She Calls Me Firefly will take you on a journey you’ll remember

sean fireflyI was blessed to see She Calls me Firefly on a dress rehearsal night a few weeks ago at the Soho Playhouse. It’s only running for about a month for Pride Month in NYC and sadly, ends it’s run Pride weekend. That means you only have one more week left to catch it before it’s gone. I plan on seeing it at least once this week, if not a few times before Sunday June 24th! It’s totally worth checking out a few times because I feel like it’s the type of art that will present new facets each time you see it.

Full disclosure, one of the stars, Sean Hudock is a good friend of mine but my desire to see the play has all to do with his amazing talent. During the rehearsal show, his performance moved me to tears, made me laugh, and touched my heart. He soars in any role he takes on and is one of the biggest supporters and allies of the LGBTQ community I know. I don’t think I’ve ever actually told him before but he constantly inspires me on my own journey and gives me so much strength when I need it. He has encouraged me to continue to be involved, fight, and be there for others in my community.

The show takes place in a Kentucky dive bar called Freddie’s Place, where it’s always nickel beer night and there’s live musical entertainment to start out each evening. You’ll be transported there for each performance because you’ll be seated in the bar, enjoying the live performance until the show begins around you.

cast fireflyHere’s the official description from the website:

‘It’s Nickel Beer Night at Freddie’s Place. Ken has come to drown his sorrows, but no amount of alcohol can wash away the pain of his broken relationship with Levi, nor the dark and difficult secrets of his past. As you enter Freddie’s you will instantly be transported from New York City streets to a Kentucky dive bar. Pull up a stool, grab a drink, and find yourself immersed in the searing world of She Calls Me Firefly.’

A new play written by Teresa Lotz, directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser.
​​A co-production by Parity Productions and New Perspectives Theatre Company.

It’s the broken relationship that brings Ken into Freddie’s Place and this will tug at your heart-strings but it’s the dark and difficult secrets of his past that will shock you and bring you to tears. This play is a reminder that sometimes we must deal with our past in order to move on to the future we deserve. What holds us back and keeps us from happiness does not serve us. I don’t want to give away any of the important parts of the story but I feel like everyone can relate to it for sure!

She Calls Me Firefly is an official NYC Pride Partner and a perfect partner it is! If you are in NYC visiting for Pride or you live here, make this show part of your NYC Pride experience….You won’t be sorry. You can get tickets here for Monday June 18th, Wednesday June 20th, Thursday June 21st, Friday June 22nd, and Saturday June 23rd.

Happy 10th Anniversary NOH8 Campaign!

NOH8 Photo June 2018

Ten years ago I found the NOH8 Campaign online and shortly after, I joined Twitter and found out even more plus found more people who were part of the community. I was new to social media but I quickly saw that what Adam Bouska, Jeff Parshley, and the whole team were doing was more than just taking photos. It was a bold statement at a time when marriage equality was non-existent in most places and had been overturned in others.

NOH8 organized a march on Washington and I wasn’t even used to traveling much back then but I knew I HAD to be there. I booked a flight, made sure to connect with a few people on Twitter so I wouldn’t be all alone when I got there, and proudly headed off to our capital to be sure my voice (and our voices) were heard. That was a huge turning point for me and an enormous push for me to use my voice for causes I believed in. When I got there, met all of these people, and spent the weekend hearing stories, sharing stories, marching, being harassed by protesters, and making friends I am so proud to know; I realized just how important this cause was.

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At the time of the march, I don’t even think I had taken my first NOH8 photo but since then, I think I’ve taken about ten in total. I’ve made sure that if I’m in the same city they are doing a shoot in, I’m there. Over time, the photos have meant more and more to me. It’s about marriage equality but it’s also about all equality for our brothers and sisters who need more of a voice. The entire LGBTQIA community needs to be heard, to be seen, to make themselves known and that’s what I’m doing every time a take a photo, post a photo, bring friends with me to have their photos taken.

We have seen recently that there are people who want to erase certain groups, to reverse the progress we’ve made and that is why the NOH8 Campaign is just as important today as it was ten years ago. In my own personal life, I experienced slurs and prejudice in my work place which wasn’t handled properly by superiors and really not handled at all. I live in NYC but I realized even I could have my voice silenced by the powers that be and that did not sit well with me.

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As I think about the past ten years, the photo shoots, the events, the progress, I think the most important thing has been the people I’ve met online from all over the world. They have shared their stories with me, their concerns, their issues. I hope I have been able to offer some advice or at least an empathetic ear that made them feel a little better or helped them to find solutions, a little courage, and some comfort.

I want to thank Adam, Jeff, and everyone at NOH8 for all they have done, do, and will do. I don’t think there are words to express how incredibly grateful I am to have been given the boost of courage I received from simply being associated in any way with this cause and I promise to continue to lend my voice, to proudly display my photos, and to continue to bring my friends along for the experience.

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To the friends (Straight, gay, queer, etc) who have joined me: I am forever grateful for your love and support. This campaign has allowed so many to stand next to people they love in support and show just how united we can be no matter what else is going on in the world.

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I look forward to another amazing ten years and more!!!

Please feel free to share your own NOH8 stories here!

