Tickets to this event are currently SOLD OUT. Please call the Box Office at 732-255-0500 to inquire about Wait List options.
Gia Maione Prima Foundation Studio Theatre
Free, Advance Registration Required
MASKS ARE REQUIRED AT THIS PERFORMANCE AT THE REQUEST OF THE ARTISTS.
About the Show
Join us for an afternoon of dance dedicated to the music of Louis Prima and Gia Maione Prima. Featuring the world premiere of PRIMA! presented by Carolyn Dorfman Dance, as well as a performance by the OCC Dance Club and GPAA Dance students.
The show marks the dedication of the Gia Maione Prima Foundation Studio Theatre. Through the generous support of the Gia Maione Prima Foundation, the Gia Maione Prima Foundation Studio Theatre is a performance space that will assist the mission of the Gia Maione Prima Foundation to support and encourage an appreciation for American jazz, American popular music and jazz performance, as well as the fine arts.
Carolyn Dorfman Dance presents the world premiere of PRIMA!, commissioned by Ocean County College and the Gia Maione Prima Foundation. Carolyn Dorfman and Company celebrate the 5-decade career and range of the inimitable Louis Prima. Using full songs, including the iconic “Sing Sing Sing” and “Just A Gigolo/Ain’t Got Nobody and musical collage, Dorfman and her versatile and dynamic company explore the robust, driving and buoyant sound of Louis Prima and his band. Dorfman, too, features the powerful, virtuosic and expressive voices of Prima’s female lead singers, Gia Maione Prima and Keely Smith in such delights as “I Want You To Be My Baby,” and “Undecided”. It is the strength, nuance and playful, yet firm, dialogue and banter of these women with Prima, that inspires Dorfman most. A thrilling dance event 3 years in the making, PRIMA! will take you on a joyous ride through time, love, relationships, and connections.
OCC Dance Club
The OCC Dance Club, featuring the dance students of Ocean County College, will perform. Details to follow.
Grunin Performing Arts Academy
The Grunin Performing Arts Academy Dance students will perform a piece titled Clairvoyant; choreographed by Jessica Totaro.
Gia Maione Prima
Gia Maione Prima (“Gia”) was an American singer and widow of singer Louis Prima.
Gia was born May 20, 1941 in Roebling, New Jersey. From the early age of 3, she demonstrated both an interest and an aptitude for music. At age 4, she began 17 years of piano and extensive vocal training under Alma Steedman, Choir Director at Westminster Choir College at Princeton University.
Upon graduation in June 1959 from Toms River High in New Jersey, she received the National Arion Society Award in Music. With intent to attend Julliard School of Music in New York City, Gia worked at the local Howard Johnsons Restaurant to save money for the tuition and to continue her vocal and piano instruction.
Gia Maione Prima rose to popularity in 1962, when she was selected to sing lead female vocals for Louis Prima and his band, The Witnesses. Her rich voice was an ideal match for Prima’s rugged jazz riffs. The next 12 years were a whirlwind of live performances in Las Vegas at the Sahara Hotel, Sands Hotel, Tropicana Hotel; in New York at the Copacabana and Basin Street East and across the country. She also appeared regularly on television on such shows as Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin. She recorded for Capitol Records in 1962, and thereafter released her debut album – “This is Gia” in 1965.
On February 12, 1963, Gia married Louis Prima. Their union produced two children Lena and Louis Jr. She worked closely with Louis in creating the Prima Magnagroove record label in that same year. She and Louis recorded many classic albums and singles for their label from 1963 through 1975 which included 14 albums and numerous singles for Capitol Records, Disney Records, DeLite Label, Brunswick Records and Prima label. The couple performed and recorded together until Prima fell ill in 1975.
In October 1975, while undergoing an operation in Los Angeles to remove a benign brain tumor, Prima lapsed into a coma and never regained consciousness. He died nearly three years later on August 24, 1978. After Louis’ passing, Gia assumed control of the Prima archives, and managed his vast musical legacy. She dedicated herself to remastering and re-releasing Prima’s work. Among her other duties, Gia Prima handled the licensing of Prima’s work for television, film and advertising such as the very memorable use of “Jump, Jive and Wail” for the Gap Khakis Swing ads of the late 1990’s.
Professionally, Gia volunteered for many benefit charities and telethons and sponsored many golf tournaments to benefit charities. She was inducted in the Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame in 2004. She created the Louis Prima ASCAP Foundation Award and operated Prima Music, LLC, which released previously unavailable Prima titles. The company also operated www.louisprima.com and LGL Music Publishing Co.
In 2011, Gia Prima with the assistance of long-time friend and counsel, Anthony J. Sylvester of Sherman Wells Sylvester & Stamelman, LLP established the Gia Maione Prima Foundation, Inc. for the purpose of making donations to other tax-exempt organizations that support and encourage an appreciation for American Jazz, American popular music and jazz performance.
Gia Maione Prima died on September 23, 2013. She is buried alongside her husband Louis Prima at Lakelawn Metaireie Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana.
This event is made possible through the generous support of the Gia Maione Prima Foundation.