Stars to Shine on Fremont Stage

By Sandhya Somashekhar
The Argus – May 25, 2001

Getting to Broadway seemed a little far-fetched for four local young performers, so Broadway is coming to them.

On Sunday, Kristin Stokes, 15, Courtney Stokes, 12, Mekala Raman, 12, and Karen Joshi, 10, will sing alongside Tony Galde — a former Bay Area resident who lives in New York and performs regularly on Broadway.

A Night on Broadway is a fund-raiser for Star Struck Productions, a local children’s theater group, and Broadway West, an affiliated community theater group.

Galde suggested participating in a community fund-raiser to his mother, Mary Galde, who performs with Broadway West. Director Lori Stokes, mother of two of Sunday’s performers, jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s going to be a really great night,” she said. “I don’t think I realized how great until Wednesday when I heard Tony sing.”

Galde participates in children’s theater benefits on the East Coast. He said he is interested in raising money for youth theater programs because, in his  experience, schools no longer offer the range of opportunities he enjoyed as a student at Independence High School in San Jose.

“Growing up, being an artistic person and not entirely understood by my peers, the theater is how I survived my young life,” he said before a rehearsal for Sunday’s performance. “Without it, my schooling would have been very difficult.”

Two other performing arts professionals — Barbara Divis, a former Opera San Jose soprano, and Esther Ammon, an actor with the Paper Bag Players in New York — will join Galde and the girls on stage Sunday.

“When I first found out he was on Broadway and stuff, and I was going to be singing, I was like, ‘Wow,'” Joshi said. “But when I found out the others were going to be singing, too, I was even more proud.”

Raman, who sang the national anthem last year for the Fremont City Council, said she’s also proud, but most of all, singing with professionals will be fun.

“I’m honored to have been invited, and I just want to enjoy the experience,” she said.

The benefit will feature joint and solo performances of work by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Steven Sondheim and others.