 

Kenyth Mogan Dives into the Holy Water

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Kenyth Mogan last took us over the rainbow with his Wizard Of Oz LGBTQ video for his song ‘Unlock Your Heart’ which featured a great friend of mine, Ronnie Kroell as the Tin Man. That music video has garnered over 2 million views to date and now he is following it up with his latest song ‘Holy Water’, which tackles the very serious subject of addiction.

I got to speak with Kenyth about the song and a few other topics recently, and as usual, it was a refreshing conversation.

Q: Your new song, ‘Holy Water’ is about someone struggling with addiction. Tell us a little more about it. Is it something close to your own heart?

Kenyth Mogan: Yes. It’s one of the reasons I gravitated to this song (it was written by Tim Feehan and Tiffany) feel like a lot of people can relate to the struggles of a loved one grappling with addiction – especially in the LGBT community.  It’s a situation I’ve found myself in on more than one occasion. From family member’s struggling with alcohol and cocaine to a boyfriend who ended up spending time in prison because of an addiction to meth.

Q: What would you tell someone who has a loved one who is struggling with addiction?

Kenyth Mogan: No matter how strong you are – it’s nothing you can ( or should have to ) deal with on your own. Sometimes saving the one you love means letting them hit the bottom.

Q: Who are some artists you like to cover when you perform or just around the house or in the car? 

Kenyth Mogan: There’s a ton. From artist like Alexz Johnson and Mika to Meatloaf and Linkin Park.

Q: Do you have a wish list of collaborations you’d like to see happen for you? 

Kenyth Mogan: I’d really like to work with Teddy <3, Leland, or Zedd

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Kenyth Mogan: Don’t be such a doormat. Opinions are like a**holes. Everyone has one, and no one knows what feels right for you, but you – and don’t be so scared. Jump. It’s fun.

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Q: How about some advice for those how are currently struggling with their own identities or struggling with coming out? 

Kenyth Mogan: It’s trite but true: Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter. Don’t do it for anyone but yourself.

Q: Name one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without? 

Kenyth Mogan: I couldn’t live without music to listen to. I wish everyone could (and think they probably can) live without making stupid people famous .

Q: Where can we find you, your music, and your videos online?

Kenyth Mogan: All social media counts Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter – everything is @KenythOfficial

Here is the official press release for ‘Holy Water’:

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In 2015 singer-songwriter Kenyth took us over the rainbow with his LGBT Wizard of Oz themed music video UNLOCK YOUR HEART. Three years and two million views later, he’s taking listeners to a much more realistic place with his newest single HOLY WATER. “The song is about a loved one struggling with addiction,” Kenyth states. “It’s something I feel a lot of people can relate with – especially in the LGBT community.” Though the official music video will not be released until early next year, Kenyth release a special acoustic version of the song featuring fellow LGBT artist Zee Machine. The song is a step in a more mature musical direction for Kenyth, which is something he’s ready for after years of being referred to as the cute gay geek. “I wouldn’t change what I’ve done, but the time for rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers have passed,” he says. “I’m excited to introduce people my new sound.” Written by Tim Feehan and pop icon Tiffany, HOLY WATER (Basement Acoustic Mix) will be released on November 30th.

Daniel’s Husband touches on some very important issues

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There are so many things we are dealing with now and so many things we need to shed light on. These issues have, thankfully, been showing up in our art to bring awareness and hopefully let people who are going through them know they aren’t alone. I always say great entertainment does more than simply entertain and I love when there is a touch of social good mingled in with my art.

Daniel’s Husband is a touching, heartwarming, funny, impactful, and sad story that may be all to familiar to many. It deals with what happens when a couple (in this case a gay couple) isn’t married and they haven’t taken care of the proper legal steps they need to in case of a medical emergency. It also addresses family drama and the differences in individual beliefs when it comes to marriage.  I suggest bringing some tissues because the play (and the acting) definitely hits you in the feels.

“Daniel and Mitchell are the perfect couple. Perfect house, perfect friends – even a mother who wants them married. They’d have the perfect wedding, too, except that Mitchell doesn’t believe in gay marriage. A turn of events puts their perfect life in jeopardy, and Mitchell is thrust into a future where even his love may not prove to be enough. Daniel’s Husband is a bold reflection of love, commitment, and family in our perilous new world.”

Daniel’s Husband is playing Off-Broadway right now and I suggest you catch it, it will leave you with plenty to think about as well as plenty to discuss with whoever sees it with you.

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Here’s a bit about the stars:

Matthew Montelongo (Mitchell, Daniel’s Husband) has appeared in numerous New York productions, including the Broadway revivals of A View from the Bridge and The Ritz. Off-Broadway, he has been seen in One Night (Cherry Lane); This Backstage Life (Atlantic Theatre); His Daddy (Ensemble Studio Theatre); Whore (Summer Play Festival); God’s Ear (Vineyard Theatre/New Georges); Five Flights (Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre); The Mineola Twins and Arms and the Man (Roundabout Theatre Company); and Tartuffe (Shakespeare in the Park/Public Theatre). Regionally, Matthew has performed in the national tour of Looped and in productions at Washington D.C.’s Studio Theatre, Hartford TheaterWorks, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Signature Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, Woolly Mammoth Theatre (Helen Hayes Nomination for Best Ensemble), Alliance Theatre, Folger Shakespeare Theatre, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Hangar Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Capital Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, The Old Globe, Two River Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. Matthew’s television appearances include “Ray Donovan,” “Elementary,” “Sneaky Pete,” “Forever,” “Gossip Girl,” “Law & Order: SVU” (x2), and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” He recently starred in the feature film Bear City 3 and the popular new web series “West 40s.”

