Development Team

Liesel Rein­hart, Writer and Director

is the co‐artistic direc­tor of LA‐based Speak The­ater Arts and Chair of the Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stud­ies Mt. San Anto­nio Col­lege. Liesel is the co‐writer of the nation­ally tour­ing work N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK and col­lab­o­rated with the Speak The­ater Arts team to cre­ate and direct Arme­nia­Ma­nia and Woke Up In Amer­ica. She is also a long-time mem­ber the Board of the Gay Men’s Cho­rus of Los Ange­les. Her pre­vi­ous artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tions with GMCLA include 2009’s music‐infused world pre­miere stag­ing of Tec­tonic The­ater Company’s Laramie Project: Ten Years Later; an Epi­logue. She is cur­rently in work­shop devel­op­ment of an orig­i­nal musi­cal col­lab­o­ra­tion enti­tled Limbo. Liesel’s aca­d­e­mic pur­suits address a range of sub­jects, includ­ing group per­for­mance, oral inter­pre­ta­tion, gen­der and eth­nic­ity, and learn­ing assess­ments in higher edu­ca­tion.  She is pleased to donate her time direct­ing this project in mem­ory of Mike Don­nelly, Marty Har­ris, and Ray St. Jean.

Morten Kier, Music Direc­tor and Arranger

is a platinum-award-winning singer/songwriter out of Copen­hagen, Den­mark. Morten, who has a Mas­ters in Vocal Per­for­mance from The Royal Acad­emy of Music, tours both in the US and abroad. He per­forms solo (voice and piano), with the vocal group m-pact, and as a lead singer of the band Gårs­da­gens Lys (‘The Light of Yes­ter­day’). He also works as a pro­ducer for other artists, per­forms as a soloist or back­ground vocal­ist on ani­mated movies, album pro­duc­tions, and TV, does vocal work­shops with Øre­hænger, and writes arrange­ments and hand­books for singers. Morten is the proud owner of the record label, Gule Plader, on which he released his first debut album “Fra en ny altan” (“From A New Bal­cony”) in 2008. The album release was fol­lowed by more than 120 home con­certs in North­ern Europe, a band tour, and sev­eral national TV per­for­mances. For 7 years, Morten was a mem­ber of the inter­na­tion­ally acclaimed vocal group Basix, whose debut album “The Grass” (2001) went plat­inum. Since July 2010, Morten has lived in Hol­ly­wood, Cal­i­for­nia. He is cur­rently record­ing mate­r­ial for his sec­ond EP release of 2012, and he works as a musi­cal direc­tor on 2 stage pro­duc­tions: “Limbo” and “It Gets Better.”

Billy Thomp­son, Accompanist

has served as com­poser, musi­cal direc­tor, accom­pa­nist, and per­former for the stage for over fif­teen years. His first full length musi­cal, Inva­sion!, earned him the 2007 LA Weekly The­atre Awards for Best Orig­i­nal Score and Best Musi­cal Direc­tion. He has pro­vided source music and scor­ing for film, soloed as a pro­mo­tional pianist for Mira­max, and per­formed with the Los Ange­les Phil­har­monic and Desert Sym­phony Orches­tras. He has held fac­ulty and fac­ulty assis­tant posi­tions at USC, AMDA-LA, and The Stras­berg Insti­tute, and is a Composer-in-Residence with the San Diego Opera Words & Music out­reach pro­gram. Billy holds a BM in Com­po­si­tion from USC and an MFA in Musi­cal The­atre from SDSU.

Mervyn War­ren, Lyricist/Composer

is a five-time Grammy-Award win­ner and 10-time Grammy nom­i­nee who has com­posed under­score and produced/ arranged/ writ­ten songs and lyrics for films such as The Wed­ding Plan­ner, The Preacher’s Wife, A Raisin In The Sun (2008), Liv­ing Out Loud, A Walk To Remem­ber, and Sis­ter Act 2. An orig­i­nal mem­ber of the vocal sen­sa­tion Take 6, Mervyn has produced/arranged/written numer­ous records for Quincy Jones, Whit­ney Hous­ton, Queen Lat­i­fah, Bar­bra Streisand, David Fos­ter, Boyz II Men, Michael Bublé, Donna Sum­mer, Chicago, Faith Hill, and many more. In 2010 he co-produced “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” and recently com­pleted both under­score and songs for the musi­cal film Joy­ful Noise, star­ring Queen Lat­i­fah and Dolly Parton.

