Celebrating Stories Of Courage, Hope, And Pride
May 26, 2020
As a member of the LGBTQ2+ community in Vancouver, I am so happy that I get to proudly be who I am and love whomever I want. But I know things haven’t always been like this, and I’m grateful to the brave individuals who have stood up for our community over the years. They paved the way for us to live our lives. Musical theatre has long been known as a way to keep these types of stories and their spirit alive, and this summer Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) continues this tradition.
Both of TUTS’ shows this season, Mamma Mia! and Disney’s Newsies, tell stories about using heart and courage to tear down barriers. Mamma Mia! is about finding love and living the life you want, regardless of expectations and conventions. Disney’s Newsies is about challenging hierarchical powers that purposefully marginalize communities.
Through the magic of musical theatre, audiences are whisked away to see these stories unfold. No matter how far away these tales take place in time and space, people can always relate to the characters and see how the themes apply to our world. It’s my hope that audiences will leave not only entertained, but also inspired to continue shaping a world where we can all live our best lives.
At one point during Mamma Mia!, one of the characters will come out as being gay. During rehearsal one day, our director, Shel Piercy, explained to the cast why this would have been such a huge deal back in 1996, which is when the show is set. After all, the majority of our cast hadn’t even been born back then. To them, something like this may seem unfamiliar to the world they’ve known their entire lives. This is why we need to keep telling stories — not only to honour those who made it possible for us to have the rights and freedom we have today, but also so we can continue to move forward.
As a dancer, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a supportive environment accepting of diversity. But I know this wasn’t the case for everyone. I was at a gay bar last year during Pride Week, and happened to talk to a very nice older gentleman. The gentleman was overwhelmed with emotion as he observed the crowd of young people at the bar having fun and just being themselves. I remember him bursting out in tears as he was consoled by his partner, and it really touched me.
I can only imagine what the gentleman’s personal story is. I didn’t ask, but it further opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many people among us who have incredible stories that often don’t get told. And so, every time I step on stage, I want to help tell stories for those who can’t — I want to give them a voice. Whether it’s a story about LGBTQ+ rights, racial or class equality, high school bullying, or another issue, I want to help amplify messages of hope. We’re all in this together, and as a performer, I’m humbled to get to tell these stories and help create positive change.
What’s equally humbling is the opportunity to be a part of TUTS this summer. Presenting world-class Broadway musicals in Stanley Park since 1940, TUTS has touched the lives of countless individuals, whether they’ve been involved with shows or attended as audience members. Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) is of course another organization that has deeply impacted the lives of many over generations.
I’m thrilled that TUTS and VPS continue to partner each summer, and I look forward to our performance of Mamma Mia! on Monday, July 29, which is this year’s Pride Night. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the amazing ABBA songs in the show mean so much more to me than just being catchy and fun to dance to. When I’m on stage during Pride Night, I will be celebrating how wonderful it is for our community to be who we are and to love who we love — and also pay tribute to those who helped make it possible.
I’d like to thank TUTS and VPS for continuing to share stories of hope, pride, and love through the magic of theatre. I hope you will join us this summer for Mamma Mia! and Disney’s Newsies — two incredible productions that will move and inspire you.
TUTS Pride Night
Get $10 With Promo Code
Use Promo Code PRIDE10 and enjoy $10 off your tickets to Mamma Mia! Pride Night on July 29!
Redeemable now until July 29 – valid for July 29 Pride Night Performance only.
Purchase tickets here.
All images taken by Lindsay Elliott