Ryan Spahn (Daniel) began his Off-Broadway career in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Pulitzer Prize finalist Gloria at the Vineyard Theatre. He went on to appear in Michael McKeever’s Daniel’s Husband and Ike Holter’s Exit Strategy, both for Primary Stages, as well as the revival of Summer and Smoke with Transport Group and Classic Stage Company. His recent regional credits include Hamlet at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Halley Feiffer’s Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Gloria at Goodman Theatre, Exit Strategy at Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Nina Raine’s Tribes at Actors Theatre of Louisville. His feature film credits include Woven (co-writer), He’s Way More Famous Than You (co-writer), and Grantham & Rose (writer). He co-created the digital series “What’s Your Emergency,” was a writer and producer on Logo’s “Cocktails and Classics,” and appeared on TV in “Tanner on Tanner,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Star Trek: Voyager.” He will be seen next in episodes of “Half Life” and “The Blacklist” and the upcoming film Shirley, directed by Josephine Decker. Ryan received his BFA from The Juilliard School.

Anna HolbrookRaising (Daniel’s Mom)  has appeared in Jo (Theatre Row), Skeletons (Broadway Bound Festival), Daniel’s Husband, The Dolphin Position (Primary Stages), Natural Life, Hot L Baltimore (Gloria Maddox Theater). Regional: Crimes of the Heart, Three Viewings, My Fair Lady. Film: I Love Trouble, Those Who Wander, Boxed. Television: “Blue Bloods,” “Bull,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Law & Order,” “L&O SVU,” “The West Wing,” “Spin City,” “One Life to Live,” “All My Children,” “Another World” – Daytime Emmy®www.annaholbrook.com

Leland Wheeler: Off-Broadway: Daniel’s Husband (Dir. Joe Brancato, Primary Stages/Penguin Rep). Film & Television: 1/1 (with Lindsey Shaw & Judd Nelson), We Need to Talk about Kevin (Dir. Lynne Ramsay), “Blue Bloods” (CBS). Student of Deborah Hedwall. Since 2001, Leland & his family annually produce the award-winning Heritage Music BluesFest in Wheeling, WV.

Lou Liberatore: BroadwayBurn This (Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Award Nominations), As IsLondonBurn ThisOff-BroadwayPushkin (american vicarious/Sheen Center), Daniel’s Husband (Primary Stages, Penguin Rep), A Class Act (New World Stages), Orpheus Descending (Bartley/Glezos Prods), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Masterworks Theatre Co.), Rocket to the Moon (Peccadillo Theatre Co.), Turnabout (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Sight Unseen (Manhattan Theatre Club). Also: The Vineyard, Naked Angels, The Lark, Orpheum, Second Stage, Circle Repertory Company. RegionalAngels in America, Parts 1 & 2 (Actors Theatre of Louisville), The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide… (Berkeley Rep), The Diary of Anne Frank and That Championship Season (Westport Playhouse), A Thousand Clowns (Two River Theatre). Also: The Alley, Theatre J, Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival, Baltimore Center Stage, Pioneer Theatre, Steppenwolf, Mark Taper Forum. FilmSleeping with the Fish (upcoming), Barrio BoyBlood from a Stoner, Box, Mary and Louise, It’s My PartyRosen’s Son, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (Disney World, Epcot Center). TV: “Deception,” “The Affair,” “The Good Wife,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Sex and the City,” “Law & Order.” Education: Fordham University (Lincoln Center), William Esper. Member Artist: Ensemble Studio Theatre, Actor’s Center, Circle Repertory Company (1985-1996).

Let The Other Day take you where it began and began again

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I was very lucky and thrilled to be invited to see a touching, important off Broadway play called The Other Day. Theater is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening, especially on the weekends. I can get lost in the city for an entire day and then end it by seeing a great play or musical. It is all so very entertaining and in some cases, as is with The Other Day, it can leave you thinking about so much.

The other day is a story about relationships, the good and the bad parts, the sweet and the sad parts. It’s about two couples: a gay couple who meet in rehab and a straight couple where the husband is so consumed by his job and success that he is driving his wife away (and straight to a flask).

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Unfortunately, it was a very limited run this time around but I’m hoping it comes around again and you all get to see it. There are so many powerful moments, so many touching moments, and just so many life moments. What impressed me most is that a character’s sexuality is becoming less important as we all realize these stories, the things that happen to us in life, are so universal. In the case of this play, you could interchange the straight characters and their situations with the gay characters and their situations. Love is love and being human just means we all basically experience the same things when it comes to life, love, losses, and vices.

Look out for it and of course, I will keep you updated as to when and where you can see it as soon as I know! This one is worth catching, tears and all.

The Book of Merman

book of merman

Yes, you read that correctly, The Book Of MERMAN. This is a delightful Off-Broadway musical comedy where two Mormon missionaries ring the doorbell of Ethel Merman and you can just imagine where the hilarity begins.

It’s a three person cast of performers who posses some of the biggest voices I’ve experienced on or off Broadway and their comedic timing is completely on point throughout.

How can you go wrong with a show about two Mormon Missionaries who happen upon Ethel Merman’s apartment? Ethel causes quite the stir an a few cathartic moments for the young men and the young men provide Ms Merman with a few self realizations of her own.

