Inaugural Annual Event, 2019. Rex Smith, Editor and Vice President of the Times Union, kicked off the evening with eloquence and just a bit of magical inspiration. The stage was set for local readers, many of national and international recognition, to dramatically read from their works and inspire a packed audience of supporters at The Capital Repertory Theatre in downtown Albany.

Perhaps it can best be summed up in the words of Gregory Maguire, “Had a terrific night last night. The vibe in the room was very warm and nourishing! Thank you for your warm welcome to The Wizard’s Wardrobe and for giving me a chance to meet so many fine writers on stage—a few of whom I had met before, but not heard them read their work. It was a very rewarding evening.”

Leading in the cast of authors was Gregory Maguire, born and educated in Albany, the New York Times-bestselling author whose best-known work is WICKED, which inspired the blockbuster Broadway musical of the same name.

Joining him on stage was Frankie Y. Bailey, professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY) and author, co-author, or co-editor of a number of non-fiction and fiction books, including Wicked Albany: Lawlessness & Liquor in the Prohibition Era (2009) and Crimes of the Centuries (2016), Dijonnaye Daniels a young aspiring author and a contributor for the “New Scene” newspaper; James Preller, the author of many children’s books, including Bystander, named a 2009 Junior Library Guild Selection, and Six Innings, an ALA Notable Book; Barbara Smith, among the first to define an African American women’s literary tradition and build Black women’s studies and Black feminism in the United States, cofounder of the Black feminist Combahee River Collective and Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, the first national U. S. publisher for women of color and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, 2015; Marion Roach Smith, author, former staffer at The New York Times, commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered  whose newest book, The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life;Ted Walker, a self-published author who has written Waiting For You, Still Waiting For You and Kendra & Terrance; and Varun Mondaiyka and Ayah Osman from Children at the Well founded in 2006 to build community, grow leaders, and foster authentic relationships grounded in the celebration of differences by increasing the capacity for civil discourse through the sharing of stories.

Thanks to your support we raised over $12,000 to support the one-on-one, after-school literacy program at The Wizard’s Wardrobe. A special thank you is sent to honorary committee members, sponsors, donors, volunteers and theatre goers who made this success possible.

On behalf of all of us at The Wizard’s Wardrobe, thank you for being part of our inaugural Annual event — we look forward to seeing you next year!