About the it gets better tour

IIGB-white-logo-vector-stackedt gets better. Dan Savage’s three simple words reach into the hearts of our LGBTQ youth and inspire them with the message that darkness can give way to a brighter future. Over time, this credo has quickly evolved into a massive grass roots campaign going viral with over 50,000 videos (including President Obama and GMCLA) and amassing over 50 million combined views. To learn more about the It Gets Better Project,  click here.
The it gets better Tour takes this profound message one step further, as a small but dedicated ensemble travels to communities nationwide to produce a week of educational workshops culminating in a moving musical theater performance.  The week highlights anti-bullying, tolerance and acceptance through community roundtable discussions, high school visits, it gets better videos, and creative exercises.  Local choirs join the cast onstage for the final performance – an exciting and funny story with moments of both pain and pathos, featuring poignant narratives of growing up gay.

This cutting edge tour brings out the best of the human spirit and dares to transform communities across the country, one week at a time.

The work explores what “better” means for LGBT youth through stories, songs and multimedia on an array of challenging themes. With its unqualified support of all young people, it gets better creates and unites allies in solidarity against the pervasive (and growing) climate of bullying and teen violence.

An 8-member cast of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) forms the core of the touring production. Over the course of a one-week residency, these artists collaborate with local performers, citizens, and educational and government institutions in building a community performance responding to the issue of bullying in local schools. GMCLA is bringing with them a fully formed program including dynamic musical content and video production elements appropriate to the theme, into which are woven local participants and local content. Detailed information about the Artist in Residency Program can be found in the For Educators section of the it gets better website.

Traveling with the chorus members are the musical director, stage manager and the community outreach coordinator, all focused on integrating the local participants into the finished performance with GMCLA.

The it gets better Tour, is a collaboration between the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Speak Theater Arts and the It Gets Better Project.

it gets better is licensed for live performance exclusively by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles for touring direction by David Lieberman/Artists Representatives.

it gets better is co-produced by Speak Theater Arts and directed by Liesel Reinhart.

The Cast

Jason Currie

Jason-Currie-235-150x150Originally from Atlanta GA, Jason Currie moved to New York to study opera at The Juilliard School. After receiving his Bachelor of Music he began to take himself a little less seriously and headed to LA where he began studying at The Groundlings Improv School. There Jason formed the improv team Jetson Lounge and the sketch group Fred For Nothing. Jason’s credits include the film Naked Boys Singing, Zeke and Luther and The Young and the Restless. JasonCurrie.com @JasonWCurrie

Tyler Houston

Tyler-Houston-150-NewTyler Hous­ton was born on Cape Cod, Mass­a­chu­setts and grew up both in New Eng­land and the Mid­west. He began pur­su­ing his per­for­mance career from an early age where at 18 he won the First Place Clas­si­cal Singer Award from the Cleve­land Insti­tute of Music. After study­ing vocal per­for­mance at the CIM con­ser­va­tory he moved to Los Ange­les, CA. He has per­formed in a vari­ety of the­atri­cal and oper­atic pro­duc­tions such as Jesus in God­spell, Gas­ton in La Travi­ata, Pip­pin in Pip­pin and so on. Tyler is also a record­ing artist and is currently working on his first record (a collection of standards, jazz, and originals). He has recently been accepted to the Vocal Performance program at UCLA for Fall of 2014. Fol­low at www.tyler-houston.com

Amber Hurst-Martin

Amber-Hurst-Martin-150Amber Hurst-Martin is so grateful to be a part of this amazing project. After receiving her B.A. in Music from Fordham College at Lincoln Center, she was cast in the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar (Disciple/Soul Sister) where she performed for two seasons before joining the cast of Disney Cruise Lines (Circle of Life Soloist). Other favorite roles include Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Love to Judy, Nicky, Michael and Deezy. amberhurstmartin.com

Caitlin Leow

Caitlin Leow - it gets better tour cast memberCaitlin was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio and grew up singing, acting and playing instruments. She studied Theatre at The Ohio State University, and, in 2012, moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams in entertainment. Since living in LA, Caitlin has performed with rock bands in venues like The Viper Room and The House of Blues and acted in several short films and plays. She is excited to join GMCLA in the It Gets Better Tour because they combine her passion for music and her passion to serve others.