Here’s a little about the cast from the night I was lucky enough to see it:

Carly Sakolove is Ethel and absolutely does Ms Merman proud. Carly is a long time fan of Ethel Merman and pays tribute to her, other Broadway divas, as wells as pop divas in her one woman show, “I’m Every Woman”. Her viral YouTube video “Broadway Divas Send in the Clowns” featuring her diva impersonations, has been hailed by Timemagazine and The New York Times. Off-Broadway: The Marvelous Wonderettes (Betty Jean),NEWSical the Musical and Girls Night: The Musical (Carol). She was recently seen in the national tour and Royal Caribbean companies of Mamma Mia! as Rosie. Favorite credits: Mazeppa in Gypsy (Sharon Playhouse) and Helena in The Mystery of Edwin Drood(Speakeasy Stage) and Robert Anne in Nunsense (Feinstein’s 54 Below)

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So, Carly supplies the Ethel part and two more talented actors provide the Mormon part. Kyle Ashe Wilkinson (Elder Braithwaite) and Chad Burris (Elder Shumway) do that wonderfully. In this cast, each voice is as grand as the others. At one point we are even treated to a Merman-off where Ethel challenges Elder Shumway to a voice-off.

Kyle recently made his NYC debut in the developmental presentation of Manifesto: The Diaghilev Project at the Robert Moss Theatre. Some favorite credits include Harold Bride in Titanic: The Musical (Rocky Mountain Rep), Chris inBecky’s New Car (Florida Rep), Justin in Good Boys and True (Theatre UCF), and Man 1 in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Theatre UCF). BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Central Florida.  www.kyleashewilkinson.com 

Chad has been part of: National Tour: The Book of Mormon (Elder Cunningham) Regional: Cleveland Playhouse, Cape Playhouse, Arkansas Repertory Theatre. He is the co-creator of the web series, City Boyz.

I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday night at this musical and so did my guest. I left with a few of the songs stuck in my head and a smile on my face.

If you’re looking for some fun, to be entertained, and to have a reason to tap your feet, get yourself over to see The Book of Merman. I think you’ll find it’s a great way to spend the evening, part of a date, or to entertain out of town guests. Since it’s an off-broadway production, the price point is quite affordable and the theater setup makes every seat a great one!

 

TV’s DAVID DEAN BOTTRELL & SANDRO ISAACK To star in award-winning playwright MARK JASON WILLIAMS’ THE OTHER DAY

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TV’s DAVID DEAN BOTTRELL & SANDRO ISAACK To star in award-winning playwright MARK JASON WILLIAMS’ ‘THE OTHER DAY’ Directed by ANDREW BLOCK

Begins Performances on September 7; Opening September 13

At Theater at the 14th Street Y

David Dean Bottrell   Sandro Isaack   Elizabeth Inghram      John Gazzale

New York: Loretta Michael Productions in partnership with the Theater at the 14th Street Y will present the The Other Day, written by award winning playwright Mark Jason Williams, directed by Andrew Block. The Other Day stars TV’s David Dean Bottrell (“Modern Family,” “The Blacklist,” “Boston Legal”) and Sandro Isaack (Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle”)  with Elizabeth Inghram (AMC’s “Dietland,” Girl Most Likely) and John Gazzale (NY: All My Sons, Our Country’s Good).

The Other Day begins performances on September 7 and opens on Thursday, September 13, 2018 and runs through September 23, 2018 at the Theatre at the 14th Street Y (344 E 14 street at 1st Ave). Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by visiting www.14streety.com

In the new play The Other Day, two men, powerless to their addictions, find each other along the 12 steps, taking us on an unexpected journey through love, loss, redemption and dreams of Amsterdam, that will redefine their relations, and themselves, in surprising ways.

This run comes after an successful run at the Planet Connections Festival where it garnered the 2011 Planet Connections Award for Outstanding Playwriting.

MARK JASON WILLIAMS (Playwright) is a New York playwright and essayist whose work is published by The Washington Post, Salon (“You’re too vanilla”: Confessions of a sexually tame gay man), Good Housekeeping, Out (Phone Sex Change), Far and Wide, The Denver Post, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Stuff(New Zealand), The Daily Dot, Honeysuckle, and more. His essay, Phone Sex Change, is published in The Byline Bible by New York Times bestselling author Susan Shapiro, and inspired a story for Jezebel. Mark’s plays have been produced across the country in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. He has a BFA in Dramatic Writing, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

ANDREW BLOCK (Director) is an award-winning Director, as well as representative for the Off & Off-Off Broadway community for TDF. He received the Ovation and L.A.Drama Critics Circle awards for the world premiere of John Pollono’s Small Engine Repair (Best Director & Production). Selected credits include: Lost and Found (FringeNYC Encore, Lortel); This Stretch of Montpelier (The Fire This Time); Straight Faced Lies (FringeNYC); Why Bother? (Best Director, Planet Connections Festivity); David Caudle’s Downward Facing Debbie (World premiere, Planet Connections); Adam Rapp’s Bingo With the Indians (GLAAD award nomination for Outstanding Theatre, West-coast premiere); Illuminati (Best Director, Network One-Act Festival); Bedroom Farce (FAPC); Reach (Ivy Theatre Company); Company (Gallery Players);Avenue Q (Manhattan College); Inherit the Wind (Manhattan College); Rumors (AADA); The Shape of Things (Adelphi University); Recovery (FringeNYC); A proud native of New Orleans.

