If you’d like the shortest review for Ghostbusters that I can provide, it’d be this: It’s a fun, hilarious, if flawed action comedy starring some of the funniest women in movies and television.0004565435-ew-1420ghostbustters_612x380

It’s not hyperbolic to say that Ghostbusters is significant in the current landscape of Hollywood. It is both an example of the cinematic malady of reboots, remakes, and “reimaginings” of previously existing franchises as well as the agonizingly incremental shift towards female-led movies as viable properties regardless of genre. Unsurprisingly, then, that a lot of people would find “issues” with it, the reasons of which range anywhere from “Another reboot?” to “They’re ruining my childhood!” to, my personal favorite, “[insert expletives about women here.]” But whether you think Ghostbusters is the next step in the vast conspiracy of women taking over the film industry or it managed to “ruin your childhood” – somehow – I can’t stress just how important Ghostbusters is to the next generation of moviegoers. Yes, the 1984 film means a lot to the young men and women who grew up imagining themselves as Peter Venkman, Egon Spangler, Janine Melnitz, or maybe Slimer, but this new generation of girls and boys will be spoiled for choice as they get to pull from two casts of funny, smart, and competent Ghostbusters to emulate on the playground or dress up as for Halloween.

Having those options is a huge deal. Huge. As a tomboy who watched the gendered cartoons of the 80s and 90s, I often found myself gravitating towards the “boys’ cartoons,” which included Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, and The Real Ghostbusters. On the playground, however, I was still “the girl,” so I could only be a girl character because playground logic sucks. But it’s that basic kind of logic kids latch on to and when girl characters are ditzy blondes, secretaries, or the sexy evil counterpart while the boys get to play quippy heroes and awesome villains, it sends a message. Thankfully, some of us grow out of the gender binary as law mentality, but giving kids that ability to see male and female characters in similar roles goes a long way to ensuring they see equality as the norm. And if Ghostbusters can contribute to those future generations’ acknowledgment of women as comedians, action heroes, scientists, and yes, Ghostbusters, then the film is a success in my book.ghostbusters-full-new-img

What I find most interesting, though, is the way Ghostbusters addresses the “controversy” surrounding its main characters without really addressing it outright. It starts with a short, to the point question Martin Heiss (Bill Murray) asks of the Ghostbusters in the wake of their first successful capture of a monstrous apparition:

Why are you pretending to capture ghosts?

It didn’t really hit me until that moment, about halfway through the movie, that Ghostbusters, directed by Paul Feig and co-written by Feig and screenwriter Katie Dippold, is held up by a spine of subtext most women recognize immediately. The “controversy” surrounding the film being what it is, it’s impossible not to see the through-line that informs the Ghostbusters’ most prominent threat outside of actual ghosts: skepticism.

It makes sense, then, that Heiss, a skeptic, asks the question in such a condescending manner. He, along with the main antagonist Rowan North (Neil Casey), are part and parcel of the misogynist culture that continually thwarts women where matters of respect and legitimacy are concerned. While the movie itself never flat-out makes gender an issue within the plot or the story – save for an added scene blasting YouTube commenters and a quick, “You shoot like a girl!” towards the end – it’s constantly present in the external forces acting against the team. To wit, it isn’t a coincidence that these external forces are male. Heiss, Rowan, the ‘Buster’s secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), and the Mayor of New York (Andy Garcia) all present minor and major hurdles for the team as they try to prove themselves in a city determined not to believe them. ghostbusters-2016-ghosts

The most fleshed out character arc in Ghostbusters concerns Dr. Erin Gilbert’s (Kristen Wiig) struggle to be taken seriously as a scientist. At the beginning of the movie, she’s obsessed with getting tenure at Columbia University because tenure equates to status within academia. When her book written about the paranormal with childhood pal, and fellow scientist, Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) resurfaces, she seeks Abby out to keep anyone at the university from finding out about her dalliance in pseudo science; thus the plot begins. The importance of those early scenes, however, feed into the movie’s subtext. Erin wants to be acknowledged by her peers and her university; she wants the pride associated with legitimacy and the respectability that comes with it. Her concerns and actions are deeply rooted in how she wants to be viewed by the rest of the world, which keeps her from throwing herself into her true passion. This is reinforced throughout the film as the media questions the veracity of their first paranormal catch, the Mayor’s office’s actively calls them frauds despite knowing the city’s ghost problems are real, and Erin’s personal trauma of seeing a ghost as a child only to ridiculed by other children with the moniker “Ghost Girl.” With each new development, Erin’s frustration and her desire for legitimacy become more apparent.

