Tony Award winner BD Wong and videographer Richert Schnorr are re-conceiving the theatrical song cycle Songs from an Unmade Bed as a collection of music videos, reflecting life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The video will stream at 8 pm Eastern on Monday, August 10, 2020, as a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Songs from an Unmade Bed explores the inner musings and romantic life of a gay man living in New York City and was created by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning lyricist and librettist Mark Campbell with 18 composers: Debra Barsha, Mark Bennett, Peter Foley, Jenny Giering, Peter Golub, Jake Heggie, Stephen Hoffman, Lance Horne, Gihieh Lee, Steven Lutvak, Steve Marzullo, Brendan Milburn, Chris Miller, Greg Pliska, Duncan Sheik, Kim D. Sherman, Jeffrey Stock and Joseph Thalken.
First produced by New York Theatre Workshop in 2005 and released on Ghostlight Records not long after, the work takes on new meaning and provides unique perspectives in the wake of the current coronavirus crisis.
The stream of Songs from an Unmade Bed will premiere at broadwaycares.org/unmadebed, on Broadway Cares’ YouTube channel and on streaming partners BroadwayWorld.com and Playbill.com. The evening will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.
Wong and Schnorr, who were married in 2018, created the videos in their New York City apartment as they lived in self-quarantine. Wong stars; Schnorr filmed and edited the videos. Special guests making appearances in the streaming event will be announced next week.
“I heard this song cycle in my head back in March when we started isolating,” Wong said. “It’s from the point of view of a gay New Yorker ruminating about his romantic past and seeking connection, and it has a ‘parallel vibe’ to what we’re experiencing now. I wanted to make a film. I was in such a creativity drought and then I realized I was married to a videographer! When I introduced Richert to Songs from an Unmade Bed, he lit up. As we exercise the communication and give-and-take that collaborating with your partner requires, we notice it actually personifies our marriage vows. We’re sure Songs from an Unmade Bed will remind people everywhere of our own scrappy resilience and leave them with hope that everything will be OK, ’cause that’s what it did for us.”
Wong and Schnorr set up a makeshift recording story in their living room. All props and costumes are their own and reflect the adaptive skills all New Yorkers have had to exercise during the pandemic.
They enlisted music director Wayne Barker in San Francisco and recording engineer Jim Morgan in New York to help with the production of the musical score. Musicians David Michael Garry, Orville Mendoza, Dave Philips, Joshua Samuels and Doug Vannoni all contributed to the score from their respective home studios.
“The brilliant quarantined creativity that BD and Richert have brought to each of these fabulous song stories is unique, delightful and incredibly thoughtful,” Broadway Cares Executive Director Tom Viola said. “Mark’s lyrics and the work of the 18 composers are as resonant today as when Songs from an Unmade Bed was first performed 15 years ago. We’re honored they’ve chosen to reimagine this work to benefit their colleagues in the theater and entertainment industries who are facing illness and financial challenges during this pandemic and unprecedented work shutdown.”
Campbell said: “The contributions of director David Schweizer, performer Michael Winther and music director Kimberly Grigsby to the success of the original production of Songs from an Unmade Bed at NYTW in 2005 cannot be overstated. Their interpretation of the work was a model of spare elegance and subtlety and demonstrated a trust in the power of words, music and singer to tell a story. When BD Wong contacted me last spring to revisit the show during quarantine, I couldn’t have been happier. That he and Richert are producing it as a benefit for our many colleagues who are suffering from the impact of this pandemic is icing on the cake.”
BD Wong – Broadway: M. Butterfly (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Clarence Derwent, Theater World Awards), You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Pacific Overtures. Authored the critically-acclaimed memoir Following Foo (Harper Entertainment). Directed and co-wrote Alice Chan (La Jolla Playhouse POP Tour, co-written with Robert Lee), The Yellow Wood (NYMF) and Speak Up Connie(All For One Festival). Off-Broadway: As Thousands Cheer, Shanghai Moon, A Language of Their Own. Television: Mr. Robot (Emmy and Critics Choice nominations), Something’s Killing Me, Gotham, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, Law & Order: SVU (eleven seasons), Oz, All-American Girl, Awkwafina is Nora From Queens. Film: Bird Box, Focus, The Salton Sea, Mulan, Seven Years in Tibet, Father of the Bride. Principal photography for Jurassic World 3 (his fourth of the “Jurassic” franchise) begins in 2020. Currently directing the ongoing workshop of Mr. Holland’s Opus, the musical adaptation that he co-wrote with composer Wayne Barker, at the Wilson Center of Performing Arts in Wilmington, NC. He sits on the Boards of Trustees of Rosie’s Theater Kids and the Actor’s Fund of America.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has already provided more than $7 million to The Actors Fund since the pandemic started – $6 million from the Broadway Cares’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund and $1 million as a launch gift for Every Artist Insured. That help is ensuring thousands who typically work in theater and the performing arts receive essential medications, housing, food, utilities and guidance on insurance.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources, and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other critical illnesses across the United States.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts. Broadway Cares also awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., providing lifesaving medication, healthy meals, counseling and emergency assistance.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. The Lia Chang theater portfolio collection,1989-2011, is in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) collection located in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room and can be accessed here.