Listing info:

The Other Day

Begins performances on September 7  – 23; Opens on Thursday, September 13, 2018

Theatre at the 14th Street Y  is located at 344 E 14 street at 1st Ave).

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by visiting https://www.14streety.org/nowplaying/season/

Performance schedule:

Friday, September 7 at  9 PM

Saturday, September 8  at 4 PM

Saturday, September 8 at  8:00 PM

Sunday, September 9 at  4:00 PM

Thursday, September 13 at  8:00 PM

Friday, September 14 at 7:00 PM

Saturday, September 15 at  2:00 PM

Saturday, September 15 at  6:00 PM

Sunday, September 16 at  2:00 PM

Sunday, September 16 at 6:00 PM

Monday, September 17 at  8:00 PM

Friday, September 21 at  9:00 PM

Saturday, September 22 at  4:00 PM

Saturday, September 22 at  8:00 PM

Sunday, September 23 at  4:00 PM

Press performances are:

Saturday, September 8th 4:00 PM; Saturday, September 8th 8:00 PM ; Sunday, September 9th 4:00 PM; Thursday, September 13th 8:00 PM

The cast and creative team are available for interviews. To arrange interviews or press seats please contact

JT Public Relations at joe@jt-pr.net / (646) 481 -6583

CAST:

DAVID DEAN BOTTRELl has guest starred on many shows including “Modern Family,” “The Blacklist,” “Mad Men,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds,” “True Blood,” etc, as well as playing recurring roles on “Rectify,” “Days Of Our Lives” and “Boston Legal”.  His extensive theatre work includes shows at the Long Wharf, the Second Stage, and the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville. And his new book, WORKING ACTOR is coming out in February published by Ten Speed Press (Random House).

SANDRO ISAACK  is a New York based Brazilian actor and storyteller. Off Broadway: Brecht’s Arturo Ui (Ontological Theatre), Apple Of My Eye (Nettles Company, performed at U.N./Unicef). Regional: The Merchant of Venice (Yale/Dartmouth), Day of the Kings (Alliance Theatre, GA), Marat/Sade, Enrico IV, The Island of Anyplace, King Lear, Othello (American Repertory Theatre, MA), Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew (Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, KY). International: Man of La Mancha (Russia), Cher Moliere (Italy), Edward II, The Snow Queen, Boys From Paul St (Brazil). American TV: Amazon Studio’s Mozart in the Jungle. Sandro is currently adapting his children’s book Stork M.I.A. to the stage.

ELIZABETH INGHRAM has been seen on AMC’s “Dietland,” “Gypsy,” “The Blacklist,” “Person of Interest,” “Royal Pains,” “Gossip Girl” and opposite Kristin Wiig in Girl Most Likely. On stage in NYC, Elizabeth’s credits include The Chekhov Dreams (Beckett Theatre, Theatre Row), Romantic Trapezoid (Lion Theatre, Theatre Row), To Each Their Own (FringeNYC), as well as shows at the The Irish Rep, Metropolitan Playhouse, New York Musical Theater Festival and more.Her regional credits include Where’s Charley (Goodspeed Opera House), Hello Dolly (National Tour) and Man of La Mancha (Cleveland Playhouse). elizabethinghram.com

JOHN GAZZALE All My Sons with VOICETheatre.  Also with VOICETheatre: Our Country’s Good (Sideway/Collins); Birds on a Wire (Shimon); Hay Fever (Simon);  Barefoot Theatre Company: Raft of the Medusa (Donald); A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley (Scrooge); Dog Day Afternoon (Leon); Balm in Gilead (Frannie);  Gallery Players: Company (Peter);  FringeNYC 09 Encore:  Terranova (Hearst);  Lobo Theatre:  Spring Storm (Arthur – New York Premiere);  Member of Barefoot Theatre Company and VOICETheatre.  M.F.A. Actors Studio New School.

About the Theater at the 14th Street Y

The Theater at the 14th Street Y focuses on social awareness and change through big picture narrative. Inspired by works that welcome artists of all backgrounds, we place artists at the heart of our community and seek to create an inclusive and open cultural experience for all. Art is incubated here.

About the 14th Street Y

The 14th Street Y’s philosophy is grounded in the belief that contemporary Jewish sensibilities can be a source of inspiration, connection and learning. No matter what your background, we aim to inspire you to live your best life. We’re committed to the development of the whole person, to strengthening family connections and to building inclusive and sustainable communities.The 14th Street Y serves more than 20,000 people annually with a variety of community programs and is proud to be a part of Educational Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit

organization with a 128-year history of serving New Yorkers downtown.

Matt Young may be the busiest man in Show Biz but he’s got time for you

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I recently had the great fortune of meeting Matt Young via social media and I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring him to you all. Being a fan of Hallmark movies and knowing so many of you who are, I know this will be a real treat for us. Matt was part of the Hallmark Channel movie, A Summer to Remember and this coming weekend (Saturday, August 18th) he appears in Pearl in Paradise. But, there’s so much more to Matt and so much more coming up from him.

