JUNE 2012 Issue â&#x20AC;˘ 205
P E E BL
THe Broadway Inspirational voices - juan lerma jonathan d. lovitz - paste - broadway servesBLEEP 1
n i p e ble inside
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ON THE COVER The only show in New York with a standing ovation after nearly every song, the Broadway Inspirational Voices are taking on the issue of keeping music in schools and making the spirit of their music accessible to everyone. PASTE Jason Lauritsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; line, Paste, is hitting stores and his fresh designs will keep you looking and feeling great this summer. Not only that, but he takes issue with the concept of quantity over quality.
AN ACTOR’S LIFE
A DIGNIFIED LIFE
THE BLEEP QUIZ
You may recognize him from TV or the red carpet, but Jonathan D. Lovitz is more than an actor. He’s an activist taking on the issue of equality head-on.
Dwell With Dignity is going to change the way you think about how interior design can change a life. This is a truly amazing story of how a designer is taking on the issue of homelessness.
A very special BLEEP Quiz featuring the author of our ‘Creative Pages’ reviewed book, “Gay Conversations with God.”
Letter from the Editor It’s been a true honor to put this issue together. As a magazine, we try to keep the focus on the art the artists are creating, but what happens when art meets action? It’s at that intersection where you’ll find so many of our artists with “issues.” Not only are they impressively talented people, but their hearts are even more impressive. Being able to facilitate their stories has been a privilege. My story isn’t all that different from the story that Montego Glover tells in our cover article about the Broadway Inspirational Voices. I had recently moved to New York from Dallas, far from all I’d ever known, and it was at a BIV concert that I not only had the musical experience of a lifetime, but I felt completely at home and knew I was right where I was supposed to be. The music I loved so deeply, the spirit I felt so strongly and the start of a new season in my life all lined up. So for me, having BIV on the cover means the world to me, and being able to spend just a little time with them this month was a fullcircle moment I couldn’t have even dreamed about. This is a deeply personal issue of BLEEP for me. As someone that fully understands the emotional toll being bullied takes on you, I stand with Jonathan D. Lovitz as he takes a stand for kids who feel they are unable to for themselves. As someone whose heart breaks as people are treated unequally on basis of their race, social status or appearance, I stand with Broadway Serves as they stand in the gap and use their platform for change. And as someone who lives by faith but also wants to see unity among different beliefs, creeds and denominational divides, I stand with the Broadway Inspirational Voices as they continue to pave the way to peace through gospel music. I’m amazed by these people and can say assembling this issue has not only a labor of love, but has filled me with hope. A hope that there will continue to be artists out there who care more about being the change they hope to see in the world than they care about being a celebrity, a hope that art can actually make a difference in the lives of those who experience it, and a hope that “All men are created equal” will actually mean that one day.
Ryan Brinson Editor-in-Chief 4 BLEEP
ITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S TONY TIME
A NEW ATTITUDE
To talk about the year in Broadway theatre, we went straight to the best. Our friend Scott Harrah from Stagezine.com relives the highs and lows of the season.
Juan Lerma is more than a stylist. He elevates the work of both the photographer and the model while fulfilling his dream at the same time.
SERVING UP SOMETHING NEW
Broadway Serves! is a brand new service organization that is looking to mobilize the Broadway community to take on issues of social justice and volunteerism.
BLEEP writer Charly Edsitty takes a chance on a trip to Costa Rica and learns a little something about vida.
Jesus Christ Superstar by Tyler Ellis
Another Ben Humeniuk cartoon!
Editor-in-Chief Ryan Brinson Editor at Large Julie Freeman Design/Decor Editor Lisa Sorenson • Culture Editor Rachael Mariboho Business & Audience Development Manager Sarah Rotker Cartoonist Ben Humeniuk • Social Media Team: Jessica Acklen Cover Photography by Ryan Brinson Contributors: Danielle Milam • Matt Hach • Charly Edsitty • Amy Stone Holly Renner • Colton Scally Featured Photographers: Matt Hach All articles and photos are the property of the writers and artists. All rights reserved.
P E E L bliPs B judge me paris
cookie heaven in hell’s kitchen
Last fall, we told you the story of Zachary Schmahl and his (then) online cookie company, Schmackary’s. In a true dreamscome-true story, Schmackary’s just opened its first storefront location in New York. Located at 45th Street and 9th Avenue, it’s become the go-to place for sweets and treats. And it’s not just cookies either. Make sure you stop in and get an iced coffee to cool off your hot summer afternoons. Schmackary’s is featuring Kobrick’s Coffee and it’s the perfect accessory to that Oatmeal Scotchie or Red Velvet cookie you’re going to demolish. Run, don’t walk (gotta burn the calories you’re about to eat right?) to the corner of 45th Street and 9th Avenue in New York. It’s the perfect place to go before (and after) you see that Broadway show.
This is what I knew about “Judge Me Paris” when I went out to Brooklyn to see it: it’s a Baroque Burlesque Opera. While it lived up to that description, I’m afraid there are not enough words to describe the art that is emerging from Company XIV. Not only is it a stunning performance of dance and music, but it’s compelling in a way that left me feeling creatively fulfilled long after we’d left Brooklyn. Directed and choreographed by Austin McCormick, “Judge Me Paris” features not only the incredibly talented Company XIV dancers, (Sean Gannon should be mentioned here for both his capable and gorgeous dancing as well as for anchoring the movement on stage for the rest of the great cast) but also features music from the Morningside Opera and SIREN Baroque. The sets are minimal but striking, the use of lighting is better than some Broadway shows I’ve seen and the costumes are barelythere-beauties. Mr. McCormick has fused all of these elements together to create a feast for both the ears and the eyes. Yet, the most surprising element of the performance wasn’t the dancing
or the burlesque elements that made this mythological Greek story come to life in a new way. Theatre companies and performance troupes are perpetually grappling with how to incorporate video into their stages shows. Some are more successful than others, but in “Judge Me Paris,” the video projection element not only works, but works in such a surprising way that doesn’t tilt into becoming over-wrought. It was the first thing I said to my colleague when we left the theatre. “I did not see that coming.” Judge Me Paris played a limited engagement at the 303 Bond Street Theatre in Brooklyn. Check out their website www.CompanyXIV.com to stay up to date on upcoming shows and look for our feature on the company in our August issue! Photo by Corey Tatarczuk
Gay Conversations with God by James Alexander Langteaux Danielle Milam 5 out of 5 Signs for Peace “…this bold journey of living in transparency and in truth…” James Alexander Langteaux Gay Conversations with God is, hands down, the most inspirational and creative book I’ve read all year. Don’t let the title turn you away because gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, alien or Muppet, this story is intended for you. Not being a gay man, I thought, ‘How am I going to be able to relate to this guy’s story?’ That concern was quelled in the first 20 pages. Even though homosexuality isn’t something I face personally in my life, Langteaux has a way of convincing the reader that this book is written specifically to them. I felt like I had been handed my best friend’s personal journal and told to jump right in to their most intimate and private thoughts. So I jumped in and shared an amazing journey of truth, love and God through a transparently written life. Langteaux’s style is disarming. The way he uses words as a medium for emotion and truth is a rare gift. Most unexpected, he is uncomfortably honest about himself and his own insecurities. This brutal honesty about himself and those around him drew me closer to his narrative. I couldn’t relate to
being homosexual but I sure could relate to wanting to feel loved, feeling ostracized, or misunderstood. Most of the book is written almost in free-verse with some rhyme. It reads with a rap beat and a Seussical flair. His propensity for rhyme helps to lighten the mood of an awfully serious subject. Then again, it also perfectly accentuates the hard truths. Creatively, Langteaux shines in the Finale (as he refers to it) of the book. He pairs the incredible message of God’s forgiveness for all people with the musical “Les Miserables.” He weaves the song titles in and out (encouraging the reader to hum along) of this powerful message of redemption and love, which flows perfectly with the musical itself. I long to hear Langteaux voice read this chapter with the music accompaniment. The way he combines music, meaning and text to evoke an understanding in the reader is pure creative genius. Yes, this is a book about being gay. Yes, this is a book about religion and God. No, it is not at all what you think it is. This is the story of one man who is sharing the truth about God’s judgment, forgiveness and love through his own perspective. He is sharing his creative gift with us to make a difference in people’s lives and he invites us all to share this experience with him. Will you be offended? Most likely yes. Will you be uncomfortable at times? Certainly. Is it worth reading? Most unequivocally, YES! Must Read For: Anyone living an “alternative” lifestyle, Christians, anyone seeking truth. Want more book reviews? Check out www.daniellesviews.blogspot.com
Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more BLEEPing than just in the mag. Check out www.bleepmag.com for past issues and find us on Facebook and Twitter.
