Six rising musical theater performers are bringing LGBTQ pride to the Off-Broadway scene this week with a night of show tunes.
A free cabaret show, dubbed “Broadway Gay Pride Sings Show Tunes," comes to Jax BBQ in midtown Thursday with a lineup of local artists aiming to stand up to hate through a singalong celebration. The show comes to the city in anticipation of Sunday’s Pride March and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.
Emily Qualmann , one of the event’s performers, says Broadway has long served as a way to bring people together, so a "Broadway Gay Pride" event at the Ninth Avenue restaurant just makes sense.
“I identify as a part of the LGBTQ community and I have always felt at home in musical theater,” Emily says. “With what’s going on around us politically, the best thing we can do now is to not be afraid to show ourselves, to sing these happy songs, our favorite songs.”
Tunes from shows like "Into the Woods," "Funny Girl," "Once on this Island" and "All Shook Up" will have a place in the performance. Emily, 22, of Hell’s Kitchen, will sing “Shallow” from "A Star is Born," in addition to four other songs. For her, this event celebrates theater for its role in supporting the LGBTQ community.
“The musical theater community has always been such a haven,” Emily says. “Ever since middle school, it has been the place where I feel the most open and accepted. I know that a lot of my friends in the LGBTQ community feel the same way.”
The event promises a free Broadway-caliber show, while giving rising performers the opportunity to celebrate pride. In the spirit of inclusion, organizers are hoping to attract a diverse audience.
“I hope [audience members] feel that theater can be accessible,” Emily says. “There are some amazing shows on Broadway right now, but they’re not highly accessible to a lot of people financially, so our goal is to bring theater to everyone no matter what their financial status is or where they come from or who they are.”
Emily’s mom and organizer of the event, Barbara Qualmann, 63, of Hell’s Kitchen, hopes that the event will leave fans wanting to head to the theater.
“We’re hoping that people who want to see people before they get to Broadway and perhaps follow their journey come,” Barbara says. “You can walk away from this and say ‘I saw them on Ninth Avenue before they got to 42nd.’ "
Emily will be joined by recent college graduates Greg Rodriguez, Olivia Fenton, Tyler Grigsby, Christian Jordan and Laura Mesrobian for “Broadway Gay Pride Sings Show Tunes."
IF YOU GO: Jax BBQ is located at 496 Ninth Ave. "Broadway Gay Pride Sings Show Tunes" begins at 8 p.m.