Matt’s family was part of a Netflix documentary Gayby Baby, which was about families with same-sex parents and he is in the TBS series Wrecked. His resume is quite diverse and includes Theater, Television, Film, dancing, and he finds time to coach others with acting and public speaking.

Now, allow me to introduce you to Matt Young, actor:

Q: You have quite the acting/professional resume. You’ve been in film, theater, and on television. Can you tell us some of the things you love about each and some of the challenges of each? 

Matt Young: I got my start in NYC in the early 1990s when I was a student at NYU.  I came to New York with the dream of being a professional actor, having performed in community theatre in my hometown of Gardner, Massachusetts.  Within 3 months of landing in NYC, I was offered a role in my first professional show, a three person play over the Christmas season, in which I played a reluctant angel Gabriel.  I spent my NYU years performing in downtown theater spaces, and as an extra in Hollywood and independent films on the streets of New York.

I studied to be a Broadway dancer, and was on my first Broadway tour (in Europe) within months of finishing my degree.  I love the physicality of live theatre, especially musicals, where you have to perform 8 times a week to a responsive audience.  Though it can be brutal on the body.  And because I’m from an older generation of performers, where “the show must go on”, I rarely miss a show.  My last tour of a musical, the 2012 Australian tour of Annie, I never missed.  I only missed about 9 performances of my first USA Broadway tour, A Chorus Line, back in the 90s.

So when I got my first lead role in a television show (the Australian/New Zealand/Canadian tri-production of Captain Cook:  Obsession and Discovery), I couldn’t believe how easy it was!  Physically, I mean.  All I had to do was immerse myself in the role, and it fell into place.  I was able to live within the character for the whole 3 months of shooting, so all I really had to do was show up on set and be me as the character on that day.

Film is a bit more intense than TV, as the emotions are experienced on a greater level, but have to be performed more realistically (I find television to be similar to live theatre).  Because you are so largely displayed in a film, the camera sees everything.  So it’s almost like all you have to do is think, and the camera will amplify it.  So I find that very satisfying, because even though I find it mentally exhausting, I love authentic looking film performances.

Q: You are also a director. Did you always want to direct or was that something you were inspired to do as your career grew/evolved?

Matt Young: I direct (and choreograph) live theatre, and recently choreographed a dance scene for the upcoming faith-based film The Other Side of Heaven 2 which will hit US theatres in April 2019.

I approach everything as an actor (especially choreography), so I think it was a natural progression in my career.  I’m a bit of a control freak, and have a habit at looking at everything I do with an outside eye.  Also, as I coach actors for auditions, I am constantly having to analyse scripts and imagine what the end product will look like on-screen or on stage.

I have been asked to direct independent films since my early 30s, but I have always put it off.  I think I have such a respect for film directors, that I’ve always felt a bit unworthy.  And the amount of work is enormous.  As a Dad, I’m constantly weighing up the time commitment and trying to attain that work/life balance.  I have acting students here in Fiji that are chomping at the bit to create a film, so I think I’m just going to have to put aside my insecurities and reservations and do it this year!

Q: How did you get started as a coach? How does one go about hiring Matt Young Company if they are in need of coaching for public speaking, acting, etc?

Matt Young: When I moved to Fiji with my family, in 2014, my kids were on my husband’s work visa, but I was here as a tourist.  Fiji is a developing country, and even though since late 2014, Fiji is one of 3 countries in the world which has a constitution that says you cannot discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, when we arrived, there was no box to tick on any form that allowed the same-sex partner of a Fijian resident to attain residency in the country.  So, I had to either keep leaving the country every 4 months to renew my tourist visa, or I had to start a business.

Since I had been informally coaching actors for years in Sydney (especially in US accent for stage shows and Hollywood auditions), I knew I could coach actors.  A friend who was formally in the media here in Fiji suggested I should be a media coach, focusing on spoken English.  And public speaking seemed an obvious choice, since I know how to prepare speeches as an actor.   So, to be able to gain residency in Fiji, and remain with my now husband and our adopted children, I started Matt Young Company (original name, I know) and became a coach.

My friend and acting colleague in Australia, Gabriella Masselli McGrail, started recommending her students to me for online coaching, and I started working within the NGO sector in Fiji, as well as coaching the contestants for Miss World Fiji.  But I really hit my stride when I became the speaker coach for Ted X Suva.  Finally, I could use my theatrical training to help public speakers reach emotional depths to tell their stories.  I now work with lawyers, corporate leaders, actors and emcees here in Fiji.

If you’d like to learn more, look for Matt Young Company on Facebook or learn more on my website www.mattyoungactor.com.  I do Skype coaching, as well as give feedback on video submissions, and many actors or speakers in the USA, the UK, or Australia/New Zealand find it convenient to work with me, as the time difference in Fiji works in their favour for “after hours” coaching, as it is often in the middle of my working day.

A Summer to Remember

Q: You’ve been in a few Hallmark Channel films now, A Summer to Remember and now Pearl In Paradise. I am a huge fan of Hallmark Channel, their movies, and their shows. I also know they have kind and loyal fans who are very active on social media. How has it been to be inducted into the #Hallmarkies family?

Matt Young: Ah, Hallmark!  The #Hallmarkies are remarkable.

When I was on tour with Annie in 2012, it was the first time I understood the power of social media, especially Twitter, in engaging with fans/the audience.  I met some amazing musical theatre fans who hosted me in every city of the tour, and made some great friends.