www.redpenguingallery.com BLEEP 11
TONY By Scott Harrah
t has been a busy theater season on Broadway, with at least 12 shows opening in April alone. The 2011-2012 season will be remembered as the Year of the Revival, with too many to count (particularly cherished old musicals) opening. Some were great, while others were simply mediocre. Besides all the revivals, the season was especially unique thanks to a large number of new faces on The Great White Way (as well as many established stars). This reviewer, as a general rule, does not make Tony predictions, and this article is by no means a list of picks for best bets. However, there are number of great shows and actors, all of whom have a good shot at taking home the coveted Tony on June 10, 2012. Let’s start out with some of the outstanding actors that gave memorable performances and earned Tony nominations.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Of the five actors nominated in this category, there
Illustrations by Tyler Ellis
are two standouts: newcomer James Corden, the British thespian who made the UK import One Man, Two Guvnors such a delight; and the venerable James Earl Jones, for his trenchant portrayal of a former president in the star-studded revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. One Man, Two Guvnors, is based on Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, an Italian play that was written in 1746 and updated to 1963 by Richard Bean; Mr. Bean tweaked the storyline, set it in Brighton, England, and used every form of comedy devised by man. In every scene in which Mr. Corden appears, he is mesmerizing, and despite the show’s insider British humor, one does not need to be an Anglophile to get all Peter and the Starcatcher the jokes because this gifted actor’s razor-sharp delivery of dialogue and zany slapstick keeps American audiences in proverbial stitches. James Earl Jones needs no introduction. He is one of America’s finest actors of all time. In Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, a revival of the 1960 political drama,
Mr. Jones is sublime. Playing former president Arthur Hockstader, Mr. Jones has lots of fun with his role, much to the delight of audiences.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
In Other Desert Cities, Stockard Channing gives one of the finest performances of her career as the matriarch of a prominent Republican political family in California. Ms. Channing plays Polly, an ex TV writer, and she spends her golden years in the Palm Beach desert going to the country club, attending GOP fundraisers, and dropping names like Nancy Reagan and Mrs. Pat Buckley. In virtually every scene, Ms. Channing is often hilarious, but touching and caustic in all the right places. British actress Tracie Bennett has one of the toughest jobs on Broadway this year: bringing the late American icon Judy Garland to life in the UK import bio-drama, End of the Rainbow (a show that was an unflattering portrait of the troubled legend). As I wrote in my review, “Miss Bennett gives a riveting performance loaded with exhausting energy, and she often transcends the middling material she’s been handed and makes it work by keeping her interpretation of Judy from being more than a grotesque caricature. This is no easy task because the play paints the aging singer/actress as an unsympathetic monster fueled by her addiction to booze, pills, and the attention her erratic behavior creates. One leaves the theater emotionally drained, exhilarated, and overwhelmed by Miss Bennett’s ambitious efforts.” The play itself did not do Miss Garland justice, but Miss Bennett certainly did.
Best Performance by an Actor revival of Sondheim’s Follies. As Buddy, the husband in a Leading Role in a Musical of Sally Durant Plummer (the legendary Bernadette Let’s start with Jeremy Jordan in Newsies. Mr. Jordan had the misfortune of being in the ill-fated “Bonnie and Clyde” musical in late 2011, but he more than redeemed himself in Newsies. StageZine’s David NouNou wrote in his review of Newsies, “He is now in the smash-hit musical of 2012. With his big voice and charismatic charm, Mr. Jordan has a unique way of filling the stage, and for that reason alone, he will become a Broadway staple as a leading man for years to come.” Mr. Jordan certainly helps carry the show with his energy and bold vocals in this spectacular musical, a retelling of newsboys on strike circa 1899. Danny Burstein was equally powerful in the brilliant
Peters), Mr. Burstein played a troubled husband and traveling salesman, having an affair. His performance was fraught with the right amount of tension for a man whose marriage is unraveling, and his rendition of “Buddy’s Blues,” the song that captures all his frustration, was simply top-notch.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jan Maxwell, no stranger to the Broadway stage, surprised us all with just how good she is as both a singer and actress in Follies. Dressed to the nines, Ms. BLEEP 13
Newsies: The Musical
Maxwell was impeccably glamorous and memorable indeed as Phyllis, the icy, aloof wife of Benjamin Stone (Ron Raines), particularly when she sang “Could I Leave You?,” a classic song about a woman proclaiming her independence from the shackles of a husband. Although Ms. Maxwell is not known for being much of a dancer, her incandescent performance as both actor and singer was one of the highlights of the season. The always superlative Audra McDonald received much acclaim for her lead role in this controversial revival of Porgy and Bess (which was shortened, angering many fans of the show). Still, Ms. McDonald delighted many with her gorgeous coloratura voice, and although she seemed a tad too regal and elegant for the low-life role of Bess, her inimitable vocals left a huge impression on anyone who saw the show.
given by UK actor Michael Cumpsty in End of the Rainbow. His multifaceted take on Scottish pianist Anthony, a big-hearted man who really wanted to help Judy Garland pull herself out of the gutter, gave the show enough depth and soul to make the play plausible. Mr. Cumpsty gave this often sensationalized show the true heart it needed. As Captain Hook in Peter and the Starcatcher, Christian Borle often stole the show (although he tended to ham things up a lot), but he is one of the actors everyone remembers from the innovative, clever play because of his relentless, deft comic timing.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Some think of the old TV sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” when the name Judith Light is mentioned, but she has Best Performance by an Actor come so far from those days. Ms. Light is one of the in a Featured Role in a Play most underrated actors on Broadway, for she is simply Perhaps the best performance in this category was one of the finest, most talented ladies of the American 14 BLEEP
theater, and just keeps getting better. In Other Desert Cities, although hers is merely a supporting role, Ms. Light gives one of her finest stage performances ever as Polly’s recovering alcoholic sister, Silda. Ms. Light often brings down the house with her vitriolic delivery of dialogue, and adds much-needed levity in many of the play’s bleaker scenes. There are few female stage actors as versatile and with such an enormous range as Judith Light. From last year’s Tony-nominated role in Lombardi on Broadway to numerous Off-Broadway and TV roles, Ms. Light is always the consummate actor. In Death of a Salesman, Linda Emond is powerful as Linda Loman. The part of Linda by an accomplished actress is an almost always a guaranteed Tony win, and Ms. Emond definitely has a strong chance in this category.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
This category is a no-brainer, in my opinion. Stage veteran Michael Cerveris was the highlight of the controversial but well-done revival of Evita, playing Juan Perón. Mr. Cerveris was consistently superb, haunting, and touching, and he more than kept the show afloat, despite some lackluster performances from other cast members. The other actor worth noting is the magnificent Josh Young in the reverent, must-see revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. Mr. Young was nothing less than superlative as Judas, with his soaring vocals and dynamite portrayal of the man who betrayed Christ.
you have probably heard her inimitable voice as she narrates countless bestselling audiobooks.