Nick Ley

Nick Ley - it gets better tour cast memberNick Ley is overjoyed to be joining the It Gets Better Project this year!  Recent credits include the national tour of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the Musical, Alice Formerly of Wonderland at the Wyoming Theatre Festival, and Romeo and Shipwrecked! at International City Theatre in Long Beach, Calif.  He would like to thank his fellow cast and crew for welcoming him into this loving and generous family of artists.  And he would also like to thank his loving partner, Garen Lavender.  ​

Tod Macofsky

Tod-Macofsky-235-150x150Tod Macofsky is a native of Los Angeles and has been performing there for over 25 years. After studying theatre directing at UCLA, he began doing cruise ship production shows. Tod’s claim to fame is as the original Bris boy in the hit review Naked Boys Singing! at the Celebration Theatre in Hollywood for which he won an LA Weekly Award for Best Musical Ensemble. He has been a proud member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles for the past 11 years and of the spin-off five-man a cappella group ‘N Pynk. Tod is the co-writer and one-half of the comic cabaret duo Mack & Poppy. Recently, Tod played a shot, frozen and decapitated dead body on the ABC-TV show Castle.

Mario Mosley

Mario Mosley attended the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television and has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He’s recorded and performed as a Background Vocalist for many artists, including Kelly Clarkson. Some of his film credits include Dreamgirls, Walk Hard and Baseketball. Television credits include MADtv, Malcolm & Eddie, Hype, The Parkers and iCarly.

His stage credits include Michael’s Jackson’s Sisterella, Wedding Band, Play On!, and the role of Clopin in Notre Dame De Paris. He also originated the role of L. Ron Hoover in the world-premiere of multi-award nominated, Frank Zappa’s… Joe’s Garage. Most recently, he was featured as a Guest Host on the Fox hit “Hell’s Kitchen,” appeared as a Guest Expert on season 3 of Rupaul’s Drag U., wrapped shooting of the featured film “The Famous Joe Project” (Ryan), as well as the shorts “Peephole” (Roberto Reyes), “Oxygen” (Captain Thomas). Currently he is starring as “Flip” in a hilarious, new web series called “The Shop”.

Billy Thompson, Accompanist

Billy ThompsonBilly has served as composer, musical director, accompanist, and performer for the stage for over fifteen years. His first full length musical, Invasion!, earned him the 2007 LA Weekly Theatre Awards for Best Original Score and Best Musical Direction. He has provided source music and scoring for film, soloed as a promotional pianist for Miramax, and performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Desert Symphony Orchestras. He has held faculty and faculty assistant positions at USC, AMDA-LA, and The Strasberg Institute, and is a Composer-in-Residence with the San Diego Opera Words & Music outreach program. Billy holds a BM in Composition from USC and an MFA in Musical Theatre from SDSU.

Gina Young

Gina-Young-150Gina Young is the black sheep in a family of opera singers and liturgical musicians. She has always been a writer and singer, touring the US and Europe for years with music and theatre projects ranging from folk to punk to performance art pop duo Team Gina, who reached over a quarter of a million hits on YouTube with their video “Butch/Femme.” Gina is an accomplished playwright whose play “Tales of a Fourth Grade Lesbo” deals with those confusing years prior to coming out, and whose newest work “Femmes: A Tragedy” won the 2014 Jane Chambers Award for Playwriting. She studied Drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is honored to be a part of this amazing cast and creative team who are putting such positive messages out into the world. www.ginayoung.com

Development Team

Liesel Reinhart, Writer and Director

Liesel-Reinhart-208x312-150x150is the co‐artistic director of LA‐based Speak Theater Arts and Chair of the Department of Communication Studies Mt. San Antonio College. Liesel is the co‐writer of the nationally touring work N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK and collaborated with the Speak Theater Arts team to create and direct ArmeniaMania and Woke Up In America. She is also a long-time member the Board of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. Her previous artistic collaborations with GMCLA include 2009’s music‐infused world premiere staging of Tectonic Theater Company’s Laramie Project: Ten Years Later; an Epilogue. She is currently in workshop development of an original musical collaboration entitled Limbo. Liesel’s academic pursuits address a range of subjects, including group performance, oral interpretation, gender and ethnicity, and learning assessments in higher education. She is pleased to donate her time directing this project in memory of Mike Donnelly, Marty Harris, and Ray St. Jean.