Jeff Marx, Lyricist/Composer

won a Tony Award and a Grammy nom­i­na­tion for co-writing Avenue Q. He is a proud mem­ber of the Gay Men’s Cho­rus of Los Angeles.

Christo­pher Ver­dugo, GMCLA Exec­u­tive Director

was intro­duced to the gay choral move­ment at the early age of 18 when he joined the Gay Men’s Cho­rus of South Florida. Three years later he was made Artis­tic Direc­tor of Paragon Pro­duc­tions, pro­duc­ing the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions for cruise lines and hotels through­out the world. Upon mov­ing to Los Ange­les in 2003, he con­tin­ued his non­profit career with the National Gay and Les­bian Task Force, devel­op­ing their South­west region major donor and event depart­ments. In 2006, Chris became the Deputy Direc­tor of Devel­op­ment for Equal­ity Cal­i­for­nia (EQCA) before going out on his own in early 2009 with Chris Ver­dugo Presents, a fundrais­ing and event con­sult­ing firm that worked with such notable non­profit orga­ni­za­tions as Human Rights Cam­paign, GLAAD, Gay Men’s Cho­rus of Los Ange­les and EQCA, among oth­ers. In July 2011, he for­mally joined GMCLA as Direc­tor of Devel­op­ment and Mar­ket­ing and most recently assumed the role of Interim Exec­u­tive Director.

Joseph P. Nedeau, GMCLA Artis­tic Director

Joe Nadeau grew up in Ban­gor, Maine and in 1993 grad­u­ated from the Uni­ver­sity of Maine with a Bach­e­lor of Music Degree in Music Edu­ca­tion. In 1998, Joe became the artis­tic direc­tor and con­duc­tor of Heart­land Men’s Cho­rus in Kansas City. Dur­ing his fif­teen years with HMC, Joe led the cho­rus in four inter­na­tional GALA fes­ti­vals, per­for­mances (by invi­ta­tion) at national Cho­rus Amer­ica and Amer­i­can Choral Director’s (ACDA) con­fer­ences, a Euro­pean Tour, and mul­ti­ple col­lab­o­ra­tive per­for­mances with other GALA Cho­ruses. Joe has Master’s and Doc­toral degrees in choral con­duct­ing and reg­u­larly serves as guest speaker, pre­sen­ter, clin­i­cian, and con­duc­tor for regional, state, and national con­fer­ences and music fes­ti­vals. He has taught at every edu­ca­tional level from pre-K through college.

Bill Bow­er­sock, Producer

Bill has been a mem­ber of the Cho­rus since 1993 and has pro­duced con­certs for GMCLA from its first Alex The­atre con­cert in 1994. Out­side of GMCLA, he has pro­duced film and worked as a com­poser in both film and tele­vi­sion. Bill won the Los Ange­les Drama Crit­ics Cir­cle Award for his per­for­mance in Berlin to Broad­way with Kurt Weill, and per­formed with The Estab­lish­ment, the nation­ally known singing group. As a song­writer, he has earned two Top-40 hits, a gold sin­gle and a plat­inum album. Bill is a real­tor, a mem­ber of Cold­well Banker’s team, work­ing out of its Los Feliz office.

