Pride Films and Plays has announced that $5 of each ticket sold for each Friday 8pm performance of ALL THAT HE WAS, the Jeff-recommended musical that opened on Monday August 12, will go toward one of four Chicago-area charities that provides services and advocacy for those impacted by HIV/AIDS.
The first of these is the Friday 8/16 performance, which will benefit AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). AFC brings together service providers and funders to develop systems that meet the needs of those living with HIV/AIDS and to maximize the use of scarce resources. AFC manages more than $17 million in local, state, and federal funds for an array of AIDS-related services. By assisting government entities in planning, distributing, and monitoring service contracts, AFC helps develop provider expertise and promotes uniform and high-quality delivery across the region.
The Friday 8/23 performance will benefit Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN). Since 1987, TPAN has been saving lives through critical peer support and healthcare services designed to meet the needs of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Each year, their mission impacts thousands of individuals and families – through programs across Chicago.
The Friday 8/30 performance will benefit Chicago House. Chicago House empowers persons living with or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS to lead healthy and dignified lives, through housing and compassionate, client-centered support services.
The Friday 9/6 performance will benefit Center on Halsted. Center on Halsted is the Midwest’s most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland. More than 1,000 community members visit the Center every day.
The 1993 AIDS-themed musical ALL THAT HE WAS opened on August 12 at the Pride Arts Center. The writers have crafted a special version of the show specifically for the Pride venue, with new music and a newly revised script. With music by Cindy O’Connor and book and lyrics by Larry Todd (Johnson) Cousineau, this winner of the National Playwright’s Award and the ACTF Musical Theatre Award is a moving and surprisingly funny account of one man’s struggle with AIDS and the reverberations of his death. The deceased functions as host and narrator, invisible among the friends and family assembled to pay him final respects. Hoping for a day when the shattered pieces of his life can come together, he leads them on a journey of shared reminiscences.
Lawrence Bommer, writing for STAGE AND CINEMA, said the Chicago production is “Deeply affecting and remarkably complex…“Engagingly shaped by musical director Cody Michael Bradley, each song carries industrial-strength conviction from a consummate cast… Delivering some very great goods, director/author Cousineau has crafted a very communal labor of love.”
Cousineau directs the musical. The cast includes Matthew Huston as “The Man,” the central character who has recently succumbed to AIDS. Huston was a Jeff Award nominee for Performer in a Leading Role – Musical for his performance in YANK! A WWII LOVE STORY with Pride Films and Plays in 2018. Appearing as the lover, friends and family of “The Man” is Joe Giovannetti (THE MOST HAPPY FELLA and THE FULL MONTY with Theo Ubique) as “The Lover,” Brittney Brown (HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH with Theo Ubique) as “The Girlfriend,” Ethan Warren (SHREK at Marriott Theatre) as “The Brother,” Sarah Hayes (IT’S ONLY A PLAY with Pride Films and Plays) as “The Mother,” Rick Rapp (ANYTHING GOES with Music Theater Works) as “The Father,” Colleen Perry (WOMEN OF SOUL at Black Ensemble Theatre) as “The Counselor,” Sarah Ruth Mikulski as “The Sister,” and Alanna Kalbfleisch as “The Doctor.” Understudies include Grace Bobber, Ben Broughton, Mary Laura Godby, Haylie Kinsler and Michael Pesoli. Cody Michael Bradley will be Music Director, and the design team includes Shawn Quinlan (Costume Designer), Jake Ganzer (Movement Director), and Mike McShane (Lighting Designer). Rounding out the production team are Courtney Winkleman (Scenic Painter), and Bri Wolfe (Stage Manager).
ALL THAT HE WAS toured nationally in the 90’s, was featured at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and represented the US at the Festival Vox Humana in Barcelona, Spain, before settling in to a critically-acclaimed run in Los Angeles, where it received a Robby award for Best New Musical. The Los Angeles Times said it “Arches from dysfunctionalism, jealousies and misunderstandings to unsteady truces and well-earned unities …It carries on a bright, serious, witty and inclusive dialogue with anyone who may sit down in front of it.” The hit song from ALL THAT HE WAS, “Our First Christmas”, is featured on the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles’ 2018 CD, JOYFUL AND TRIUMPHANT, now available on iTunes.
Cindy O’Connor (composer) and Larry Todd (Johnson) Cousineau (bookwriter/lyricist/director) have a long history together. Most recently, their musical comedy FLIES! THE MUSICAL!, a hit at Pride Arts Center in 2018, was nominated for a Jeff Award for Best New Musical. Their other works include 40 IS THE NEW 15, which had a critically acclaimed run at the NoHo Arts Center in Los Angeles, receiving Best New Musical award from Stagescene LA and a GLAAD Media Award Nomination for Outstanding Los Angeles Theatre. Several of their songs have been featured in concerts by the Gay Men’s Choruses of Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. O’Connor was nominated for a 2018 Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score) for her work on ONCE UPON A TIME (ABC). Her other credits include CRASH (Starz), DOLPHIN TALE, and FORGIVING THE FRANKLINS (Sundance). Cousineau’s writing has been featured in animated series including YIN, YANG, YO! (Disney), THE NEW CARE BEARS, and ANGELA ANACONDA. His SONGS FROM MY CLOSET cabaret series is an annual hit previously at Uptown Underground and now at Mary’s Attic.
ABOUT PRIDE FILMS AND PLAYS
Pride Films and Plays produces a year-round festival of work centered on LGBTQ characters or themes that are essential viewing for all. Since opening Pride Arts Center in 2016, with our two intimate spaces, Pride Films and Plays is in many ways the center of queer programming in the Midwest thanks to our award-winning full productions, cabarets, film fests, new play development and special events. Founded in 2010, Pride Films and Plays has earned 36 Jeff Recommendations and Awards.
Pride Arts is grateful for hundreds of individual donors, especially the recurring donors in the Pride Society.
We are most grateful for foundation support from Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency, City Arts Grant, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Heath Fund, the Pauls Foundation, The Service Club of Chicago, Arts and Business Council, Taproot Foundation, Alphawood Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Elliott Fredland Charitable Trust, AmazonSmile Foundation, among others.
Pride Arts is grateful to support of Braintree, which sponsors our Pride Parade float, the Australian Consulate-General Chicago and Qantas Airlines, and the Consulate General of Canada, Chicago. Pride Arts is a member of the League of Chicago Theaters, Northalsted Business Association, Buena Park Neighbors, Uptown United, and Lakeview East Business Association.