Best Play (Original or Revival)
Now, instead of doing an exhaustive rundown of the plays and musicals and revivals nominated, instead let’s just talk about the best plays (originals and revivals) and best musicals (originals and revivals, respectively). Other Desert Cities Playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s play is one of the best American dramas since Tracey Letts’ August: Osage County in 2007. Other Desert Cities is that rare show that turns the saga of a troubled, affluent family into a blockbuster. In an era when Broadway relies so heavily on revivals of musicals and British imports, it is refreshing to see a drama as original and intrinsically all-American as this. Other Desert Cities has all the elements of classic American drama: a California family torn apart by their writer daughter Brooke (Rachel Griffiths), visiting from back East after suffering a six-year nervous breakdown; the acerbictongued, alcoholic sister, Silda Grauman (Judith Light); and son Trip (Thomas Sadoski), who is fed up with Brooke’s self-centered angst. The Wyeths, a prominent Republican family of retired Hollywood luminaries, live in a posh but sterile Palm Springs house and do everything to maintain their public image of being upper-class and righteous. What is particularly remarkable about the show is how true to life it is, and nearly anyone with a family can relate to it.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical Gore Vidal’s The Best Man Two actresses in this category are “Broadway babies” of theater legend. The two ladies worth mentioning include Jayne Houdyshell, for her small role in Follies and her spoton version of Sondheim’s classic “Broadway Baby.” In addition, the remarkable Judy Kaye (one of the New York theater’s best character actresses who should get more roles than she does) was one of the few great things about Nice Work If You Can Get It. Whenever she is on stage in that show, she never fails to amuse, just as she did a few years ago in the ill-fated but hysterical Broadway musical Souvenir (playing a real-life New York socialite who considered herself a “singer” but had not an ounce of actual vocal talent). Never heard of Judy Kaye? If you listen to audiobooks,
This is a well-written and constructed play, and although it was set and written in 1960, it really is not that dated because little has changed in politics in the past five decades. The plot focuses on the Philadelphia Convention and shows that mudslinging and smear tactics were just as prevalent back then in a presidential race as they are today. The play is also well directed by Michael Wilson and features an all-star cast consisting of Eric McCormack, John Larroquette, Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, James Earl Jones, and others. Clybourne Park Bruce Norris’s drama, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, is a provocative twist to this urbanization/ BLEEP 15
gentrification tale of buying and selling of a house during a 50-year span. StageZine’s David Nounou said in his review, “In 1959, the house, owned by a white family, is being sold to an African-American family and we witness the discomfort it causes the people still living in that community. Act II reverses the role of selling the same house some 50 years later back to a white family moving into the area, which has changed over the decades to an AfricanAmerican neighborhood on the verge of being gentrified. Clybourne Park is a show that doles out equal amounts of harsh dramatic reality, while it is swathed in intelligent comedy simultaneously. This is not an easy feat to accomplish, but Mr. Norris does it to perfection.” The show has volumes to say about race, class, and society, making it one of the most thought-provoking dramas of the year.
dauntless task of bringing in an assortment of former showgirls to one last reunion before the decaying theater they once performed in will be torn down to make way for a parking garage. At this reunion, they get a chance to talk about where they are now, and reminisce about their former selves (their ghosts) and the glory days they once inhabited. The melding of the past and present is one of the most outstanding features about this musical. The enormity and grandeur is formidable. This version will be as close to perfection as one will ever hope to see, and for a new generation to appreciate.”
Evita Three decades after it originally appeared on Broadway, Evita remains a classic, and one of my alltime favorites. In fact, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s seamless libretto and timeless score are so powerful that both hold up in this strong yet flawed revival. Okay, so Argentine newcomer Elena Roger One Man, Two Guvnors Here is an English music-hall comedy at its sublime had no stage presence or much of a voice, and pop star best, one that you will remember for its unadulterated Ricky Martin was a bit too cutesy to play Che (but still lowbrow comedy as well as the comedic timing of has his amazing pipes), but Michael Cerveris managed the performances played to perfection. StageZine’s to hold everything together, and the production was David NouNou said in his review, “What The Book of overall lavish and spectacular. Andrew Lloyd Webber Mormon is to musical comedy, One Man, Two Guvnors and Tim Rice have been under-appreciated in the is to farcical comedy. It is simple and convoluted in United States for too long. Evita is one of their best narrative, but of the highest caliber in writing, style, and most accessible works: an English-language pop opera for the masses that even those who do not direction, and acting.” In essence, a bloody good British show that follow or enjoy opera can savor and appreciate. Who Americans will truly enjoy, and one of the best UK else but Mr. Lloyd Webber and Mr. Rice could take the tragic story of an Argentine president’s wife and imports in years. turn it into something so infectious and emotionally Best Musical (Original or charged? Plus, nearly every song in the show, from “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “Buenos Aires” to revival) “Rainbow High” to “High Flying Adored” is known worldwide. For this reason alone, Evita is one of the Follies I was just a little boy barely out of diapers when most glorious Broadway revivals in years. the 1971 original production of Follies debuted on Broadway, but I have heard about it most of my life Jesus Christ Superstar By today’s standards, Jesus Christ Superstar is tame from my father, my high school and college professors, indeed. On the surface, it is merely a retelling of the and many New Yorkers. Now I know what all the fuss is about, and why many consider this one of Stephen Passion Play, but with a 1970s twist since the show was a rock opera. This was Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Sondheim’s best musicals. As StageZine’s David NouNou (who saw the ’71 Rice’s first musical collaboration, and was considered production) wrote in his review, “Anyone who saw “blasphemous” by fundamentalist Christians when it the original 1971 version of Follies either considered first came to Broadway four decades ago. The show it the greatest and grandest musical of all time (not might appear dated to some, but this production is necessarily the best), or they just did not get it. As a anything but, for the tale of Christ’s last days on earth musical with a formidable book and score, it has the is timeless and, by the intrinsically tragic nature of 16 BLEEP
Jesus Christ Superstar
the “Greatest Story Ever Told,” lends itself beautifully to opera, regardless of one’s faith. It also has one of the best scores of any Broadway show in the past 40 years. Dare I say it, but this Jesus rocks. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the story and the wonderful songbook. Newsies The ultimate genius of Newsies: The Musical is the trenchant, innovative way it takes a bleak period of New York history from more than a century ago and somehow turns the grim narrative into a fun, educational, and marvelously entertaining evening that is loaded with infectious energy/choreography and unforgettable songs the whole family can enjoy. It is worlds better than the 1992 flop Disney film it is based on.
indeed. This is one of the rare seasons in which new faces shined just as brightly amidst the Broadway veterans. All in all, I would say two thumbs up for an overall exciting season that was merely contained some theatrical speed bumps. Please visit www.StageZine. com for the full list of our picks for “The Best and Worst of the 2011-2012 Broadway Season.” Scott Harrah has an M.A. in journalism from New York University, is a longtime New York pop culture journalist and critic, and Editor and Publisher of New York’s theater Web site, www.StageZine.com
An overall exciting Broadway season
This has not been one of the best of seasons, nor has it been one of the worst .It had a lot to be admired BLEEP 17
there’s even more to bleepin’ love 18 BLEEP
FOLLOW bleep BLEEP 19
Photo by Matt Hach
ices BLEEP 21
Broadw Inspirat Voices
Photo by Matt Hach
way ational using their Voices for more than just making music
Photo by Ryan Brinson
by ryan brinson
Make no mistake. This concert is unashamedly gospel. In fact, it’s less a concert and more an invitation for you to join with them in an experience. For some, it’s an experience that rings familiar from the churches they grew up in. For others, it’s a glimpse into a completely different culture of music. It’s not just a group of voices standing still. It’s an experience of the spirit that you are welcomed into.