Morten Kier, Music Director and Arranger

Morten-Kier-Music-Director-208x3121-150x150is a platinum-award-winning singer/songwriter out of Copenhagen, Denmark. Morten, who has a Masters in Vocal Performance from The Royal Academy of Music, tours both in the US and abroad. He performs solo (voice and piano), with the vocal group m-pact, and as a lead singer of the band Gårsdagens Lys (‘The Light of Yesterday’). He also works as a producer for other artists, performs as a soloist or background vocalist on animated movies, album productions, and TV, does vocal workshops with Ørehænger, and writes arrangements and handbooks for singers. Morten is the proud owner of the record label, Gule Plader, on which he released his first debut album “Fra en ny altan” (“From A New Balcony”) in 2008. The album release was followed by more than 120 home concerts in Northern Europe, a band tour, and several national TV performances. For 7 years, Morten was a member of the internationally acclaimed vocal group Basix, whose debut album “The Grass” (2001) went platinum. Since July 2010, Morten has lived in Hollywood, California. He is currently recording material for his second EP release of 2012, and he works as a musical director on 2 stage productions: “Limbo” and “It Gets Better.”

Mervyn Warren, Lyricist/Composer

is a five-time Grammy-Award winner and 10-time Grammy nominee who has composed underscore and produced/ arranged/ written songs and lyrics for films such as The Wedding Planner, The Preacher’s Wife, A Raisin In The Sun (2008), Living Out Loud, A Walk To Remember, and Sister Act 2. An original member of the vocal sensation Take 6, Mervyn has produced/arranged/written numerous records for Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, Barbra Streisand, David Foster, Boyz II Men, Michael Bublé, Donna Summer, Chicago, Faith Hill, and many more. In 2010 he co-produced “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” and recently completed both underscore and songs for the musical film Joyful Noise, starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.

Jeff Marx, Lyricist/Composer

won a Tony Award and a Grammy nomination for co-writing Avenue Q. He is a proud member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

Christopher Verdugo, former GMCLA Executive Director

was introduced to the gay choral movement at the early age of 18 when he joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida. Three years later he was made Artistic Director of Paragon Productions, producing theatrical productions for cruise lines and hotels throughout the world. Upon moving to Los Angeles in 2003, he continued his nonprofit career with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, developing their Southwest region major donor and event departments. In 2006, Chris became the Deputy Director of Development for Equality California (EQCA) before going out on his own in early 2009 with Chris Verdugo Presents, a fundraising and event consulting firm that worked with such notable nonprofit organizations as Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and EQCA, among others. In July 2011, he formally joined GMCLA as Director of Development and Marketing. Following nearly five years as Executive Director of GMCLA,  Chris is now the ED for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Joseph P. Nadeau, GMCLA Artistic Director

Joe Nadeau grew up in Bangor, Maine and in 1993 graduated from the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education. In 1998, Joe became the artistic director and conductor of Heartland Men’s Chorus in Kansas City. During his fifteen years with HMC, Joe led the chorus in four international GALA festivals, performances (by invitation) at national Chorus America and American Choral Director’s (ACDA) conferences, a European Tour, and multiple collaborative performances with other GALA Choruses. Joe has Master’s and Doctoral degrees in choral conducting and regularly serves as guest speaker, presenter, clinician, and conductor for regional, state, and national conferences and music festivals. He has taught at every educational level from pre-K through college.

