Defying Inequality

By Ross von Metzke

Originally published on Advocate.com January 13 2009 1:00 AM ET

With Wanda Sykes
on hand to lend her support and a trio of Wicked
divas whose careers have taken off because of composer
Stephen Schwartz’s runaway smash-hit musical,
the cast of the Los Angeles production of
Wicked descended on West Hollywood hotspot the
Factory Monday night to raise money for a slew of gay
charities.

Eden Espinosa and
Shoshana Bean (two big-voiced, soulful belters who have
alternately played Elphaba on Broadway and in Los Angeles)
were joined by big-voiced, busty blond Megan Hilty
(Glinda in L.A. and on Broadway) and a slew of
Wicked castmates for the one-night-only event.

Like the L.A.
cast, Wicked casts in New York, Chicago, and
Louisville also performed in their respective cities to
raise money for Empire State Pride Agenda, Equality
California, Garden State Equality, and Vermont Freedom
to Marry -- four charities working to legislate
equality and protect civil rights for gays and lesbians.

The event drew a
unusual crowd to the Factory, typically WeHo’s
after-hours dance club. Wicked fanatics joined
theater queens on what usually serves as the
club’s dance floor to enjoy two hours of
nonstop music, fun, and blow-the-roof-off vocals.

 Stephen Schwatrz Wicked fund raiser x390 (courtesy) | Advocate.com

Bean and Hilty
kicked things off with a très gay performance of
the Barbra Streisand-Donna Summer duet “No More Tears
(Enough Is Enough)” before turning the mic over
to Briana Yacavone -- L.A. point person for putting
the extravaganza together – for her rendition of
“My (Guy) Gay.”

Yacavone, clearly
a WeHo staple, made it clear that she and her fellow
straight Wicked castmates stood together with the
mostly gay crowd in the quest for marriage equality.

She had help
bringing the event together -- it was truly a community
effort. L.A. club promoter Tom Whitman stepped in to pack
the Factory to the brim. His events throughout WeHo
have given L.A.’s gay scene a bit of a cultural
bent in the past several months, from his monthly male
burlesque revue to his weekly concert series at Here Lounge.

Mid show, Sykes
took to the stage with Noah’s Arc star Doug
Spearman -- both are Equality California board members -- to
thank the audience for coughing up cash for a good
cause. Spearman credited the passing of Prop. 8 with
galvanizing the gay community and prompting some
people to come out (cue one of many standing ovations
throughout the evening).

 Wicked fund raiser performers x390 (courtesy) | Advocate.com

A visibly moved
Sykes told the crowd that Prop. 8 had made gay people
good and mad -- and when we get mad, look out.

The evening hit
many a high note -- Hilty, who heads off to Broadway now
that L.A.’s production of Wicked has closed to
resume her role as Doralee in the new musical 9 to
5,
hit a home run with her take on the Heart smash
“What About Love”; Bean flexed her R&B
vocal muscle with the lead single off her debut album,
“Superhero”; and hottie Barrett Foa of
Avenue Q and The 25th Annual Putnam County
Spelling Bee
fame charmed the crowd with a
song and an impromptu shout-out to Phyllis Lyon
and Del Martin -- the first same-sex couple to be
married in the state of California.

 Joanne Worley Wicked fund raiser (Brian Putnam) | Advocate.com

Throughout the
evening, the performers alternated between entertaining
and reminding the audience what we were all there for.

Joanne Worley, of
Laugh In fame and soon to be Madame Morible in
the show's San Francisco production, lead a live auction for
backstage passes to the S.F. production of the show
with her trademark screaming of "Wiiiiiiiiiiiiicked."

Espinosa hit a
particularly emotional note when, kneeling at the foot of
the stage, she belted out the Judy Garland classic
“Over the Rainbow.” She was followed by
Schwartz, who, after reminding the crowd that in his
home state of Connecticut, same-sex marriage is legal, took
to the piano and sang one of his tunes from
Godspell, lifting his fist in the air at the
end and telling the crowd that we will win this
battle.

Espinosa and
Hilty, who closed the L.A. production of Wicked
together as Elphaba and Glinda, took to the stage one
last time to perform the musical’s finale,
“For Good,” singing, “Who can say
if I've been changed for the better? But because I
knew you, I have been changed for good.”

For an evening
that spoke almost exclusively of friendship, support, and
solidarity, the lyrics certainly rang true throughout the
Factory.