Photo by Matt Hach
n 1994, Michael McElroy wanted to do something to bring hope to a community that was being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. He wanted something that was spiritual yet allinclusive. He began the Broadway Gospel Choir, and in 1999, the group was reincarnated as the Broadway Inspirational Voices. “I grew up in church,” McElroy said, “I grew up singing this music and I knew that the music itself, separate from religious doctrine, was powerful. I wanted to bring it, in some way, to the theatre community.” He called his friends and the talented people he knew and what started with 11 voices has grown into a choir with over four dozen members and those members, well they are some of the biggest names on Broadway and television. “I joined in 1994,” choir member Norm Lewis said. “I was working with Michael and he asked if I would sing. [This music] is a part of my background. It’s just such a great spiritual base to come back to. Michael is such a great leader. I have an amazing love for what he does with his music and arranging music.” When the choir first started, they were performing an annual concert for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the organization that sponsored the choir. BLEEP 25
The money raised from the concert went to help people living with HIV/AIDS. For McElroy and the other members, this was a cause that hit close to home. “I knew how important this music was to my life,” McElroy said. “I knew that at that time, the theatre community was reeling from the deaths of so many singers, dancers and directors. It was so hard to find sense in it and you can’t wrap your mind around it. For me, it was my faith and this music that really brought me a level of peace, calmed me down and let me know there’s something greater than myself. I knew, if given the opportunity, other people could benefit from finding music like I found it.” What McElroy wanted was a group of people that were all different races, backgrounds, religious beliefs and sexualities to be able to come together to sing the music he knew was so powerful. “I think the choir is very reflective of the community from which it came,” choir member Montego Glover said. “When you hear or see the Broadway Inspirational Voices, you don’t see the same kinds of people. They’re all different races and creeds and faiths. What we’ve discovered, which has always been true since the beginning of time, is that if you have spirit and if you have faith, then you have faith and you have spirit. So you may call your god Allah, you may call your god Christ, you may call your god Yahweh, but it’s the same faith energy and that’s the thing that embraces people and allows them to come near us without feeling judged or feeling outcast. We invite everyone. If you’re open, music is a universal language. I have friends of mine who are Jewish, who come and hear the music and have no other way to describe it than ‘it spoke to me.’ That’s what music does in the end.” McElroy says he’s seen how gospel music itself is separate from how it’s used, and sometimes, it’s
unfortunately used as a weapon to make some people feel outside, not good enough or unworthy of certain things. “The great thing about our concerts is that people come and the music is what it is,” McElroy said. “Yes, it’s based in the Christian belief, but it’s bigger than how limiting we make it as human beings. People feel the power of the music, no matter what background they come from.” Norm Lewis has seen the audience’s reaction to the choir’s music from the beginning. “They feel a certain spirit in the room,” Lewis said. “I’ve had people come to me and say ‘this is probably the best concert I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ve never felt so much.’ There are no lights, there’s no glitz and there’s no glamour. It’s just these voices and amazing music and arrangements and people who love doing it.”
“There are no lights, there’s no glitz and there’s no glamour. It’s just these voices and amazing music and arrangements and people who love doing it.”
But the music was only the first step. McElroy and other members of the choir were watching as music/ arts programs in New York City were suffering and felt they had to intervene. “We’re raising generations of kids that aren’t being exposed to the arts,” McElroy said. “Arts can change a life.” With that, BIV underwent a sort of transformation. They became an non-profit organization and began working with different organizations to keep music alive for young people. The choir started working with Green Chimneys, a house for gay teens, by writing poetry and music with the teenagers. They also started working with the Ronald McDonald House, where they are still active. “We have a new program called ‘The Key of Me’ where we teach kindergarten kids how to be musically aware, how to warm up their voices to make music,” Glover said. “We allow them to write and perform their own songs and assist them in the creative process.”
Photos by Matt Hach and Ryan Brinson
Last November, McElroy had five Broadway composers meet with a child in school once a week, talk with them about their lives and after three weeks, they would write a song based on that and perform it. At the request of Ronald McDonald House, at their annual gala in May, McElroy’s NYU students performed those songs with the kids. At the heart of everything the Broadway Inspirational Voices do, is the music. From opening a child’s eyes to the creative possibilities of life to opening up the hearts of the audience in the pews, the music always stays center stage. One of McElroy’s favorite points in their concert is when he sees new choir members experience the music in a different way. Especially if they may not have grown up in the kinds of churches where they sing this music. “I think I love the older style, Baptist-y stuff we do,” choir member Eden Espinosa says. “If I had to close my eyes, we’d be in a church in the South and it’d be hot and people would be fanning themselves. It’s a certain style that I’ve never been able to sing. I think everyone loves those songs because we get to just belt it out, we call it barking, just bark it out and have fun.” Whether it’s ‘barking’ out a new song or quietly singing an old spiritual, the music continues to draw. “I remember,” Glover said. “When I moved to New York City and a friend of mine took me to one of the choir’s concerts. The move here was a huge turning point in my life and my career. It was very emotional and very exciting. I remember sitting down at Town Hall and hearing, literally, the very first strains of music come out of the choir and something soft just spoke to me and said ‘this is exactly where you’re supposed to be.’ I found the experience of seeing the choir and hearing the choir so moving and joyous and pure and so exciting. So I joined because from the moment I saw this choir, I wanted to be a part of
that experience.” Espinosa echoed what the other choir members said. “I joined for the experience of working with Michael,” Espinosa said. “He’s amazing on a professional and personal level, we’ve known each other for a long time and then we did Rent together a few years ago. The experience of being a part of such a powerful sound…I’ve never experienced anything like it in my career. When you’re gearing up a concert, it’s a big commitment especially for people who are doing 8 shows a week.” The 8-show-a-week grind is something the choir members are familiar with. With an ensemble composed of actors, some of which are currently in Tony-nominated shows, the commitment to the choir is a sizeable yet meaningful one. “I have the great privilege of being in a successful Broadway show and the work demands are immense,” Glover said. “The choir, for me, is a real strike of balance. It allows me to maintain musicianship in a different way. If you have a sense of spirit of a sense of faith at all, then singing this kind of music that we sing is especially meaningful because it comes from a place that is worshipful and pure.” That sense of spirit has been with the choir since its inception. Besides being born from the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, the choir also served as a voice during another of America’s darkest hours, September 11th. “Very soon after 9/11, we did a concert and I know that someone that we [the Broadway community] relate to, LaChanze, her husband was killed.” Lewis said. “We had a song called “We Fall Down (But We Get Up)” and we were singing that song and Brian Stokes Mitchell was in the audience. He called LaChanze and just said ‘Listen. Just listen to this.’ Knowing her reaction later was just a touching moment. It also helped us with that feeling of loss and the sense of helplessness where we feel we can get back up. It was
“The experience of being a part of such a powerful sound…I’ve never experienced anything like it in my career.” -Eden Espinosa
Photo by Ryan Brinson
representative of what New York was going through.” money raised from their concerts funds the outreach programs throughout the year. That spirit of hope and compassion has been one “The theatre community is a hard community of the hallmarks of the Broadway Inspirational Voices when it comes to religious stuff,” McElroy said. “I think from the beginning and continues to be today. that’s what has helped us is that they come into an Having just performed their spring concerts as well as environment that is all-inclusive and when they look performing at the NBC Upfront presentations in May at us standing there at the front of the church, they (McElroy arranged the version of the song “Stand” know our hearts are open and not with an agenda. performed on the TV show ‘Smash’ and the choir We don’t have an agenda. We just want people to performed it at Radio City Music Hall for NBC), BIV embrace and enjoy the music in a way I know it can continues to focus on their outreach programs and be powerful in their life.” looks to expand to New York City high schools. Any 30 BLEEP
Photo taken in December 2010 by Ryan Brinson
For more on the Broadway Inspirational Voices, be sure to ‘Like’ them on Facebook or check out their website: www. broadwayinspirationalvoices.org Also, find their albums on iTunes or listen to them on Spotify.
