Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The big voice back from the brink and alive in Olympia

Do you absolutely love Broadway musicals?

Nah, me either. Funny, huh? -- for a guy who makes his living writing theater reviews. But the truth is, I’m not a huge fan of classical/traditional ‘Golden Age’ (1940s to the early 1960s) musicals.

On the other hand, I love a musical that’s edgy and irreverent and maybe a little bit campy. I love “Cabaret” and “Rent” and “La Cage Aux Folles.”

If you have similar tastes, you’ll love Steve Schalchlin.

Steve may not be well known around here, but he’s a huge hit anywhere his award-winning musicals “The Last Session” and “The Big Voice: God or Merman” have played. He’s won awards including the GLAAD Media Award and LA Drama Critics Circle Best Musical and a NY Drama League nomination and others.

A decade ago when he was dying of AIDS, Steve wrote songs about his experience with the devastating disease. Surprisingly, many of the songs were outrageously funny. His life partner, Jim Brochu, wrote a play based on Steve’s songs, and thus their first musical, “The Last Session” was born. In story and song it tells the tale of Gideon, a former gospel singer who crossed over to become a Pop star. Gideon is dying of AIDS, and he clashes in a recording studio with a fundamentalist Christian singer who adores him but doesn’t know he is gay. Jim described it as “the funniest play about suicide you’ll ever see.”

Just about the time the play opened Steve started on new drugs that brought him back from the brink of death. Today he still has to live with horrible side effects (which he sings about in a hilarious song that parodies military music and equates death by “Friendly Fire” with the side effects of AIDS medications). Now he and his partner have written and performed a successful autobiographical play titled “The Big Voice,” based on their experiences growing up as the son of a Missionary Baptist preacher (Steve) and a Catholic with aspirations to become Pope -- or a musical diva a la Ethel Merman (Jim).

May 10 at 7 p.m. Steve will perform a special Mothers Day benefit concert for PFLAG at Capital Playhouse in Olympia, with special guest star Jeff Kingsbury, who is gracefully donating his theater for the event. We expect tickets to sell out quickly, so get yours right away.
Tickets are $20. The box office is open Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (360) 943-2744.
More information about Steve Schalchlin at and

See the PFLAG-Olympia website also for more about Steve’s visit to Olympia:

1 comment:

Bev Sykes said...

Sounds like a good show. I'm sorry I don't live in the area. :)