It makes the scene with Heiss that much more significant within the narrative. Everything about how Murray plays him is a reminder that women are scrutinized far more than men when it comes to verifying their work, actions, and words. Protection of female sex workers, reporting domestic violence and sexual assault, and even the concept of “Fake Geek Girls” are only a few examples of how women rarely get the benefit of the doubt. We’re liars until proven innocent and even the truth doesn’t guarantee anything. To put it another way, when Venkman says, “Back off, man, I’m a scientist,” he says it cooly and with smarmy confidence. When Erin says, “We can figure this out. We’re scientists!” it’s said desperately, as if everything’s riding on proving themselves as such. And for Erin everything is riding on proving that, as scientists, the Ghostbusters can fix the problem. Her confidence and her self-worth are tied up in her credibility more so than Abby, Holtzman (Kate McKinnon), and Patty (Leslie Jones) so her departure from the team after being called a fraud, yet again, rings true.logo

It’s unfortunate, though, that the scene in which Erin leaves the team is missing from the theatrical cut of the film. One of the consistent pieces of criticism towards the movie is its pacing issues, which I agree is problematic. The story has been building to Erin’s crisis of confidence and departure from the very beginning, so to lose it and what I assume would be an emotional moment between her and Abby as long-lost friend reunited, then torn apart again, is an odd choice. It’s a pivotal moment and the loss of it adds to the messiness of the third act. Her return to the group feels less triumphant and less emotionally resonant when we’re not really sure she left the group at all.

Erin’s return to the group is similarly an important moment because of the message sent. Yes, it’s okay to doubt yourself. Yes, the world may constantly try to weigh you down and question everything. But it’s through the strength and resolve of friendship, of a community, that keeps us going. Erin is the most like herself with Abby, Holtzman, Patty, and even Kevin. She’s more confident, self-assured, and she pushes herself to do things she never would have done before – because her friends are there to help her succeed and lift her up if she fails. She, in turn, will do the same. If you take nothing else away from this movie, at least let that be the one thing that sticks.

If you’ve been on the fence about Ghostbusters, I’d encourage you to go see it because it is a fun time at the theater. There are plenty of homages to the original film, but this new batch is doing their own thing and carving out a new branch of the Ghostbusters franchise. Hopefully, a sequel will give Feig and Dippold more time to flesh out the characters and give us an even more entertaining story starring these hilarious women. More importantly, Ghostbusters is a step in the right direction for women in Hollywood. We can bust ghosts with the best of them and the more chances we get, the more this won’t seem like a “big deal.”

 

amelia

tattooed lady

Maud Stevens Wagner

 

You can check out Amelia’s tumblr and Facebook pages!

 

marvel-agents-shield-carter-daredevil

As someone who always identified with fire on a symbolic level, I’m proud to promote the latest anthology from Beyond editor Taneka Stotts, ELEMENTS: Fire. Not only is it an all-ages book featuring a plethora of artists and writers (the full list can be found here), but the choice to utilize the work of only creators of color inserts ELEMENTS: Fire into the greater conversation surrounding comic books and the lack of exposure given and value placed on creators of color and characters of color in a thriving and lucrative industry.

Artists: Kiku Hughes, Michelle Ngyuen, Sara DuVall, and Der-shing Helmer

Artists: Kiku Hughes, Michelle Ngyuen, Sara DuVall, and Der-shing Helmer

 

The thesis of the book is simple yet powerful:

 

Elements looks to add to the current conversation happening in the book industry: yes #WeNeedDiverseBooks, but #WeNeedDiverseCreators too. We are no longer just the sidekicks or token characters, we’re creators with our own stories to tell. In Elements we’re the main characters, dismantling tropes with our own stories that see people like us saving the day. Be it quelling a volcano, learning to fight with our brand of love, or breaking cyberspace, we want to let these stories and characters take center stage.