A special Editor’s note: As a longtime fan of both the Broadway Inspirational Voices and the shows from which the members come, I rarely get to talk to a group of people as gracious and as warm as these. A special thank you to Michael McElroy, Montego Glover, Eden Espinosa, Norm Lewis and Angela DeCiccio for not only making this possible, but for proving you walk the walk as well. It was a true honor and one that will not be soon forgotten. - Ryan
photos by Quincy
Scott 32 BLEEP
Originally from Dover, Del., Jason Laurits went to film school in Miami. Two years later, he was chasing a singing career that moved him from L.A. to New York. It was once he’d started a band in New York that he started silk-screening for his shows. He ended up moving to London with a demo that didn’t exactly take off, and to make money, he silk-screened t-shirts and sold them in local markets. Back in Brooklyn, he’s left the music behind and focuses full-time on his line, Paste. How do you create your images? I didn’t do any drawing at all as a kid. My art is all digital. Using Photoshop and Illustrator, I create a digital collage of sorts. I create my images. Where does your inspiration come from? Inspiration comes from everything except other t-shirts and graphics. I try to be inspired by other things and not other people’s stuff. I get inspired by interior design, by music and by film. Good inspiration should be from another form of art BLEEP 33
so you can interpret it into your own. What sets your products apart from other vendors? I believe in natural fabrics. The t-shirts are all cotton and all made in the U.S. I do that because of quality control and working-environment control. You know, it’s important to pay attention and read labels. The food movement has done a lot for teaching people to read labels and that should translate to clothing. We should be buying more quality and less quantity. I know all the people who make my clothes. I have a relationship with them. Making this line has taught me a lot about how things are made and why things are priced the way they are. The question shouldn’t be why something is so expensive, it should be: why is it so cheap? Where can we get your shirts, shorts and prints? It’s sold in specialty stores, Nordstrom is carrying my swim line, you can get pieces at events such as street fairs and we are available online. What’s next for you and for Paste? Coming up next I have my swim line for summer, more lithographs, t-shirts and I’m taking a stab at designing some new things. Something that designing the fabric for my swim line showed me was that I could expand what I do. Creating wallpaper? Designing fabric? It’s all showing the other side of Paste. What’s your dream? My dream is to be able to make a living with what I’m doing balanced with being able to enjoy what I’m doing in life. I don’t need to conquer the world or be fabulous. I just need good people in my life, do good work and be happy.
Be sure to go to www.pasteusa.com to order today!
Mystery (meat) No More
New York City street venders teach a lesson in sustainability Photos by Ryan Brinson
On Sunday, May 6, the Vendy Awards and New Amsterdam Market teamed up to hold the inaugural International Meats Local. Billed as “New York’s first sustainable street meat event,” the market featured five of the Vendy’s most sought after vendors. But this wasn’t any average street cart event. This was unique. The challenge extended to these culinary-cart-Greats was to use humanely raised meats and other regionally sourced ingredients to reproduce their most iconic dishes. The chosen venders were Solber Pupusas, Guadalupe’s Tamales, Eggstravaganza, A-Pou’s Taste and Veronica’s Kitchen and the tasting event offered market-goers the opportunity to experience the flavors they love from these established carts but in a sustainable way. Part of the character of New York, the food venders were able to show that international flavors and local products could came together to promote the economic, environmental and nutritional benefits of food justice. More than that, they proved they can do all of that and still be delicious. International Meats Local initiates a collaborative relationships between New Amsterdam Market, the Vendy Awards, and NYC Street Vendors.
Featured: Pork and salsa verde tamales Guadalupe’s Tamales began as she sold her tamales on a Bushwick street corner and as word spread, she’s become somewhat of a destination for people searching for authentic tamales that aren’t bland. Our opinion: This was the best tamale we’ve ever had. Ever.
Featured: Egg, chorizo and cheese curds sandwich Eggstravaganza began as a breakfast cart in Midtown but the line stuck around until after lunch so the cart did too. The chorizo is homemade too. Our opinion: We wish breakfast everyday could be as good as that wrap was. 38 BLEEP
Featured: Chicken and cheese pupusas Not familiar with a pupusa? They’re basically stuffed masa cakes. If you’ve never tried one, make this one your first. It’s tougher than a pancake but not crispy like a taco. It’s a Salvadoran dish that was really spectacular in Manhattan. Our opinion: We were unfamiliar with pupusas before but Solber Pupusas has made us fans. Big fans.
Featured: Beef and kimchi potstickers Potstickers are an item that goes wrong all too often in Asian-restaurants but these Taiwanese treats that so many late-night East Village revelers eat each weekend are anything but wrong. Our opinion: These are different than the potstickers we’re used to. They’re sweeter and spicier and more delicious.
Featured: Jamaican jerk chicken with collard greens and rice and beans. Veronica’s Kitchen serves up Caribbean dishes in the Financial District of Manhattan and the spices on the chicken are something to behold. Our opinion: If you’re looking for authentic Caribbean food, this is the place.
merging acting & activism Story & Photography by Ryan Brinson
onathan D. Lovitz was a freshman in high school when his drama teacher cast him in his first lead role. The show was “Something’s Afoot” by Agatha Christie and he’d never been in a play before. He’s been hooked ever since. “I started going to Stagedoor Manor, the place everyone knows from the movie, ‘Camp.’ I got to work with incredible Broadway professionals as teachers and made probably my closest friends in my life,” he said. “We bonded at the most important age doing our favorite thing in the world.” After high school, Lovitz attended the University of Florida where he studied musical theatre and history. “That’s also where I fell in love with politics, advocacy and non-profit work. I was there during some really rough years financially [for the state] and saw a lot of funding cut, particularly for the arts,” he said. “So I learned how to save the arts through good grant writing and partnerships, which helped me because my first few non-performing jobs in New York were all within the industry trying to help save theaters.” He says that college was the “perfect storm of things happening all at the same time” as he got involved with Florida democrats and began working with the arts organizations around Florida, raising money for keeping arts in public schools. “Also, I was getting into some of the LGBT work that has really started to define my work here [in New York]. The first time I ever gave blood was in college and I went through that disaster of having to lie on a document to save people’s lives. It seems absolutely foolish. So I started getting involved with things that affect the gay community that most people aren’t even aware of. It was the perfect storm of politics and art and social consciousness all being thrown at me as only a college can bring you.” Four days before graduation, Lovitz found out he’d booked the national tour of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” After the tour finished, he decided to move to New York to continue working, only three weeks later, he’d booked yet another tour, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and was on the road for another year.
