"We're All a Little Green"

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com February 20 2009 12:00 AM ET

While Broadway is
always good for a laugh, a song, and sometimes a tear, the
people onstage can sometimes bring more than good entertainment
to the table. An example is the upcoming concert "Defying
Inequality," featuring cast members from shows like
Wicked, Billy Elliot, Jersey Boys,

and
Sesame Street,

and appearances by Cyndi Lauper, Keith Olbermann, and Al
Sharpton, among many others. The proceeds for the concert will
go to marriage-equality organizations like Family Equality
Council, Empire State Pride Agenda, Equality California, Garden
State Equality, and the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force. We
sat down with codirector Anthony Galde, from the cast of
Broadway's
Wicked

, who talked about putting on this enormous
production.

We've noticed that the cast and crew of
Wicked

has been very involved in the fight for marriage equality. Was
there anything in particular that rallied them together to do
this?

It's a very philanthropic group. I've been in this show
for five years. I remember one time I read a story in the
newspaper about a little boy whose parents couldn't afford
to get his hearing aid. So I came to work the next day and
said, "All right, let's make this happen." So we
got together and raised money for his hearing aid, and he got
to come see the show. This is a very philanthropic group of
people. We're very grateful for what we do, and that we
have this job. It's kind of like a government job.

And then there
are the themes of the show, whether it gets to you
through osmosis or not. We're all a little green --
it's not such a big deal. Maybe we should stop saying,
"Hey, look, there's a green person," and instead
say, "Hey, look, there's a good person." You
can't tell a story like this without it somewhere getting
into you.

How were you able to wrangle so many people into this
production?

When you're in a successful show like this you can either
puff up and say "Look at me," or you can be grateful
and realize that because of your success you have an obligation
to do something. Fortunately, that's the way this place
rolls. We went through the same sort of thing with [our benefit
for the victims of] Katrina -- that ended up enormous. As much
as the process has been enlightening and invigorating and
you've seen the company come together, there's also
been the other side. When you ask some people if they want to
be a part of this, you can tell that they don't agree with
you. It's been, for the most part, really empowering, but
there have been occasions where it hurts. There have been
people that I know -- it's like,
Wow, you don't think that I deserve the same rights as
you.

It's been very hard. I could cry right now.

Defying Gravity NY x390 (courtesy) | advocate.com

There are so many people involved with this show. How have
you been able to orchestrate this in just a few weeks?

It's actually produced by 4good Productions. We work
together so much that we just have a rhythm, a method to the
madness. Generally we're just four passionate people, and
we're especially driven because it's such a deep issue.
It's been interesting because it's three straight women
who are all married, and then there's me, with a 6-year-old
adopted child and in the process of a separation after nine
years, and realizing how unprotected I am.

Has your separation driven your activism for marriage
equality even more?

It wasn't intentional, but it's amazing how the
universe works and that this all happened at the same time.
When Proposition 8 happened the cast of
Wicked

started freaking out. Just talking amongst ourselves we decided
to do a benefit concert with all of the companies in North
America on one night.

A few years ago Jenna
[Leigh Green], Schele [Williams], and I wanted to do a benefit
for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, so we did what we knew we
could do, and since then we've wanted to do even
more.

Looking at this gigantic lineup, what are you looking
forward to the most with this show?

There's so many moments. I guess the fact that Al Sharpton
wants to get up there and yell about gay marriage. And Cyndi
Lauper -- she said, "I don't want to sing, I want to
yell! I want to say what I have to say." Honestly,
it's the straight people. What I'm finding is that the
gay community -- there's so much built into us by religion
and society, and our own government that we pay taxes to… This
is obviously something that the gay community is very
passionate about, but deep down inside, they don't think
it's possible. It's really sad. But juxtaposing that,
I'm seeing that the straight community is on fire. The
people that get it are so pissed off. And they will say
whatever they've got to say. It's so validating. Schele
Williams is black, and she says that when she looks at pictures
of the Civil Rights marches and she sees white people in the
front lines, she knows that they took a bullet either literally
or figuratively for that cause because they believed it was
wrong. She says, "It's my obligation to humanity to
take a bullet."

"Defying Inequality" will be
staged February 23 at 8 p.m. at the Gershwin Theatre
in New York. For tickets and information contact Ticketmaster
at (212) 307-4100 or visit
DefyingInequality.com

.