Broadway playwright Marc Acito (George Takei’s Allegiance) and composer/lyricist Amy Engelhardt (Grammy noms The Bobs) found a way to address youth homelessness through what they call a “waterfall of win.” This June, 100% of the ticket sales from their rock musical comedy BASTARD JONES will support the True Colors Fund’s work to end homelessness among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. The pair sat down with us to explain how it works.
True Colors Fund (TCF): So, what is BASTARD JONES?
Marc Acito (MA): BASTARD JONES is based on the 18th century novel Tom Jones —
Amy Engelhardt (AM) : Not to be confused with the Welsh singer of “What’s New, Pussycat?”
MA: The show is about young people who are outcast just for being their true selves, so it’s a natural fit for the True Colors Fund’s mission. We wanted the show to have a bigger impact beyond the people who’ll see the show in New York.
AE: So in order for all ticket sales to support the True Colors Fund, we’re running a gofundme campaign to pay for the production. We think of it as a cascading “waterfall of win:” donors get a tax-deduction for donating to the cell theater, which in turn employs over 25 artists who create the show for the ticket buyer, whose purchase goes entirely to end LGBT youth homeless.
MA: If it works, we’ll raise $40,000 for the True Colors Fund.
TCF: Ah, we see what you did there! $40,000 for the 40% of youth experiencing homelessness who identify as LGBT. That’s awesome!
AE: It helps that we’re waiving our royalties and Marc’s directing it for free.
MA: But we win too – getting our show produced while making a difference.
TCF: What made you choose the True Colors Fund as a beneficiary?
MA: I’m gay and I moved out of my house when I was a teenager. Were it not for my theater friends and their parents, who took me in, I can easily imagine ending up on the streets. And with Amy being a female rocker who writes musical theater, she has a lot in common with Cyndi.
AE: She and I both just wanna have fun. And equal rights.
TCF: So, what will happen to BASTARD JONES after this production?
AE: Broadway, baby!
MA: There’s already commercial interest in the show.
AE: But we’ve decided that moving forward, the True Colors Fund will continue to be a royalty participant.
TCF: Thank you!
MA: It’s part of our litmus test for finding a Broadway producer; if they’re not philanthropic and mission-driven, they’re not for us.
AE: That’s how we’ve assembled our team; everyone involved is kind of a bastard child.
MA: We’re the Island of Misfit Toys.
AE: The level of talent is off-the-charts. It blows my mind that all of these artists are willing to work for practically no money because of what the show stands for.
MA: Actors we didn’t hire have made donations.
AE: I know!
MA: It’s incredible. The generosity and good will are staggering. At a time when those of us concerned about social justice feel so powerless, it’s such a relief to have an outlet for our rage.
AE: The beauty of crowdfunding is that no donation is too small. A lot of people giving a little equals a lot.
MA: We really can change the world.
AE: Yeah, what he said.
BASTARD JONES runs at the cell theatre in New York June 14 – July 14th. Stay tuned for more information!