An aspiring recording artist whose first single is available on iTunes is committing his talents to help lift the spirits of attendees at this year’s Newtown Relay For Life. Gregori Lukas, also an accomplished dancer and actor, has committed to donating all April and May proceeds from the sale of his single, “Stay,” on the iTunes digital music service to benefit this year’s tenth Newtown Relay.
He will also take to the stage at this year’s event, set for Saturday, May 31, at Newtown High School’s Blue & Gold Stadium, to sing that number live as one of the 2014 Relay’s featured entertainers.
Mr Lukas was first introduced to the Newtown Relay by longtime volunteer Michelle Babyak. He is the latest celebrity performer to grace the local awareness and fundraising activity, joining Connecticut-based artist and star of The Voice Javier Colon, who performed at two previous Relays.
Mr Colon has also been invited to return to celebrate this year’s milestone relay, but has not yet confirmed his attendance.
The 24-year-old artist born Gregory Lucas Malek-Jones has, according to his bio, appeared with the New York City Ballet in numerous productions and was best known for playing the title role in George Balanchine’s Nutcracker at New York State Theater.
Mr Lukas attended the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City, where he studied musical theater and dance. While in attendance at the school, he was nominated for the New Jersey Theater Alliance’s NJACT Perry Award for Best Male Ensemble Actor in a Musical for his role in Montclair Operetta Club’s Children of Eden.
He also attended the School of American Ballet in Lincoln Center, from 2001 to 2007. During his term with the School Of American Ballet he performed in various shows with New York City Ballet, including Harlequinade, Swan Lake, Vienna Waltzes, Sleeping Beauty and the aforementioned Nutcracker.
Mr Lukas starred in the independent film adaptation of Tap Dreams, directed by Anthony Giordano, and appeared with the Paper Mill Playhouse in various theater productions such as The King And I and Carousel. He also sang alongside Tony Award winner Ben Vereen for the “New Voices” concert in April 2003.
In 2005, he appeared with New York City’s Camp Broadway with Melissa & Joey star Joey Lawrence in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade singing “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.” In February 2010, Mr Lukas formed the pop music duo Closet Boys and digitally released their debut single, “I Wanna Go,” worldwide.
He has been training with renowned vocal/piano coach Boris Buriev since 2009, and is currently recording his debut album with Israeli producer/composer Tomer Adaddi.
The 2014 Newtown Relay For Life will kick off with a special Survivors Lap immediately following the opening ceremony at 6 pm, a moving experience honoring those who have defeated cancer. For this first special lap, survivors along with their caregivers walk together, unified in victory and hope, while the rest of the event’s participants surround the track to cheer them on.
The world’s largest grassroots fundraising movement, Relay For Life mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and provide participants with an opportunity to fight back against the disease.
Relay For Life events are held overnight as individuals and teams camp out at an athletic track with the goal of keeping at least one team member on the track at all times. Teams do most of their fundraising prior to the event, but some teams also hold creative fundraisers at their event campsites. As of May 7, 41 teams — totaling 335 participants — had registered online for Newtown’s event. Fundraising had surpassed $61,000.
The event is open to the general public until midnight. There is no charge to attend Relay For Life.
Members of the 2014 Relay For Life of Newtown committee include Chris Farrington, Michelle Babyak, Lynda Russo, Cheryl Jablonowski, John Moore, Jim Zarifis, Michelle Zarifis, Gina Long, Matt Barra, Brian Gregory, Lynn Wiener, and Helen Brickfield.
Cancer survivors or caregivers who would like to take part in the Relay For Life of Newtown and related caregiver and survivors’ activities should call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit relayforlife.org/newtownct.
Preview the single “Stay” and learn more about Mr Lukas by visiting gregorilukas.com. This report was updated May 13 to clarify Mr Lukas' donation of iTunes proceeds.