co-founder of the Jamhour Alumni US and serves presently as the chairman of the board of JAUS. Since 2003, he has led a program for coaching nurses and physicians about resilience in the workplace with a popular monthly meeting that was eventually written up in the Wall Street Journal as a model of Training Doctors to manage their feelings. This program was instrumental in the emotional and psychological support of the staff of his hospital during the traumatic experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 JCC 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 JCC 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 JCC 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 JCC 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.