 

The purpose of the Kickstarter is primarily a means of paying the the contributors, another of many conversations happening around pay-for-work vs. exposure. As a writer, I can sympathize. Do you invest your time and energy in something that offers no money but promises “exposure,” which is already a vague concept to begin with, or do you put that focus on a project that will at least provide a monetary incentive however small the platform or the sum? Where do you draw the line and what do you sacrifice in the process? Obviously, Fire wants the artists and writers to receive compensation, not just for contributing but also as a visible means of creating value for their work. The comic book industry is still difficult to break into and it’s even harder for writers and artists of color, especially where mainstream comics are concerned, so every bit helps in terms of payment and exposure. Through the anthology and the Kickstarter, the visibility of the creators and the value of their work increases significantly.

 

Top: Marisa Han, Mildred Louis | Bottom: Melanie Ujimori & Chan Chau, Kou Chen

Top: Marisa Han, Mildred Louis | Bottom: Melanie Ujimori & Chan Chau, Kou Chen

 

One of the creators, it turns out, is past guest of That Girl with the Curls podcast Christina “Steenz” Stewart (Archival Quality) and I reached out to Steenz via email to ask her about her contribution to the book:

 

My story is called The Update. Its a sci-fi dystopia where the entire city is run by an operation system called PIOS: Pyre Intelligence Operation System. Transportation, where people eat, crime regulation… everything runs on PIOS. It’s just… better. But every once in a while the system shuts down and everything must be updated. And that includes the people.
It’s written and illustrated all by me!

 

And wouldn’t you know it, editor of ELEMENTS: Fire Taneka Stotts is also a past guest of That Girl with the Curls! Her episode includes some talk about Fire, but I reached out to Taneka via email with a few questions:

What’s been the most exciting aspect of putting the anthology together? What’s been the most terrifying?

The most exciting aspect is finding all the new voices, mixing them with voices that are already around, and maybe reacquainting myself with voices I haven’t heard from in some time. It is a variety that I seek when putting together any project and one that I find I benefit from greatly. I would say the most terrifying moment is usually sending out any sort of invitation to someone you respect and super admire and hoping you’re not interrupting their day while you wait for them to get back to you. Also, realizing if they accept your invite, then you have to be the one to edit their work.

Isuri Merenchi Hewage, Rashad Doucet

Isuri Merenchi Hewage, Rashad Doucet

What made you choose Fire as the inaugural element? What does Fire mean to you?

I wanted to show that I was serious and I wanted to make an impact. Fire represents serious business to me and I just wanted to spread it around. For some it’s a symbol of life, death, and rebirth, so why not make it the theme of my first project? For me, fire takes on many forms, from passion to inspiration.

What do you feel is the ultimate goal of this anthology? What would you like people to walk away with should they support the campaign? 

The ultimate goal is to have the printed book in all the contributors hands, to have it in the hands of the backers, to have it on library shelves and in shelters. It’s to be tucked under pillows, used to stop doors, and ultimately an emergency paper weight for those who have already enjoyed it a few times over. I guess what I’m trying to say is just for it to exist and for those who were part of it to be recognized even more as a result. I hope that anyone who backs this book realizes they are making something great happen and they are putting themselves into a position of power that tells other markets that watch us that they are tired of disingenuous representation.

Do you think crowd-source funding is a better means of exposure for upcoming comic book creators?

Yes and no. People die of exposure… from the sun. So you know, exposure is great but in moderation. I hope it’s something these creators can use to show why they deserve a place in the mainstream and why they should no longer be ignored but instead are a force to be reckoned with.

Why are you so awesome?!

WHY ARE YOU SO AWESOME?? That is the true question! I just wanna make books, write books, work on books and have fun. It’s important for me to at least have fun.

 

If Taneka’s fire and passion for this anthology doesn’t sell you on giving even a little bit, I don’t know what will. There’s only a little less than a month to go, so get on it!

 

You can find the Kickstarter here.

 

You can also visit the official website where creators are given their own spotlight and updates happen regularly.

 

msjcover2400Friends and readers, it is with great excitement and pride that I share with you my latest publishing feat! Some time ago I wrote a little short story entitled “Her Majesty’s Untapped Fury” and submitted it to the Seattle-based Mad Scientist Journal for their Summer, 2016 anthology. And now, here it is, Summer and the anthology has been published both in print and digital!

I suppose you’ll want to know what it’s about before you buy, correct? So be it!

“Her Majesty’s Untapped Fury” is about the discovery of the world’s first weather machine and the hotly debated “mad” scientist who created it. To reveal anything more would give too much away, but suffice it to say that the Archive and primary sources are heavily featured!

What’s that? You’d like an excerpt as an additional form of incentive? Oh, well, all right! Twist my arm!