Annie in a way, led to Hallmark.  The adoption of our two boys came through in February 2012, about two months into the run of Annie.  So, here I was in a show about a childless man who adopts a child, and it changes his life.  And we had moved through the foster system and finally were able to bring legal validity to our family.  It was an amazing synchronicity.  And I had decided to do Annie specifically because I had been doing a lot of theater and television that dealt with the military and violence, and I wanted to be in a production that my kids could watch without having to deal with those grown-up concepts.

So when I heard Hallmark was filming in Fiji, and I was a submitted for a part by my Australian agent, I was keen to do more family friendly content.  Something that my kids could watch, and that their grandparents back in Gardner, Massachusetts could share with their community as well.  I was blessed to be cast in two movies, and hope I will be cast in others, whether they are filmed here or in North America.

Through the move to filming in foreign locations, Hallmark has become more diverse by default (South African actors in Love on Safari, Fijian actors in Pearl in Paradise).  But also, as I was thankful to the podcasters at The Bubbly Sesh for noticing, Hallmark is consciously hiring an age diverse supporting cast.  And if one or five of us happen to also identify as LGBTIQ, even better.  You will notice Dr Bailey wears a wedding ring.  What’s not to say that he is married to a man?

Q: You were born and grew up in the United States but now live in Fiji. How did that come about? 

Matt Young: OK.  It’s kinda a long story, but it’s good, so bear with me.

In 1999, I had just finished a production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Cape and Ogunquit Playhouses in New England.  I was out of a job, and I ran into another A Chorus Line alumna, who was choreographing a show for a cruise ship and needed a dancer.  At age 27 I signed up for my first cruise ship contract, and hated it, as I thought I should be on Broadway proper.  But, eight celibate months later, we finally landed for an overnight in Sydney, Australia, a week before Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.  And you should remember, this was before e-mail, social media, or dating apps.  I walked into a bar and ran into my friend Emelio, from New York, who I never expected to run into half way around the world, and he introduced me to this Aussie guy named Peter, who he had just met.  Peter and I hit it off and had a great night together, and spent most of the next day together before I got back on the ship.  I thought that was the end of if, as I lived in New York, and he lived in Sydney.  But Peter was persistent, and we ended up meeting up in my next port of call in Australia.  Then he was transiting through Singapore on his way to London when our ship came to port.  And when I got off the ship in Southampton, he was in London, so we spent the week together.  I then went back to New York, where he came to visit, then he invited me to come back to Sydney during the Olympics.  By then we had well and truly fallen for each other.  So, jump forward to 2014, after living in Sydney together for 14 years, when he asked if I’d follow him to Fiji, where his company was relocating him, I said yes.  So we packed up the family, and have been here for almost 5 years.

Q: With the Hallmark Channel connection, I have to ask: How was to work with fan favorite Catherine Bell from Hallmark Channel’s Good Witch on A Summer to Remember?

Matt Young: Oh, yes, Catherine Bell!

Catherine is so beautiful in person, it took my breath away.  That hair!  I spent the first few takes just trying to not freak out.
But then I calmed down and got to work.  She is a very professional and generous actress, and has worked with the director, Martin Wood, many times.  So it was really just hanging on for the ride. They knew exactly what they needed, and it happened very quickly.
I enjoyed our onscreen relationship, because, really, all I had to do was act like she was my best friend.  And who wouldn’t want Catherine Bell as his beast friend?  A real joy.

Q: As a married gay man with two teenage boys, how do you feel about the current LGBTQ challenges in the States and all over the world?

Matt Young: It should be noted that though we had a commitment ceremony in 2002, we only were legally married in the USA in 2015, when state marriages started to be federally recognised. Australia only just changed the law to allow same-sex couples to be legally married, so our US marriage is now recognized there as well.  

I think because we have been so used to not having the same rights as everyone else, we just got on with our lives, and hoped the rest of the world would catch up. Our marriage is not legally recognised in Fiji, where we currently live.  But we hope one day, in our life time, it will be.  And the boys have never articulated it, but it must have been hard for them to have to explain that their two dads were not “allowed” to get married for the entire time we lived in Australia.  We were able to foster and adopt (the adoption laws were changed in 2009), but not legitimize our relationship.  It was exhausting to carry that for so many years.

I fear for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community in the USA under the current government.  I’m sort of glad that we are not living there at the moment and we don’t have to be confronted with the US news every day.  And we are planning a trip through Russia, and many of our friends have advised us not to talk about our relationship, especially as we will have our 16-year-old son with us.  So we selectively have to go back into the closet, depending on where we are.

However, I’m an optimist, so I think this is a moment in US history that will pass.  I think it is inevitable that the USA, and the rest of the world, will continue moving forward and recognising that people have different sexual orientations and gender identities.  Certainly for our sons, a person’s sexual identity will never be something they won’t understand or accept.

Q: Your family was one if the subjects of the Netflix documentary ‘Gayby Baby’. What was that experience like? What kind of feedback did you get from it? Did you learn anything during or after filming it? 