It was when he was back in New York after his years of touring that he was able to dive into advocacy. After having been a fan of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS since high school, he continued doing fundraisers for the organization through college. “When I got to New York and was able to really invest my time into that work, it really took off for me. I started volunteering, doing things at the office, did the very first Broadway Flea Market and then Broadway Bares. I’ve just been on their on-call list whenever they need hands. Luckily, when I got the TV show, I was able to move Broadway Cares frontand-center whenever I got to speak on camera about the work I do.” That TV show was “Setup Squad,” a reality dating show more focused on bringing out the confidence of would-be daters, rather than the drama of regular reality shows. Though he was the only male cast member, Lovitz wasn’t interested in being a caricature or a stereotype. “There were several meetings with producers where I said, ‘I don’t do camp, I’m not here to be your Jack. You’re getting an all-American frat boy that happens to be gay. I’m not gonna pander but I do have some things I really care about and I want to say.’ It was really important to be a tiny handful of openly gay actors on television and to use that as a vehicle for good. To be counted in that really small community and not do something with that, it seemed criminal.” Since the show, Lovitz has appeared at 11 Prides around the country, speaking about everything from the importance of standing up for gay youth, the gay vote in the upcoming election and gender identity and self-awareness. “For every offer to speak at a small AIDS charity, there were ten offers to go judge wet underwear contests on Fire Island. I told them they could call the ‘A-List’ guys for that. That’s not for me. That’s not the kind of guy we need any more of in the media.” For Lovitz, the ability to be himself has always been important. Being raised in South Florida, he came out at 16, openly dated a boy, they went to his prom BLEEP 43
togehter and understands how rare an opportunity that was. “One of the things that’s meant the most to me, with the show being out and me being public with my work, has been getting emails from 15 and 16-year-old kids,” he says. “My favorite one is this boy from South Dakota who wrote me and said, ‘I’m writing you, huddled in the corner using the wireless of my school library. That’s where I watch LOGO on my laptop because we don’t get it at home. I have no gay friends and I feel like I’m the only gay in the village. But knowing that you’re out there and there are people in the big cities that will welcome me and make me feel like I’m not alone and not the odd-manout is exciting and literally saving my life.’ He is one of thousands of young people out there that need the 44 BLEEP
Kurts and Blaines of the world to be kissing on prime time television so that everyone eventually gets over the fact that it’s ground-breaking and it just becomes the norm.” Professionally, he’s been taking risks and seeing his career branch out into new areas. He recently spent time in Los Angeles, conquering his fear of thinking he would never survive Hollywood. Not only did he survive, but he did multiple screen tests, booked an agent, and shot some commercial work. This summer will bring Lovitz to a couple film festivals, speaking about the presence of young gay men in the media, and the summer will also bring him back to his first love, the stage. “I’m getting back to my roots and doing theatre again. I’m off to do ‘Legally Blonde’ at the Arvada
Center in Denver. It’s going to be fun. I’m working with a lot of folks from the Broadway and national tour so it’s really high caliber actors. I’m also looking forward to spending some time in nature.” Being back on stage and as well as being diversified in his work feels right for Lovitz. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and yet, out of nowhere, the most incredible opportunities have come just by saying yes to bizarre and unexpected doors that have opened for me. Ever since I was ten years old, when I saw ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ I said, ‘I’m doing this. I don’t care how I’ll do it, but that’s what I’m doing for the rest of my life.’ For the first time, I’m really okay doing that and other things. I’ve gotten into hosting. I’m now on TV and on the web as a red carpet and special events announcer. I’m also
working on a series of fitness/self motivation videos here in New York. I’m so grateful I’m at a place in my life where I can say yes to these things. So the dream has expanded a bit.” He still goes back to see Phantom once a year to say ‘thank you.’ “I’m not the young man I was when I came to New York in 2007,” he says. “Who I am in 2012 is someone I never expected to be and I really like him. Most importantly, I’ve become really okay with being an unfinished product. I struggled my whole life with perception issues, now though a heck of a lot of soulsearching and trial and error, I’m at the best place I can be because I’m really in touch with who I want to be and still being okay with being surprised by that every day.” BLEEP 45
a Design by Lisa sorenson
“Vignette for Thrift Studio, by Wisteria” Photo by Lance Selgo with Unique Exposure Photography
BEFORE “Wow, I can actually breathe in here!” How many of us take something as simple as breathing in our own home for granted? Though seemingly the simplest of things, good, clean, breathable air affects your quality of life. Without a doubt, Lisa Robison and her team at Dwell With Dignity, have brought more than the simplest of blessings to homeless and impoverished families around the Dallas, Texas area; one of the most notable just happens to be…breathable air.
AFTER privileged clientele. I stopped working shortly after my daughter [now fourteen] was born. The privileged clientele can be very demanding and somebody needed to be home, so I took off about 10 years to raise my family. As my son was going into Kindergarten several years ago, I decided this was the time when I needed to get back into something creative.”
A Passion Calls… “I had to get back into interior design somehow because that is what I love; that is my passion. I didn’t necessarily want to get back to working With the mission to “help with that privileged clientele families escape poverty because I wasn’t ready to meet and homelessness through that demanding lifestyle. There design; one household at was something in the back of a time”, I knew Dwell With my mind telling me I wanted Dignity was something I to give back but I didn’t really wanted to learn more about. know how. I didn’t make the Sitting with Founder and connection of how I was going President, Lisa Robison, we to do that. It really sounds corny, explored how Dwell With Founder and President, Lisa Robison, with Vice but I read a book by Oprah Dignity came to be and how President and Director, Kim Turner. Photo by Winfrey and she said to [find it is bringing that breathable Lance Selgo with Unique Exposure Photography what it is that you’re passionate air and quality of life to those about, what makes your heart coming from none. beat fast, and figure out how to give that back to your community]; and I thought: That’s the secret to Before Dwell with Dignity… happiness!” “I’m an interior designer. I had worked with the 48 BLEEP
The Wheels Begin Turning… “The more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s often times the people who can benefit the most from a beautifully designed interior, who have the least access to it. So I started rolling this idea around in my head about doing interior design for families who were homeless and who were struggling to be self sufficient. I actually had thought about perhaps doing something with Habitat for Humanity but I realized I’d be plugging into their model again.”
Before and Afters: Completed apartment created in conjuction with the Dallas chapter of IDS (Interior Design Society). Photos by Lance Selgo with Unique Exposure Photography.
