Chicago's Music Box Theatre has held several recent red-carpet events to premiere exciting new LGBT films.
Opening night for the Reeling Film Festival screened the musical Hello Again on Sept. 21. While guests enjoyed drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the lounge nearby, several of the stars and production team stopped to talk with Windy City Times before entering the theater.
Tyler Blackburn, who plays Jack in the film, said he was a bit intimidated by the singing. "We performed it live while filming," he said. "I have been singing for a long time, but the way the music is written it is all over the place. They are not pop songs, so it was different to learn. It really got me out of my comfort zone. I needed to stretch as an actor." He mentioned a new thriller he has coming out soon called Tarot.
Jenna Ushkowitz, who many know from the television show Glee, plays multiple roles in the film and spoke of the challenges, stating, "Even baring my midriff while singing live was pretty new for memuch less having simulated sex."
She recently appeared in the hit Waitress on Broadway. "It was such an honor to be a part of that," he said. "Sara Bareilles wrote a beautiful musical. To work with an all female team was really wonderful and powerful. I loved telling the story every night." When asked about her favorite musical she said Les Miserables was the first one she ever saw and it has her heart.
As an avid LGBT-rights supporter, she explained that she has dated a lot of gay men and has lots of friends who are gay. "When I did the King & I at age 9, my parents explained to me why all the men were laying on top of each other at rehearsal. I was told they were really happy! It has always been a part of my circle."
Partners Tom Gustafson who directed and writer/producer Cory Krueckeberg discussed their overall experience with Hello Again. Krueckeberg said, "Every movie we have made have been music driven. We wanted to make something based on a music property. This seemed like an interesting, weird movie to try to make."
With such a large cast, schedules were a major challenge for Gustafson and the team.
The two added they met at Berlin Nightclub and their first date together was at the Music Box.
The day after Reeling closed, Signature Move debuted at The Music Box on Sept. 29. Directed by Jennifer Reeder, this film tells the tale of an interracial lesbian love story. Several of cast walked the red carpet outside of the theaterincluding writer/actress Fawzia Mirza, who plans to screen the movie at least 20 more times and hopes to bring it to Brazil for the film festival there.
Star Sari Sanchez said she hopes people will see themselves on the screen. "We filmed in places in Chicago that you normally don't see on film," she stated.
Actress Molly Brennan said she had to pull back from her theatrical gestures for the Signature Move film. She returns to theater playing the Ghost of Christmas Past in the upcoming Goodman Theatre production of A Christmas Carol. "It will be more like Carol Kane in Scrooged than the traditional version," she said. "I get to fly!"
Q&A portions followed both screenings.
See MusicBoxTheatre.com .