As a young actor, my first big break was being cast as the ‘Magical Mr. Mistoffelees’ in a brand new national touring company of the blockbuster Broadway musical CATS.
While I was ‘living the dream’ during those years in the 1980s, a nightmare called HIV/AIDS was sweeping the country, taking thousands of lives from our community.
As a company, we wanted to do ‘something,’ so in 1987, we organized one of the first large-scale benefits performances by a touring company to help those affected by HIV.
Amazingly, on September 21, 1987, we raised over $36K in one night in Kansas City. (Adjusted for inflation that would come out to around $82K in 2020!)
Fast forward to today, and another viral pandemic is here. A few months ago, one of my former CATS castmates reached out to say, “Does anyone want to do it again?”
And so, we did.
With Love, Now and Forever! Cats4CovidRelief premiered on October 23 and, so far, has raised over $21,000 for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.
And at this writing, the full video event is still up on the Broadway Cares YouTube page here.
Today, I’m talking to two of my closest CATS castmates, Grammy Award-winner Leslie Ellis and two-time OutMusic Award-winner Matt Zarley, about our recent company reunion, collaborating on this special, uplifting video event, and reminiscing about the experience that was CATS.
You can see Matt’s moving video segment featuring Leslie’s gorgeous new take on “Memory” on his Vimeo channel here.