Rob Simi­noski, Tech­ni­cal Director

Rob Siminoski’s first foray into the­atre was at the age of 5 in a com­mu­nity theatre’s pro­duc­tion of Fid­dler on the Roof. He was one of 64 stu­dents from across the nation cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in The Ore­gon Shake­speare Festival’s Sum­mer Sem­i­nar for High School Seniors. He won a Sacra­mento Regional The­atre Award for his por­trayal of Dog­berry in El Dorado High School’s pro­duc­tion of Much Ado About Noth­ing. Rob stud­ied Drama at San Fran­cisco State Uni­ver­sity where he directed Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia, Bry­ony Lavery’s Frozen, and The Tem­pest. He is cur­rently a sound designer for The Groundlings The­atre and a Stage Man­ager at Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Hol­ly­wood where he man­ages Water­world: A Live Sea Spec­tac­u­lar, The Spe­cial Effects Stage, and the late Ter­mi­na­tor 2:3D. Rob is thrilled to be a part of the It Gets Bet­ter team and looks for­ward to a long and healthy run. He would like to thank his par­ents and his men­tor, Paul Tomei, for their guid­ance and support.

Jimmy Nguyen, Cre­ative Producer

is a promi­nent enter­tain­ment and dig­i­tal media lawyer, equal rights advo­cate, media com­men­ta­tor, and moti­va­tional speaker. In law, he is a part­ner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. At his web site, Jimmy com­ments about pol­i­tics, cul­ture and life, while encour­ag­ing every­one to SHINE. SPEAK. WIN. He also con­tributes to the Huff­in­g­ton Post,,, and Jimmy was named to a 2012 Huff­in­g­ton Post list of the “Most Influ­en­tial LGBT Asian Icons” and to Advo­cate magazine’s 2010 “Forty under 40” list of lead­ing LGBT per­sons. Jimmy is co-founder of the Amer­i­can Read­ers The­ater asso­ci­a­tion. He is thrilled to help bring it gets bet­ter to the stage.

Bri­anne Per­gola, Events and Tours Manager

Bri­anne Per­gola received her Bach­e­lor of Arts in Mar­ket­ing and her Mas­ters of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion with an empha­sis in Entre­pre­neur­ship at Loy­ola Mary­mount Uni­ver­sity in Los Ange­les. In 2008, she started her own busi­ness, Event­ful, a full-service event pro­duc­tion com­pany. Bri­anne worked on a vari­ety of events rang­ing from pri­vate par­ties, con­certs, galas, cock­tail par­ties, etc. She quickly devel­oped a niche in the LGBT com­mu­nity in Los Ange­les and has worked with orga­ni­za­tions such as the Human Rights Cam­paign, Equal­ity Cal­i­for­nia, Bien­es­tar, West Hol­ly­wood Library Fund, Queer Lounge at Sun­dance, and GMCLA. GMCLA has been a con­sis­tent client of Event­ful for the last 4 years. More recently, Bri­anne joined the Gay Men’s Cho­rus of Los Ange­les as their Events & Tours Man­ager begin­ning in Fall 2013.

Billy Rugh, Choreographer

has worked as a dancer/choreographer for 15 years; hav­ing danced in national tours, indus­tri­als, Europe, and the Bahamas. He is the founder & Artis­tic Direc­tor of Cre­ative Planet School of the Arts, a non-profit, K-8 aca­d­e­mic and arts mag­net for at-risk youth in L.A. (; his stu­dents fre­quently appear in GMCLA pro­duc­tions. Billy has chore­o­graphed or directed for Vox Fem­ina L.A., South Coast Chorale, Cul­ture Shock Los Ange­les, Cul­ver City Cham­ber Orches­tra, and Peace Child Inter­na­tional; with artists LeAnn Rimes, Lily Tom­lin, Jason Graae, Jen­nifer Hol­l­i­day, Stephanie J. Block, Randi Driscoll, Mal­lory Lewis and Cas­sidy Haley. As Artis­tic Direc­tor of CPSOA, Billy has served on the Con­gres­sional Arts Com­mit­tee Advi­sory Coun­cil for Sec­re­tary of Labor Hilda Solis, been awarded the David Chow Human­i­tar­ian Award and part­nered with the Phil Simon Clinic in Tan­za­nia, Africa, to cre­ate social the­atre between the stu­dents of CPSOA and AIDS orphans in Arusha.

