Monday, September 10, 2012

"Broadway Cares" Las Vegas

Facing a dying nation

A moving paper fantasy

Listening for the new told lies.....

These lyrics, relevant as they are today, are actually from the rock musical "Hair", which debuted on Broadway in 1968, 44 years ago.

1968 is considered one of the most turbulent and confusing years in modern American history in the areas of politics, war, and society. In the far off future many might look back at 2012 the same way, with one big difference. No "hippies" that's kind of sad.

Admit it man...the hippies are missed! Back then most people misunderstood them. In reality though, maybe those that did were secretly jealous of all of that freedom, love and counter culture living. After all, everyone else had to grow up, why shouldn't the hippies?......

The "Tribe", Hard Rock Cafe, Las Vegas...Photo by Richard Brusky

Oh I know we recently had a similar uprising with the efforts  of "Occupy Wall Street". They deserve recognition. What's missing with them though is the peace, love, and conviction of the hippies' day and age. What "Occupy Wall Street" had/has is a lot of anger, warranted of course, but in the end they have so far not been any more productive than their "flower child" predecessors. Maybe time will tell.

A show like "Hair" can make a person think. "what would make me angry enough to protest, speak up, organize, march, become an activist for change?" Speaking for myself, I don't yet know the answer.

Broadway Cares & Rag Tag Entertainment's production of "Hair" got the show's message across while surrounding everyone in the room with energy, love and music! One of the best elements of this show is the breaking down of the fourth wall when the hippies dance around and sit down next to members of the audience. It takes a lot of focus for an actor to be in character amongst those that aren't. I learned this years ago doing dinner theater. It provides an added dimension for both the audience members and the performers.

Every time I catch a Rag Tag Entertainment production I wonder, "why don't more people know about this group?".....and "I can't believe the tickets are so cheap!" There are those who criticize Rag Tag and their set design, or lack thereof, and somewhat improvisational stage direction. To me that's like criticizing Jesus, (the original hippie), for not having his shoes tied...what I mean is it doesn't matter! The energy, the heart, the talent, the experience, is ALL there.

How can people be so heartless
how can people be so cruel
easy to be hard, easy to be cold
-Easy to be from "Hair"

Whatever city or town you live in, do yourself a favor and seek out these kinds of theater companies! Get on the email lists, go with friends, bring your kids, your kids friends, your parents, or go alone. These are performers bursting with talent and heart. Just the fact that they are doing this work for little or no pay for the sake of bringing the performing arts to everyone, when most of them are high end professionals who usually make much more, says it all. To that I say.....BRAVO!

All photos courtesy of Richard Brusky, photographer and retired Air Force veteran.

Brandon Nix as CLAUDE....I asked him how it felt to play
a man "sent to the slaughter" in Vietnam.
He said, "You know what? It was actually pretty intense."

What a piece of work is man
How noble in reason
How infinite in faculties

-What a piece of Work is from "Hair".....
lyrics adapted from Shakespeare's Hamlet...

Anne SHEILA...
Photo courtesy of Richard Brusky
Good morning Starshine, the earth says hello!...
You twinkle above us, we twinkle below... 
Good Morning from "Hair"

The Tribe, one last protest......Photo courtesy of Richard Brusky

Somewhere inside something there is a rush of greatness
Who knows what stands in front of our lives....
Flesh Failures/Let the Sun from "Hair"

Brandon Nix as Claude....and The Tribe

Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS -

BC/EFA is the major supporter of seven programs at The Actors Fund, including The HIV/AIDS Initiative, The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, The Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, The Actors Fund Work Program, The Dancers’ Resource, The Stage Managers’ Project and three supportive housing residences.

Broadway Cares, is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised over $195 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. 

Rag Tag Entertainment was formed with a single thought in mind, "The performing arts are for everybody, not just those who can afford them. We have gathered performers from the Las Vegas strip, New York City, and everywhere in between who are passionate about sharing the arts. Our goal is to introduce the performing arts and enrich lives through various modes of performance at prices that are accessible to all families."

Rag Tag Entertainment, Putting the Community First with Accessible Theater

The above are excerpts from Broadway Cares and Rag Tag Entertainment's websites.

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a musical with book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Musc by Galt MacDermot. 

Photos courtesy of Richard Brusky

BONUS clip...true talent shines at auditions even without stage lights.....
Brandon Nix Audition for "Hair" 2008...Youtube  

Director, Andrew Wright
Choreographer - Callie Johnson Schouten, Musical Director - Roger Butterley

Stage Manager - Ally Chaykin, Assistant Director - Sefanie McCue
Assistant MD - Karalyn Clark, Technical Director - Marissa Nestlebush,
Lighting - Jeremy Hodges

Dustin Dubreuil
Brandon Nix
Gus Langley
Carnell Johnson
Anne Barr
Marisa Miranda
Kirstin Maki
Lily Arce
Keith Dotson
Glenn Heath

Stephanie Sanchez
Jon Sangster
Brenna Folger
David Tarr
Christian Escobar
Sydney Story
Taylor Henderson
Niles Rivers
Sin City Dolls

Aimee Wade
Matthew Howard
Olga gomez
Richie Fazier
Ronnie Gaar
Amanda Bennett
Megan Koumis
Diana Wilson Estrada
Crystal Lasorsa
Tara Lynn
Scott Gibson-Uebele
Tammi Colombo

Hazelnut Cocaine: Roger Butterley - MD/Guitar, Matt Murphy - Drums, Karalyn Clark - Assistant Md/Keys, Aja Wilson - Bass

On With the Show: Kaelin Andruss, Molly McClendon, Maya Harris, Carter Fowler, Adelynn Tourondel, Michael Cimino, Gary Easton, Ava Nobert, Emily Anzell, Lauren Wolfgram

Special Thanks

Jane Khaldy
Greg Kata and "On With the Show"
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Rag Tag Entertainment
The Hard Rock Cafe
AV Vegas
First Friday
Buffalo Exchange for donating costumes!
Erik Ball
Alda Tomasic
Christian Escobar
Lisa Story
Patty Spellman

Always remember to "let the sun shine in"....

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