Kristie Roldan, Technical Director and Lighting Designer

Kristie has designed for many theatre, opera, and dance companies including: the Geffen Playhouse, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Speak Theater Arts. Her lighting credits also include web broadcast, television specials, and DVD projects for artists such as Rihanna, Ben Harper, and John Legend. Her theatrical designs have been seen on tour both nationally and internationally. Kristie’s most recent theatrical work includes: N*W*C with Speak Theater Arts, All Hail the Queen with Lesli Margherita, and Some Girl(s) at the Geffen Playhouse.

Jimmy Nguyen, Creative Producer

is a prominent entertainment and digital media lawyer, equal rights advocate, media commentator, and motivational speaker. In law, he is a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. At his web site www.JimmyWin.com, Jimmy comments about politics, culture and life, while encouraging everyone to SHINE. SPEAK. WIN. He also contributes to the Huffington Post, Advocate.com, FWDNation.com, and HelloGiggles.com. Jimmy was named to a 2012 Huffington Post list of the “Most Influential LGBT Asian Icons” and to Advocate magazine’s 2010 “Forty under 40” list of leading LGBT persons. Jimmy is co-founder of the American Readers Theater association. He is thrilled to help bring it gets better to the stage.

Brianne Cohen, Events and Tours Manager

Brianne Pergola received her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and her Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. In 2008, she started her own business, Eventful, a full-service event production company. Brianne worked on a variety of events ranging from private parties, concerts, galas, cocktail parties, etc. She quickly developed a niche in the LGBT community in Los Angeles and has worked with organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, Equality California, Bienestar, West Hollywood Library Fund, Queer Lounge at Sundance, and GMCLA. GMCLA has been a consistent client of Eventful for the last 4 years. More recently, Brianne joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles as their Events & Tours Manager beginning in Fall 2013.

Philip Hayman, Costume Designer

was born and raised in Lincoln, NE, then relocated to Los Angeles in 1980 to study at UCLA. He received a BA in Design in 1985 and an MFA in Costume Design in 1987. Since then he has worked steadily in the motion picture and television field as a costume supervisor. He has worked on shows such as The West Wing, ER and True Blood. He is currently working on the television series Sons of Anarchy for F/X and Southland for TNT. He joined GMCLA as a singing member in 2006 and he has designed costumes for the chorus productions since 2007. He is proud to be a part of this production and happy to be able to share his work with you. Coming from a mid-sized Midwestern town where he was routinely harassed as a youth, Philip proves the adage that “It Does Get Better”.

Steven T. Seagle, Set Designer

Is the co-artistic director of LA-based Speak Theater Arts and partner in Man of Action Studios, creators of Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 and Generator Rex. Steve is the author of many acclaimed graphic novels including it’s a bird, Solstice, and Kafka. Steve is also is the co-writer and set designer of the nationally touring N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK and also collaborated with the Speak Theater Arts team to create, direct, and design ArmeniaMania.

Daniel R. Fisher, Producer

is an American banker/lawyer living in London as CEO of the European subsidiaries of Wilmington Trust. As a gay man who has been out and proud for over 30 years, he has experienced and witnessed first-hand the difficult but extraordinary evolution of acceptance, understanding and support for the LGBT community globally. In recognition of the work still to be done to support our current and future generations of LGBT youth in living proud and safe lives in a tolerant world, he is extremely honored to serve as a Producer of the GMCLA’s “It Gets Better” project. He dedicates his participation in loving memory of his proud gay brother and wonderful man, the late Scott Laurus Fisher.

Matthew Jenner, Producer

is one of It Gets Better’s kickstarter superstars who helped fund this project in memory of Matthew Shepard.

Ted Farley, It Gets Better Project Executive Director

Ted is the Executive Director with the It Gets Better Project and has spent his career working to make things better for the LGBT community and struggling youth.  Prior to his work with IGB, Ted worked with the Alliance for Children’s Rights where he secured more than $10 million worth of volunteered legal services for children in out of home care.  Ted has also worked as an attorney with the Urban Justice Center’s Domestic Violence Project, where he represented low-income LGBT survivors of domestic violence.  In recognition of his advocacy, Ted was the recipient of the Courage Award from the New York City Anti-Violence Project and, in 2013, was selected as an Arcus Foundation LGBT Leadership Fellow.