Did you know that last year only 17% of creative leadership roles on Broadway were held by women? To help change the stage, The Green Room 42 presents Changemakers: A Celebration of Women and StateraArts on Thursday, August, 22nd at 7 PM. Join veterans from Broadway, Television, and Film for tales of sisterhood, challenges in the workplace, and overcoming adversity.
The evening will uplift, amplify, and advance women* artists, featuring Tony-nominated Lyricist/Composer and award-winning performer Amanda Green (“Hands on a Hardbody”). Broadway veteran and three-time SAG Award winner Dale Soules, widely-known as inmate Frieda Berlin on “Orange Is The New Black”, will host. There will also be a panel talk led by Rachel Spencer Hewitt, founder of the Parent Artist Advocacy League. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the StateraArts Mentorship. StateraArts is a national organization that brings women into full and equal participation in the arts.
The evening is Directed and Produced by Mara Jill Herman with Assistant Direction by Ashley Ruth Jones and Music Direction by Julianne B Merrill. Below you’ll find a list of the incredible line-up of performers for “Changemakers”.
For a little more information about the evening, StateraArts spoke with director Mara Jill Herman.
StateraArts: First of all, thank you for hosting this amazing event in honor of StateraArts Mentorship! Why is arts advocacy such an important part of your work as an individual artist?
Mara Jill Herman: I can’t remember a time in my life without the arts. I’ve spent a great deal of my career on stage but I also find great joy in outreach. One of my passions is to bring smart, creative, and generous people together in a room. The arts provided me with direction, purpose, and a sense of identity that ultimately shaped who I am today. When those in power threaten to eliminate arts funding and programming, they send a message to all artists that we don’t matter. But we cannot compromise the human experience and erase a future generation of makers. Art is meant to challenge. It is meant to stimulate invigorating conversation and connect people.
SA: Tell us about your upcoming fundraiser: "Changemakers."
MJH: In 2018, I was deeply charged by Women’s Day On Broadway and wrote about it for OnStage Blog. I learned that nearly 70% of Broadway audiences are made up of female-identifying patrons but only 17% of those productions have women at the helm. This statistic shocked and ignited me. The Women’s Day symposium and more recently, Rachel Chavkin’s 2019 Tony winning speech for Best Director, are among the driving forces behind “Changemakers.” I admire those who seek change and do not accept the status quo. Women who take action and use their platform to advocate for greater representation both on and off the stage are among those to be featured in this event.
There will be never-told-before tales of sisterhood, mentorship, challenges, and overcoming adversity. These personal stories will lead into songs crossing various musical genres. We’ve got pop, folk, some musical theater, original songs, and even a Celtic trio! I’m also very jazzed that actor, activist, and mother, Rachel Spencer Hewitt, will lead a panel talk on the Parent Artist Advocacy League, an organization she founded that creates family-friendly practices in the theater. And Ms. Hewitt will engage in dialogue with some surprise guests!
SA: Tell us about a defining moment in your arts career when you felt supported and uplifted.
MJH: I’ve had several defining moments in my early arts career: acting in musicals at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, earning recognition by the National YoungArts Foundation, and getting thrown on mid-show as an understudy in Nerds at Philadelphia Theater Company. However, the recent catalyst for forging forward as a producer is my participation in America’s Sweethearts. This tight-knit group of supportive women motivates me and holds me accountable without a shred of competition. Our boss, Carly Kincannon, who will appear on the 22nd, also facilitated a residency at one of New York’s hottest entertainment venues, The Green Room 42. And that is where I produced my first benefit Stronger Than Hate, A Benefit for Tree Of Life Synagogue.
SA: Tell us a little more about the lineup for the evening.
MJH: The lineup is an embarrassment of riches! Tony-nominated Lyricist/Composer and award-winning performer Amanda Green (Hands on a Hardbody) will appear and three-time SAG Award winner Dale Soules, widely-known as inmate Frieda Berlin on Orange Is The New Black, will host. The diverse cast includes: Lianah Sta. Ana (Miss Saigon), Gina Naomi Baez (She's Gotta Have It), Alison Lea Bender (We So Hapa), Emily Borromeo (Broadway Bounty Hunter), Galway Girls (feat. Meredith Beck, Janice Landry, Caitlin McKechney), Carly Kincannon (America's Sweethearts), Liisi LaFontaine (Dreamgirls), Kara Lindsay (Newsies), Jennifer Lorae (Hard Times), Andrea Prestinario (Side Show, Jeff Award), Kristine Reese (Finding Neverland), Hannah Rose (Olay Live!), Talia Suskauer (Be More Chill), America's Sweethearts (feat. Amanda Lea LaVergne, Annemarie Rosano, Sarah Stevens), and Aurelia Williams (Once On This Island).
SA: With so many organizations our there, why did you chose StateraArts as the beneficiary of Changemakers?
MJH: I met Melinda Pfundstein at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2005. She was a well-established leading lady, and I really looked up to her. Years later, I saw her photo with Kate Shindle on the cover of Equity’s newsletter, and the national impact of StateraArts set in. In 2016, I joined Statera’s pilot mentorship program and found it so rewarding to mentor an early-career individual. The word Statera, stemming from the Latin word for balance, also resonates with me. There are so many women in the Statera community who thrive in their professional lives but also create and nurture families of their own. I aspire to be one of them.