While conducting research on the correlation between science and megalomania, I found
myself arriving at, of all places, the Royal Society. London has a long and storied history of men
in suits with egos the size of planets, so logic dictated that my time would be well spent rifling
through papers craftily collected as glorified tributes to the scientifically-minded God Complex.
My hope was that the rarest of rare instances might occur: stumbling upon the papers of a
genius lost to the ages. The odds were against me. Most of the interesting subjects had already
been discovered. But I felt confident that my wayward mastermind had to exist amid the myriad
stacks and collections tucked safely within the pristine walls of the Archives.

It goes without saying that my days were spent combing through the long-winded essays
and profoundly worded declarations preserved for the sake of posterity and little else. The
tedium, however, finally bore fruit when I began to notice a common phrase appearing in the
minutes, correspondence, and journals of prominent Society members during the late
nineteenth century. Plainly written, or as plain as elaborate script can be, it said “the Mad
Rodney wm.” There was very little context to the statement, and the more it appeared, the more
it began to take on an air of warning. Between the years 1859-1867, “Mad Rodney” was a
popular topic of conversation within the Society, despite their attempts to keep appearances to
the contrary. So who was he, and why did he inspire such hushed tones in an otherwise
garrulous group of intellectual gossips?

As always, the first one’s free. To find out more, you’ll have to make a slight contribution. Luckily, I have websites for you to visit where said contributions will not only finish my tale, but provide you with many more amazing tales of mad science to keep you good and entertained!

You can either go directly to Mad Scientist Journal to find all of the links!

Or, you can visit these fine retailers:scientist-approved-futurama

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Scribd

And don’t forget to leave a review on Goodreads!

Lastly, thank you to Mad Scientist Journal for the opportunity to submit as well as publishing this story that was tremendously fun to write. Thank you to my beta readers who offered their support. And thank you to those who will eventually read my story and all of the stories therein.

shark4Dear Reader, if it hasn’t become apparent at this point that I’m a fan of sci-fi B-movies, then I apologize for neglecting to reveal such an essential aspect of my personality. Thankfully, there’s a new Kickstarter campaign ready and willing to meet all of my B-movie needs while feeding my religion + intelligence + humor = Happy Sam formula. See my reviews of James Asmus, Jim Festante, and Rem Broo’s The End Times of Bram and Ben as well as Justin Aclin and Nicolas Daniel Selma’s S.H.O.O.T. First for further proof. So, with that frame of reference in mind, I’m very pleased to present Sharkasaurus!

Written by Spencer Estabrooks with art by Tyler Jenkins and based on Estabrooks’s short film of the same name, Sharkasaurus is, in the words of its creators:

…a horror comedy that pits creationists and paleontologists against the prehistoric Sharkasaurus. The story follows a pair of star-crossed lovers; the rebellious emo son of Paleontologist falls for the promiscuous daughter of a widowed creationist. After they accidentally awaken a prehistoric tunneling dino-shark, they must evolve their ideological difference or succumb to the inevitable jaws of Sharkasaurus. Set on the Heavenly Holes creationist themed golf course, the story is full of satire, incredible death scenes and epic one-liners. The characters, although stereotypes, are flawed but cheer-able heroes marching forward towards enlightenment and death.

shark1

First and foremost, the book is  about evolution and promises readers the satisfaction or disgust of watching characters grow and change in the face of death. It’s always in those moments of heightened emotions that we face our true nature, so I’m looking forward to watching the cookie-cutter, trope-laden characters break out of their molds once the Sharkasaurus arrives. Yes, that is a sentence I just wrote.

I must confess I’ve never seen any of Estabrooks’s work, but from the way he describes it there’s plenty to sink your teeth into – so to speak. I am, however, very familiar with artist Tyler Jenkin’s work, namely Peter Panzerfaust, Neverboy, and Snowblind. Jenkins is top notch and the preview art already has me excited for what’s in store.

If you need further convincing, check out the Kickstarter page, and the many rewards available, as well as the official website where you can watch the short film that was a darling of the indie film scene last year.

If you happened to have your finger on the pulse of the comic book community, then you might be aware that Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction found some time between writing some of the best comics of the last five years (seriously: Pretty Deadly, Bitch Planet, Sex Criminals, ODY-C, and Satellite Sam to name a few) to create their own production company, Milkfed Criminal Masterminds Milkfed(MCM). With comic book adaptations on the rise and showing no signs of stopping where Hollywood is concerned, DeConnick and Fraction first made headlines last year when it was reported that their newly conceived of company would be used to adapt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals for television after signing a deal with Universal Studios. Going forward, MCM would serve as a platform for adapting other comic book properties, specifically creator-owned books.