Cur­tis William Fore­man, Hair/Makeup Designer

as a native of South­ern Louisiana, cul­ti­vated a 22 year career steeped in cre­ativ­ity for makeup and hair design.  Fin­ish­ing hair school at the age of 18, Cur­tis moved to New Orleans where he spe­cial­ized in wig/hair & makeup the­atri­cal design even­tu­ally yield­ing phe­nom­e­nal suc­cess as national trainer and plat­form artist. In 2003, he moved to Los Ange­les where he joined GMCLA and became a fea­tured soloist, also hair/wig/makeup artist for the cho­rus. Today, Cur­tis remains an artis­tic force in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia as a free­lance pro­fes­sional in spe­cial effects for makeup and wig/hair design.

Philip Hay­man, Cos­tume Designer

was born and raised in Lin­coln, NE, then relo­cated to Los Ange­les in 1980 to study at UCLA. He received a BA in Design in 1985 and an MFA in Cos­tume Design in 1987. Since then he has worked steadily in the motion pic­ture and tele­vi­sion field as a cos­tume super­vi­sor. He has worked on shows such as The West Wing, ER and True Blood. He is cur­rently work­ing on the tele­vi­sion series Sons of Anar­chy for F/X and South­land for TNT. He joined GMCLA as a singing mem­ber in 2006 and he has designed cos­tumes for the cho­rus pro­duc­tions since 2007. He is proud to be a part of this pro­duc­tion and happy to be able to share his work with you. Com­ing from a mid-sized Mid­west­ern town where he was rou­tinely harassed as a youth, Philip proves the adage that “It Does Get Better”.

Steven T. Sea­gle, Set Designer

Is the co-artistic direc­tor of LA-based Speak The­ater Arts and part­ner in Man of Action Stu­dios, cre­ators of Car­toon Network’s Ben 10 and Gen­er­a­tor Rex. Steve is the author of many acclaimed graphic nov­els includ­ing it’s a bird, Sol­stice, and Kafka. Steve is also is the co-writer and set designer of the nation­ally tour­ing N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK and also col­lab­o­rated with the Speak The­ater Arts team to cre­ate, direct, and design ArmeniaMania.

Kristie Roldan, Light­ing Designer

has designed for many the­atre, opera, and dance com­pa­nies includ­ing: the Gef­fen Play­house, the Los Ange­les Phil­har­monic, and Speak The­ater Arts. Her light­ing cred­its also include web broad­cast, tele­vi­sion spe­cials, and DVD projects for artists such as Rihanna, Ben Harper, and John Leg­end. Her the­atri­cal designs have been seen on tour both nation­ally and inter­na­tion­ally. Kristie¹s most recent the­atri­cal work includes: N*W*C with Speak The­ater Arts, All Hail the Queen with Lesli Margherita, and Some Girl(s) at the Gef­fen Playhouse.

Daniel R. Fisher, Producer

is an Amer­i­can banker/lawyer liv­ing in Lon­don as CEO of the Euro­pean sub­sidiaries of Wilm­ing­ton Trust. As a gay man who has been out and proud for over 30 years, he has expe­ri­enced and wit­nessed first-hand the dif­fi­cult but extra­or­di­nary evo­lu­tion of accep­tance, under­stand­ing and sup­port for the LGBT com­mu­nity glob­ally.  In recog­ni­tion of the work still to be done to sup­port our cur­rent and future gen­er­a­tions of LGBT youth in liv­ing proud and safe lives in a tol­er­ant world,  he is extremely hon­ored to serve as a Pro­ducer of the GMCLA’s “It Gets Bet­ter” project.  He ded­i­cates his par­tic­i­pa­tion in lov­ing mem­ory of his proud gay brother and won­der­ful man, the late Scott Lau­rus Fisher.

Matthew Jen­ner, Producer

is one of It Gets Better’s kick­starter super­stars who helped fund this project in mem­ory of Matthew Shepard.