A Non Profit Is Born… “It just happened to be around my birthday and my husband had been asking me what I wanted. And I just didn’t know. I didn’t need anything. And then it came to me and I said ‘oh I know what I want. I want the nest egg to start a non-profit that does interior design for families who have been homeless’; so he gave me that birthday gift. I started right away. I had to ask how I would find the families to help. I knew I would be working with agencies which already had programs in place for those families. That way they’re getting all of those resources and everything they need. I wanted it to be an accountability based program and not a hand out. “The first agency I interviewed was one that came very highly recommended and I had actually worked with previously with another service oriented group. I told them what I wanted to do. I wanted to go into these apartments and bring everything in and create a beautiful space. They said ‘great! Go for it!’” Seeing the Fruit… “The first one that I did was for a mom and a baby. I was Photo by Lisa Sorenson
“Vignette for Thrift Studio, by Michelle Nussbaumer” Photo by Lance Selgo with Unique Exposure Photography
possible for them. So after, I did the first apartment, I sent out an email to all my friends, explaining what I had done. I said bring food so we can stock the pantry and come check out what I’ve done. Spreading the Word… “A friend of mine, Kim Turner, whom I had gone to design school with fifteen years prior, saw the email. She was at a time in her life when she was looking for something and she knew she had to be a part of this. She told me ‘Lisa, you have to bring this to the design community. They are the ones who get it. We understand how much your environment impacts your life and your well being.’ We began reaching out to all of her current contacts within the industry and we started to meet with them. Then the support really started rolling in. “Our third birthday is in May. I incorporated Dwell With Dignity three years ago in April. We have this beautiful house that’s been donated to us to office and work out of and we now have a warehouse in the design district that’s been donated to us, providing 7000 square feet for us to work out of. “With one full time employee, one part time
Photo by Lisa Sorenson
working out of my house. Just a few friends helped me. My daughter was another reason I wanted to do this on my own. You had to be fourteen to work with Habitat and she was eleven and I wanted her to be able to get involved. We did the first apartment installation with just my daughter, her friends, and some people I know. “I’ll never forget there was this lady across the hallway [at the first apartment install I did] who had a little girl on her hip and she kept looking over like ‘what are you doin’ over there’. So I said ‘you want to come in? You can come in.’ She walked in, looked around and exhaled a big breath gasping ‘I can breathe in here.’ That was exactly the response I had wanted to invoke with the environment I had put together. “So I want to create spaces for these families where the children feel safe, where they feel valued, where they have a place that they’re prideful of and they want to keep it that way. They usually have a big hill to climb and a long learning journey ahead, and that is one less thing they have to worry about. I think of the kids mostly. Here we are providing this new standard of living for them that they probably didn’t think was
Photo by Lisa Sorenson
consultant, and the rest all volunteer, the organization truly does run on volunteers. Finding the Candidates… “Agencies apply with us. We have this application process to make sure we work with agencies who align with our goals of helping these families become selfsufficient, but enabling them to do it through a teaching experience. [These agencies] really look at the level of commitment the families have to the program and how many kids are involved to make sure this leaves a strong impact on those kids. “A lot of times, we’ll go in and do, what we call, a soft install. This is based on a limited knowledge of the family. We have a mom. Incorporate lots of storage, kitchen table and chairs, living room and then we sit tight. We’ll hear from the agency that they have a selected family maybe a week or so before the family arrives. So we get the details and go finish out bedding, artwork, and extras to make it personal. We can typically make the install happen in about two days. We bring in all the furniture, we create all the art work, we stock their pantry, and make their first nights meal. They have everything they need when they walk in that front door.“ Finding the Funds… “Thrift Studio was something we created for fundraising. It is very difficult to get funds to pay for operation. Everyone wants to pay for that little girl’s stuffed animal or the book, or the sweet things that 52 BLEEP
make a house a home. The reality is, in order to provide those things; we need the funds to manage the whole process. So Thrift Studio came from us brainstorming up our strengths we could rely on to gain funds. We get amazing donations from, not only the community, that we restore, but also from designers. We’ll get items maybe rejected by a homeowner, maybe with minor flaws or from someone just changing their design style. Some of these items, though beautiful, don’t make sense for a family who has been sleeping in their car. So this was a vehicle for us to sell these items and gain funds. The thing that made it fun was inviting the designers in the community. We gave them a vignette and told them it is like a little room. They must use 50% of the items to decorate that room from our warehouse. It forced them to be super creative. You can reupholster it. You can lacquer it. You can do anything you want to it. But take items from our warehouse so we can show people how to up-cycle in almost a teaching moment. They also donate items from their own inventory. These designers made the vignettes stunning. We have a big preview party and we now have people line up out the door with sold tags. “Everything is priced to sell so we can have everything gone in the 30 days of the pop-up concept. People came in droves to the Design District, where our pop up store was held and we were thrilled with the results. The second Thrift Studio, held six months later, had increased revenues by 74%. We’re working now to team up with designers for the next Thrift Studio fundraiser in
Photo by Lisa Soren
the fall and it has really become our signature fundraiser. “Something we still need is cribs. We cannot use cribs donated for various reasons. Peacock Alley does our linens. Whole Foods stocks every kitchen. Container Store does Elfa systems in every closet and provides anything we could want. We have so many corporations joining in to provide their niche of product. Just giving a little bit creates a full package you can provide.”
as we have already seen the interest in other cities across the nation. We want to create a book that says exactly how to do what we do. After being on the Nate Berkus show, we had hundreds of emails asking “Where is the Dwell with Dignity in my city?” Every week we still get emails from people all over the place. We want to make sure we can make that happen but that it happens the same way and to the same quality it has been happening here, in Dallas.” Finding the Help… With satellite projects happening from Miami to San “Wednesday work nights are open volunteer nights. Francisco, Dwell with Dignity is laying the base work to There is no registration or sign up. It is simply a creative grow organically and spread the good design across the collaboration. We work on refurbishing the furniture country. “People have asked me ‘do you think everyone we need for the installation. With an installation every deserves a good home?’ and I surprise them by saying no. month, we always have plenty to do. I think you need to be in a place in your life where you’re going to work for it and provide a good environment for Goals for 2012… your children, and make their lives better than perhaps “A project a month was the first goal, which we are on yours were. That takes a lot of work and those are the task for doing. people I want to help.” It is easy to get involved, easy to One goal for the year is putting together a workshop donate time or money and easy to see the obvious affects program, FAD, incorporating Food Art and Design. These of what any of your giving would do for this incredible workshops will continue to educate our families on organization. At the end of the day, Lisa shares what how to use their resources to make the best. They will she tells her children with me “You put good energy out learn healthy ways to cook, how to create their own art there and you will get it back” and I can see this is true of and how to do simple design tasks like create window the amazing work she has started and continues to do treatments out of painters’ drop clothes. One of our through Dwell With Dignity. previous residents will be heading this up; and, it is really rewarding to see this come full circle and the residents You can find many ways to support the works of Lisa paying it forward. and her team at www.dwellwithdignity.org. You can The other is to be able to franchise Dwell With Dignity also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. BLEEP 53
This new organization of broadway professionals have a mission. to bring their community together through volunteering and activism. they’re just getting started but broadway serves is already ‘being the change’ 54 BLEEP
Photo by Ryan Brinson
roadway BLEEP 55
n Wednesday, March 21, 2012, the Million Hoodie March in NYC’s Union Square brought a handful of theater professionals from the Broadway community together in response to the death of Trayvon Martin. While at the rally, would-be co-founders Dana Marie Ingraham, Dionne Figgins and Kimberly Marable recognized the absence of and the need for an organization for theater professionals to be able to discuss and take an active role in social issues and current events. Broadway Serves! was born. The demand for the group was evident: the Facebook page reached almost 500 members in a week. Why is Broadway Serves! important? DMI: Dionne, Kimberly and I were at the Million Hoodie Rally for Trayvon Martin in Union Square. We were there among other performers from the industry in the crowd, and agreed that it would be great if there was an actual organization of performers that could come together and perform and help out in the community at events and with projects that centered around issues we felt strongly about. DF: We began to imagine what it would be like if the arts community came out as a unit to support 56 BLEEP
such causes, lending our voices to bring visibility to injustice and people in need. We could sing songs of hope, dance and bring joy while fighting for a cause. Our gifts [could be] put to use for the betterment of mankind. A utopian thought? Not when you think of all the possibilities. How is Broadway Serves! Different from Broadway Cares and Broadway Impact? KM: We’re different in every way. Broadway Serves! as an organization really acts as a facilitator or liaison between theater professionals and service opportunities. We are a centralized location for people to find more information on service programs that they may not have previously known about. And unlike Broadway Cares or Broadway Impact, we’re not limited in the causes our members can rally around. In fact we hope to collaborate with these organizations to bring attention to the AIDS epidemic and marriage equality, but ALSO any and every other important issue. If there is something that our members want to discuss or act on, we encourage them to bring it to the Broadway Serves! forum, so that we may collectively find a way to get involved. DF: If someone has a cause they want to support, we will help them get organized. Whether it be a walk or benefit concert, we want to connect our members to opportunities to give back. The possibilities are
Photo by Ryan Brinson
Photos by Ryan Brinson
endless. DMI: Broadway Cares and Broadway Impact are both wonderful organizations that are centered around very specific issues. What Broadway Serves! hopes to do, is to help facilitate discussion and action around many different issues affecting the world (ie: homelessness, poverty, hunger, disease, bullying, etc.)
informed about the cultural, societal, and political worldview of the times. We need to keep dialoging about what’s going on in the world, because life affects art affects life.
