“It’s Our Time”

29th Annual S.T.A.G.E. Event
Date: April 4, 2013 Categories: Blog Comments: No Comments Share:

By Our Own Scott Barton

In 1984 I was a fledgling independent publicist with clients as disparate as actress/Playmate of the Year Shannon Tweed, Showtime’s series of Gallagher specials (yes, lunatic-smashing-watermelons Gallagher), Olympic champion diver Greg Louganis and chef Roy Yamaguchi (who went on to establish the Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion restaurant franchise).  I also did the publicity for the esteemed Beverly Hills Playhouse and Skylight Theatre productions which brought me into the rarified and embracing world of Los Angeles theatre.

That same year, the country was beginning to learn about a mysterious “gay cancer” that was baffling the medical world and running rampant through my group of friends/colleagues/ associates.  In this milieu of fear, misunderstanding and bewilderment, playwright/authors Michael Kearns and the late James Carroll Pickett and director David Galligan came up with the classic Hollywood “let’s put on a show” idea to raise funds for members of the theatre community who desperately needed support.  The deluge of obituaries and memorial service notices in the trades was on the very near horizon as musical theatre vets including Donna McKechnie, Carole Cook, Billy Hutton, Betty Garrett, Dale Kristien and many others came together on a Monday night (because the shows that paid their bills were dark on Mondays) to perform at downtown’s historic Variety Arts Theatre for what would be called the Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event, or STAGE.  I missed that first performance, reading about it later in Dramalogue.  I have not, however, missed a single one since, and this year we’re staging our 29th annual gala on Saturday, April 6th, at the equally historic Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.  ( www.stagela.com )

The toll that AIDS has taken on the creative community far and wide will never be adequately measured.  But, we move on, and I must say that my involvement in this annual love fest pretty nearly makes up for the feelings of sadness, fury and loss that I acknowledge each and every day.  It nourishes my soul to spread the word about this event through the very supportive media, and I’m emboldened further when people come up to me after the show, their eyes red from tears of joy, laughter and empathy, and say “That was most amazing show I’ve ever seen!”  And I truly feel the collective cheer from Heaven’s mezzanine as our departed friends shower us with their blessings, too.

There’s a lyric from Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” that I sorta adopted back then as my personal anthem, encouraging me to keep pushing, keep believing and keep being grateful that the creative community does, indeed, take care of our own.

“Something is stirring,
Shifting ground …
It’s just begun.
Edges are blurring
All around,
And yesterday is done.

Feel the flow,
Hear what’s happening?
We’re what’s happening.
Don’t you know?

We’re the movers and we’re the shapers.
We’re the names in tomorrow’s papers.
Up to us, man, to show ‘em …

It’s our time, breathe it in:
Worlds to change and worlds to win.
Our turn coming through,
Me and you, pal,
Me and you!”



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