A year later and Milkfed Criminals has moved on from a tumblr page to a full blown website with the recent official launch at HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina. Complete with a Milkfed panel, signings, fun and games, the team of DeConnick, Fraction, and the many collaborators and staff of Milkfed Criminal Masterminds began what looks to be like an exciting development in the world of comic book adaptations.

When I reached out to Kelly Sue DeConnick to gauge her level of excitement moving forward, she could only articulate it thusly:

 

Crazy excited. And scared. That’s a kind of excited, yeah?

 

And though Sex Criminals was the big property she and Matt Fraction signed on for last year, it seems that, though it’s still in the works, other properties might take precedence. Kelly didn’t offer up any other names but I’ve got my fingers crossed for Bitch Planet or Pretty Deadly finding their ways to television or a digital platform. I’m biased, so sue me.

I also asked if she and Matt would gift me a country of my choice when they took over the world, but Kelly is nothing if not an honest woman about her management style:

 

Oh, I’m not built for world domination.  I’ve got my hands full running our household, shit.

Matt-Fraction_Kelly_Sue_DeConnick

If you’re a loyal reader of Maniacal Geek or a frequent listener of That Girl with the Curls podcast, you’re probably aware of my love for the DeConnick/Fraction household and burgeoning comic book empire. So, yes, I’m excited about the possibilities going forward for some of my favorite books being handled by some of my favorite people. Congrats to Kelly Sue and Matt and all those involved with Milkfed Criminal Masterminds for not throwing away their shot! Long may they reign!

And you should all go pick up the latest issues of Pretty Deadly and Bitch Planet that came out last week! Also, you can listen to Kelly Sue’s episode of the podcast here!

 

berlanti

supestv

 

For commissions, visit Elhoffer Designs and be sure to pre-order the Loki Jacket!

 

lokicoat

 

Check out the gallery of Catherine’s work below and be sure to follow her on Instagram!

 

cap dress

Captain America: Civil War

HamilGown-1802

Hamilgowns

Phasma

Phasma

Jakku Rey

Jakku Rey

Jedi Rey

Jedi Rey

X-Wing Pilot

X-Wing Pilot

Maybe “heal” is too soon to call, but I’m confident that when we look back on the reactions of people, nationally and internationally, to the horrific shooting at Pulse in Orlando, Florida, we’ll point to the broadcast of the 70th Annual Tony Awards as an important cultural milestone not only in its celebration of diversity but in its unabashed and sincere display of empathy towards the LGBTQIA community. From host James Cordon’s opening statement to Hamilton‘s win for Best Musical, the ceremony and its participants let their emotions drive their performances and their words. The victims of Orlando were truly in the hearts and minds of those performing in New York as Broadway paid tribute to the community that built it.

So let’s take a look at all of the moments that made this year’s Tonys so significant.

And as a side note, you should check out Carolyn Cox’s article about the Tonys over at The Mary Sue.

 

The Cold Open

Before the ceremony even began, host James Cordon opened the show with little fanfare. Just the camera on him, positioned from the back curtain, so those watching could see the full capacity of the theater; a theater full of the LGBTQIA community and their allies, a theater full of love and support, a theater full of voices crying “you are NOT alone!”

 

The Tonys have always made a priority out of giving it their all as a showcase of performance and passion. For many across the country and around the world the chance to see a Broadway production is slim whether because of geography or for financial reasons. And yet the lifeblood of the theater is made up of young people seeking an outlet for their creativity or a refuge from the world around them, so the broadcast takes on extra special meaning and importance for the theater community as it reaches out to the next generation.

The Hamilton Love Was Non-Stop

With a record setting 16 nominations, it was merely a question of how many awards Hamilton was going to take home at the end of the night. One shy of matching The Producers‘ record-setting 12 wins, Hamilton made an impressive haul, winning in several categories including Best Director (Tommy Kail), Best Lead Actor in a Musical (Leslie Odom, Jr.), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Renée Elise Goldsberry), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Daveed Diggs), Best Orchestration (Alex Lacamoire), and Best Book of a Musical (Lin-Manuel Miranda).

