HARTFORD — The school community at Burns Latino Studies Academy is trying to raise about $40,000 for upgrades to its auditorium, a campaign that will get some help Saturday from famous friends.
Actor-comedian John Leguizamo is scheduled to headline "A Night of Comedy" at the 450-seat school auditorium, which needs new stage curtains, lighting and a better sound system, organizers said. Proceeds from the $60-per-ticket event, planned for 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, will fund improvements.
Until a year and a half ago, the auditorium was mostly used as storage for broken school furniture, said Greg Secord, a community representative on Burns' School Governance Council.
The district has since replaced the seats at a cost of $79,278, a project that was completed last February, according to Hartford schools spokesman David Medina.
But Secord, one of the event organizers, said the auditorium still needs plenty of renovations: "It's usable now, but barely."
In October, the space was rededicated and named in honor of Griffin Dunne, an actor-producer-director from New York who is the great-grandson of school namesake Dominick F. Burns. Born in Ireland in 1857, Burns emigrated to the U.S. as a boy and eventually became a wealthy grocer in the city's Frog Hollow neighborhood.
Researching the school's history led Secord and Burns Principal Monica Brase to reach out and meet Dunne, who will serve as Saturday's master of ceremonies. Dunne recruited Leguizamo to volunteer his talents for the fundraiser, organizers said.
"We are excited and honored to have John Leguizamo perform at our school," Brase said in a statement. "We are also thankful for Griffin Dunne's involvement and belief in our school and community."
COMPASS Youth Collaborative, a nonprofit group that provides after-school programs and services to Burns families, has helped organize the event. As of Wednesday, about 180 tickets were still available.
Tickets for Saturday's show are sold online at http://leguizamoatburns.eventbrite.com/.