Matt Young: The filmmaker, Maya Newell, was friends with our mate, an Australian actress/filmmaker named Natasha Bassett.  Maya lived literally across the street from us.  When she initially approached us about being in the film, which shows the experience of growing up in families with same-sex parents, through the eyes of the children, we were not that interested.  We didn’t want our kids to feel exploited, and we didn’t want to give ammunition to haters to attack our family.  But Maya needed a male couple with kids that were our kids’ ages, so she assured us that the boys would be taken care of, that we would be shown all the footage that was going to go into the film, and that we could at any time let her know if we wanted something removed from the edits.  She is an amazing filmmaker, with great integrity (and the daughter of same-sex parents herself).

She worked with us for about 2 1/2 to 3 years, first focusing on our eldest son, and then focusing on Graham, as Michael started to grow out of the age of the other subjects in the film.  We were extremely used to having her around, so there is no artifice.  She would see our lights go on in the morning, from her window across the street, and call and ask if she could come over.  She accompanied the kids to school, to the supermarket, to sports, to church, and finally to Fiji.  What you see in the film is about the last 6 weeks that she filmed with our family, when we moved to Fiji.

Of course, our greatest fear came true when the film became well-known, and was about to be theatrically released in Australia.  One of the national newspapers, The Daily Telegraph, ran a front page article attacking the film and the children, saying they were indeed “not normal” and that the film should be banned in Australia.  Again, Maya stepped in, got counsellors to talk to all the kids and the parents, and stood firm that we had an important story to tell.

Obviously, the public agreed.  The film has been shown on tv by Australia’s national broadcaster, Netflix picked up the film, it had a theatrical release in Australia, and it has been seen in film festivals around the world.

And Graham, our son who is featured in the film, is incredibly proud of that snapshot of his life.  Ebony, one of the other kids from the film, and Graham catch up every time we head back to Sydney.  We marched in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras with the other families, and he and Ebony were interviewed for tv.  He travelled to the Northern Territory in Australia and talked about his experience as a foster kid who was adopted by same-sex parents while the adoption law was being reviewed there – it passed, allowing same-sex couples to adopt.  So overall, through all the struggles and worries we had as parents, it turned out to be a gift for our son, and our family.

Q: You’ll also be appearing in the TBS series ‘Wrecked’, which begins in a few weeks. Are you still in production for that or is the season already filmed? Tell us about the show and your character. 

Matt Young: Wrecked finished filming this season in Fiji in May.  I was a core cast extra last season, as they needed other plane crash survivors to occupy the island, (it’s a parody of Lost), along with the main cast.  I was upgraded in Episode 7 of Season 2 to a named character, “Sad Dirty Survivor”.  There is a running joke in the show about the main cast not being aware of the adventures of the rest of us on the island, so it’s a bit of fun to look for me throughout Season 2 in the background!  But at the end of Season 2 – spoiler – the rescue ship we were all on sank and we all piled into 3 lifeboats, with the 10 main cast members landing on a new island!  What happened to those of us on the other boats?  You’ll have to watch this season to see if that question is answered.  I can’t say more.  But you can watch the entire Season 2 on the TBS app.  And the show is hilarious!  The cast was allowed to improvise the dialogue in the last take of every scene, the “fun run”. The actor who plays Steve, Rhys Darby, who I also stood in for during Season 2 filming, was particularly hilarious in those runs.  And some of that material made it into the final cut.  I love comedy.  I’d love my character to keep coming back each season, but I’m at the mercy of the writers.

Q: With all you have done, what are some things you want to do that you haven’t yet?

Matt Young: Although I toured with Broadway musicals in Europe, Canada, the USA and Australia, I haven’t actually performed in a Broadway show on Broadway.  So that is something I need to do within the next 5 years.  I love comedy, so I’d love to be in the principal cast of something like Wrecked.  I’m a sit com kind of actor, so I’m trusting someone will offer me a contract to be a series regular on a sit com.  I love film, so I’m looking to get more film work in Hollywood and abroad.  And I want to play a gay man in a feature-length movie, as I almost always get cast as “straight” or “married”.  I am a married family man, so that makes sense, but hopefully someone will write a role for me.  I worked on a short film which was on the Festival circuit this year called XYXY, in which I played a scientist who was able to create a child for my husband and myself in the lab.  I really hope that gets developed into a feature.

Q: Since we are living in a time of “reboots”, what are some shows you’d like to see come back and roles you’d like to tackle? 

Matt Young: Stargate.  I’d be a great spaceship captain.  Fame. As a dance and/or drama teacher.  Pretty much anything that has to do with dance.  I’m often being looked at to play a ballet master or choreographer, and did a stage show called Goodbye Miss Monroe in which I played Jack Cole, Marilyn’s dance director for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  I’d do that show again in a heart beat.  And in terms of comedy?  Bring back ALF. I’ll play the father of the family he lives with, Mr Tanner.

Q: Where can we find you and online?

Matt Young: If you want to find me, at the moment I’m here in Suva, Fiji looking after my family!  But you can follow me on social media: @mattyoungactor on Instagram and Twitter and Matt Young – Actor on Facebook and You Tube.  And as mentioned, my website is www.mattyoungactor.com.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Matt Young: I absolutely cannot live without the ocean, and the ability to go swimming in it.  I love it so much I moved to an island! And we are recent boat owners, so that makes it even more accessible.

The one thing I wish we could all live without?  So many things – hatred, bigotry, close-mindedness, climate change, addiction, suicide – the list goes on.  But if I have to limit it to one thing?  I wish we could all live without depression.  Since we cannot, make sure you see a doctor if you feel you are suffering. And get help. It could save your life.