By Maddy Dowler, Communications Manager
Arizona Broadway Theatre (ABT) – known for its high-quality musical theatre productions since opening its doors in 2005 – is now creating opportunities to give back to the community through show-specific Impact Projects that correspond to the subject matter of the show running on stage. The first Impact Project is a teen-youth anti-bullying campaign entitled, “I Am What I Am,” which includes partnerships with Herberger Theater Center (HTC) and other Phoenix-based community organizations such as One Community and One n Ten.
With music by the late Jerry Herman (Mame, Hello, Dolly!) and book by Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy, Hairspray, Kinky Boots), La Cage Aux Folles is the winner of six Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and has become one of the most popular musicals of all time. Opening in 1983, the show broke barriers for LGBTQ+ representation by becoming one of the first hit Broadway musicals centered around a same-sex relationship (later made into the movie “The Birdcage” with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane). The show’s now-infamous torch-song, “I Am What I Am,” has become an anthem within the greater LGBTQ+ community.
“While the central theme of La Cage may focus on the issues of inclusion and acceptance related to the LGBTQ+ community,” says Brad York, ABT Director of Marketing & Development, “our intent with the ‘I Am What I Am!’ teen-youth anti-bullying Impact Project is to broaden the focus of inclusion and acceptance among all people, regardless of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, national origin or socio-economic background; especially teen-youth who confront the demands and pressures inflicted by today’s modern, fast-paced social atmosphere. At the end of the day, we should all be accepted for who we are.”
On January 11, the cast of La Cage will perform at the One Community Block Party for Equality in downtown Phoenix, and several ABT and HTC staff will lead a panel along with other local arts organizations on the importance of inclusion in the arts and in the state of Arizona. Find more information on the Block Party at http://bit.ly/OCBPE2020.
ABT will also partner with One n Ten, whose mission is to serve LGBTQ+ youth and young adults ages 11-24. One-n-Ten provides empowering social and service programs that promote self-expression, self-acceptance, leadership development, and healthy life choices.
As part of this partnership, ABT will host fifty-six One n Ten participants at the opening night of La Cage in Peoria on January 24. The youth will be treated to chartered transportation to and from ABT, a free performance of La Cage aux Folles, and complimentary dessert at intermission, followed by a meet and greet with the cast after the show. On March 11, ABT and HTC staff, project sponsors, and the cast of La Cage will visit the One n Ten facility in downtown Phoenix to learn more about the important work One n Ten is doing to improve the lives of young adults. Learn more about One n Ten at https://onenten.org/.
For the run of La Cage at HTC, partial funding has been provided by the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture through appropriations from the Phoenix City Council.
We’d like to thank our sponsors for La Cage and this important impact project, Jim Cramer, Allen Kalchik, Judd Barlow, Matt Peterson, and Linda & Scarlett Buscemi-Spring.