The hip-hop musical chronicling the “ten dollar Founding Father without a father” was all over the Tonys. Not only did Lin-Manuel Miranda’s company provide an opening parody of Hamilton‘s first song for James Cordon they also closed out the show with “The Schuyler Sisters,” a love letter to New York City with Angelica, Eliza…and Peggy proclaiming it as “the greatest city in the world.”

It’s not all that surprising how much of a presence Hamilton had; James Cordon is unapologetically Hamilton trash and he used the award ceremony to indulge in that love as well as pay tribute to the efforts of Miranda to provide entertainment for those unable to attend the show during the Ham4Ham lottery outside the Richard Rogers Theater. At each commercial break, the upcoming performers took the stage outside the Beacon Theater, surrounded by fans unable to attend the show, to sing a well-known show tune or a classic Broadway standard. Cordon even aired an edited version of his Carpool Karaoke featuring Miranda, Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Jane Krakowski.

But there were two Hamilton related moments that prominently stood out. First, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s acceptance sonnet after winning for Best Original Score. A man of compassion and intelligence, Miranda made “love” the word of the night as he paid tribute to his wife and the LGBTQIA community.

After his win for Best Book, Miranda told reporters, “Theater doesn’t exist without the LGBT Community. It’s the cornerstone of our industry and it’s heavy in my heart tonight.”

Secondly, the performance of “History Has It’s Eyes on You” and “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” showed exactly why Hamilton has become such a significant piece of art. Getting three separate introductions from James Cordon, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and Common respectively, the words and intent of the songs, not unlike the actual words of the Founding Fathers, took on new meaning. Out of respect for the victims in Orlando, Miranda and company performed without the prop muskets that would normally be featured, but I can say that their presence was barely noted as somber lyrics like “the world turned upside down” and “history has its eyes on you” reverberated through the Beacon Theater. It was a poignant moment as if the songs were chosen for a reason, sending a message to all those watching. Even the victorious shouts of “We won!” held back barely contained pride, joy, and rage. Hamilton secured its spot as the voice of a generation in that moment.

Frank Langella Pays Tribute to Orlando

After winning the award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in The Father, veteran actor Frank Langella forfeited the typical list of thank yous and instead commented on the Orlando shooting.

People of Color Sweep Major Awards

As mentioned before, Hamilton‘s Leslie Odom, Jr., Daveed Diggs, and Renée Elise Goldsberry took home awards for acting in a musical. Add to that list The Color Purple‘s Cynthia Erivo’s win for Best Lead Actress in a Musical and all four categories for acting in a musical were won by people of color. It’s a bittersweet moment of triumph since it’s the first time in the history of the Tonys that this has happened, but given the plethora of people of color nominated for Tonys this year, Broadway’s biggest night showed far more effort in promoting and encouraging diversity than the Oscars.

Speaking of which…

Diversity Steals the Showerivo

With so many people of color nominated, the plays and musicals nominated were just as diverse in their subject matter and significance to our current culture. Hamilton showed the parallels between modern and Revolutionary America through the lens of postmodern storytelling. Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed brought context to the Jazz Age play; the first to star an entirely black cast and a desegregated orchestra. The Tony performance also featured the incomparable Audra McDonald doing a tap routine while very pregnant! The Color Purple celebrated the hard work, struggle, and drive of black women finding strength in themselves and in the people they love. Worth noting was Cynthia Erivo’s powerhouse performance as Celie during the show. She brought the house down and showed why the Tony was hers to win. Even the revival of Fiddler on the Roof found significance as a celebration of faith through the struggle of the Jewish community in turn of the century Russia.

The most intriguing performance, however, was the revival of Spring Awakening with a cast made up of deaf and hearing as well as differently abled actors. Marlee Matlin, who made her Broadway debut in the Deaf West production, introduced the performance, noting that the themes of the play are universal but the deafness of some of the principal actors gives greater meaning to a musical about the failure of adults to listen to their children.

Of course one night of music and awards can’t erase the tragedy this country, specifically the LGBTQIA community, experienced, but in their own way the Tonys gave us a brief distraction. It was a generous gift and I thank them for that with all of my heart.

If you’d like to help the victims of the Orlando shooting, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund

Kate Leth also posted a roundup of pertinent links for various donations and trauma counseling. You can go here: http://kateordie.tumblr.com/post/145813044112/anyone-in-orlando-or-has-followers-from-the-area