s e v r se
y a w d a o r b
What do you hope to accomplish with Broadway Serves!? DF: It is our mission to encourage Broadway community members to make the act of service a priority. Before we are artists, we are people, people who are at our best when we are using our talents and gifts to affect change in other people’s lives. Broadway Serves! gives its members the opportunity to reconnect with the community at large. It is our wish to use our talents to make the act of giving enjoyable, for both giver and receiver. KM: Oftentimes people don’t get involved simply because they don’t know where or how to find out about what is happening. By creating a central location for people to get information and share ideas, we’re hoping to change that. DMI: Art has always played an important role in societal change. You can look at music, art, literature, and dance throughout history and be so richly 58 BLEEP
How have you kicked off Broadway Serves!? What was your jumping off point and what KM: We decided to launch broadway Serves! by participating in this year’s AIDS Walk NY, and boy was it a smashing success! In a month’s time we accumulated over 30 cast and crew members from 10 different Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, and raised over $8,500. DF: I was truly inspired by the group of artists and crew members assembled, some walking before a matinee on the last day of an 8 show week, all dedicated to lending a helping hand to fight a disease that continues to be a worldwide epidemic. It was truly a great day of service! We are also working with the Clinton Family Inn, which is a homeless shelter for women and their children, in their writing program at the Children’s Museum. The Tuesday after the AIDS Walk, we went to the Children’s Museum and worked with the women and their children, leading them in song, sharing lunch, and teaching the women confidence builders to help them share their writing for an upcoming informal reading, which we will also be attending and participating in.
It was a learning experience for all involved. The women were so receptive to have professional performers assist them with not just performance skills, but life skills, that can be used in in everyday life. DMI: Our Facebook page has also been a wonderful tool in igniting discussion about current events. Broadway Serves! members post articles of interest about issues going on in the world, as well as opportunities for service. What plans/events do you have on the horizon? DF: We have already begun partnering with other service organizations and plan on beginning service initiatives of our own. We are working on organizing a team to walk for Avons Breast Cancer Walk. We are in talks with “Broadway Builds” to assist them with an initiative they are working on. We are supporting SAG/ AFTRA’s BookPALS, which is a reading program for underprivileged children in NY. KM: We’re also in the planning stages of our own monthly event called “Sing and Serve,” where volunteers will alternate between serving food and performing at local soup kitchens. Down the line, we’re also looking to have a satellite program for touring professionals to be able to get involved in the community while on the road. DMI: Although the AIDS Walk has physically been completed, fundraising is still continuing until June 15th, so we’re still involved with that project. The response to Broadway Serves! has been great from within the Broadway community, so we’re happy that people see a need for and have a desire to be of service. DF: There are more than enough opportunities to bring the Broadway community out to volunteer for a worthy cause, using our gifts and talents to affect change at the grass roots level, face to face with those in need. It is our sincere wish that we can be that link to help other artists “be the change [they] want to see in the world.” We want the city to know, Broadway is here and we’re ready to Serve! In 20 words or less, what is Broadway Serves!? DF: Broadway Serves! looks to connect the Broadway community to opportunities to be the change [we] want to see in the world. KM: Broadway Serves! is an organization devoted to Castmembers from Sister Act, Memphis and Spider-Man: “being the change” by engaging and uniting theater Turn Off The Dark at the AIDS Walk New York on May 20. professionals through service and activism. DMI: We are a group of your favorite performers striving to “be the change we want to see in the world!” BLEEP 59
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ยกPura Vida! By Charly Edsitty
stood at the beginning of a hanging rope bridge that had no end in the middle of the Costa Rican Cloud Forest. The only thing between me and, in my mind, a certain death was a rope and a couple of metal clips. My friend, Jocelyn, carefully made her way down the bridge as the lush green trees of the thick forest fluttered in the wind. I watched and asked, “Why did I pay money to do this to myself?” My heart was racing. This type of behavior was so out of character for myself, but 2,000 miles from home I became another person. I watched in anguish as Jocelyn was about to take the plunge, knowing my turn was next. She jumped and a symphony of screams bellowed from her. I felt every inch of the 280 foot drop in my bones and I was still on solid ground. I took a deep breath and said a quick prayer before making my way down the bridge. A strange sense of calm came too over with the inevitable staring me in the face, but that didn’t mean I could follow simple directions. After being told twice to let go of the railing, I finally listened. The gate opened and there I was, about ready to become a real life Jane of the Jungle. I don’t know if I jumped or was pushed, but I imagined my belly button and my eyeballs making friends for a good 10 seconds. Some people take pictures, others mingle with the locals, well, I jump off bridges in order to get acquainted with a new country. Costa Rica, although small at approximately 20,000 square miles, can only be experienced if you jump in. Whether it’s the pristine beaches or the wet and humid rain forests or the rolling green hills of the countryside, Costa Rica is a destination for thousands of travelers each year. 72 BLEEP
My journeys took me to the capitol, San Jose, which offered a taste of day-to-day life in the city. For the most part, the country is Americanized, with Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Aeropostale clothing stores dotted across the city. But the museums, such as the National Theater of Costa Rica and the PreColumbian Gold Museum offer a rare glimpse into the rich history of the Central American country. For those wanting an adventure off-the-beatenpath, Monteverde, located in the Puntarenas province, is the perfect spot for those looking for outdoor thrills in the middle of the rain forest. Zip lining, hiking, horseback riding and hanging bridge tours are bountiful in this sleepy town perched 4,600 feet above sea level. There are no bells and whistles of an upscale resort here, just an open invitation to explore. And no visit to Costa Rica would be complete without a visit to the beach. The hardest part is deciding which coast: Pacific or Caribbean? Playa Tambor on the Pacific side has a lot to offer tourists looking to relax and do nothing. There are several allinclusive hotels in the area that make it very difficult to lift a finger with food and drinks available all day and activities happening around-the-clock. The country’s official motto “pura vida”, meaning pure life, says it all. The gracious people of Costa Rica take pride in their country and offer a different perspective on life. Their appreciation for the beauty that surrounds them is apparent in their love for their home, something they share with all those lucky enough to experience it. All I can say is: I plan to visiting again and again. ¡Pura Vida!
Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more BLEEPing than just in the mag. Check out www.bleepmag.com for past issues and find us on Facebook and Twitter.
bleepquiz James Langteaux
Author & Inspiration I am... love. I’m here because... the abortion laws were in my favor. (I’m just sayin’) What makes me happiest is... fulfilling my purpose. It’s like hitting the sweet spot on a tennis racquet. You can almost hear me ring. The color that best represents me is... indigo. It sounds mysterious but it’s just blue. What I hope to accomplish today is... this quiz. My best friends are... exceedingly patient and forgiving. I can’t live without... connection and intimacy. Between an Olympic champion or an Oscar winner, I’d rather be an... Oscar Mayer Weiner. If I wasn’t me, I’d be... disappointed. I like it best when you... tell me the Truth - even when it hurts. God is... beyond my imagination yet closer than my very breath. I’m hungry for... the one thing I don’t have in my overflowing refrigerator. Always. I cry... way more than I like to admit. Ridiculous. Style means... finding your second skin and living comfortably in it – then find über cool accessories. It’s mostly about the accessories. I want to go... where no man has gone before. The most obnoxious sound in the world is... Vietnamese nail techs gossiping about my ugly feet in their language while they smile at me during the pedicure. What makes me weak is... giving in to my insecurities and handing other people my power. (Or having my hair cut while I sleep). At this exact moment, I’m passionate about... the band, Dark Dark Dark as it is 5 minutes before doors and Nona has an intoxicating voice. I crave... deep connection. My inspiration is... borne of love - but it is always shape shifting and taking some new form or another. BLEEP 75