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Tony award winner honors his roots

Early inspiration led Altamont native toward theater fame

Leon Rothenberg, front row left, poses alongside his Tony award during a ceremony on Tuesday, July 30, honoring him for his achievement, along with his girlfriend, Jenny Slattery, and his mother, Carol, behind him. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, front row right, is joined by Altamont Mayor James M. Gaughan and State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk.

Leon Rothenberg, front row left, poses alongside his Tony award during a ceremony on Tuesday, July 30, honoring him for his achievement, along with his girlfriend, Jenny Slattery, and his mother, Carol, behind him. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, front row right, is joined by Altamont Mayor James M. Gaughan and State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk. Photo by John Purcell.

— Leon Rothenberg wanted to share his Tony award accolades with those who helped shaped him as an artist early on, so he come back home to honor his roots and mentors.

State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and Altamont Mayor James Gaughan honored Rothenberg, an Altamont native and Guilderland High School grad, on Tuesday, July 30, before the village’s summer concert performance at Orsini Park. Tkaczyk and McCoy presented Rothenberg with proclamations honoring his Tony award for Best Sound Design of a Play for “The Nance.” The award was also proudly displayed at the ceremony.

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Leon Rothenberg shares remarks during a ceremony on Tuesday, July 30, honoring him for receiving a Tony award for Best Sound Design of a Play for “The Nance” as Albany County Executive Dan McCoy listens.

At the ceremony Rothenberg pointed to how his interactions with teachers and faculty at Guilderland High School helped him achieve such an honor.

“I feel like it is incumbent upon me … to talk about how I got where I got to and draw a little bit of light on what I gained from this area,” Rothenberg said. “When I was in school … I had the pleasure of working with, learning from and collaborating with some pretty special teachers at Guilderland. Each of them contributed in fantastic ways to my own development.”

McCoy also stressed how much someone’s future is shaped by the school they attend, community they’re raised in and the encouragement from parents.

“Leon, for you putting Altamont on the stage and putting Albany County on the stage, it is just incredible,” McCoy said. “You look at a small journey, and it does start out at home.”

McCoy said Rothenberg showed that if “you stay determined and focused,” while enjoying what you do, a person can accomplish great things.

Fred Heitkamp, retired teacher and former theater director, said Rothenberg first was drawn to theater through sound mixing, so winning a Tony for sound design brought Rothenberg full-circle.

“He saw some things about it that he thought would be interesting if somebody could find a solution to them, and it is something that he has continued to work doing,” Heitkamp said.

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