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*GGERWETB*CKCH*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.
E. Jason Armstrong, GMCLA Artistic Director
recently completed coursework towards a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the USC Thornton School of Music, where he conducted the USC Thornton Apollo Men’s Chorus and served as Assistant Conductor for the USC Thornton Concert Choir. Prior to his doctoral studies, Mr. Armstrong enjoyed a fifteen‐year teaching career as Director of Choral Activities at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Florida. He developed and maintained a highly successful and award‐winning choral music program that earned recognition as a Music Demonstration School by the Florida Department of Education. He holds a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the Florida State University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. His first assignment at GMCLA was to conduct the Chorus at a private performance for President Barack Obama in West Hollywood. He most recently produced and directed GMCLA members in a cabaret‐style show aboard the Crystal Cruise Serenity, featuring music from film and musical theater.
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 www.JimmyWin.com, Jimmy comments about politics, culture and life, while encouraging everyone to SHINE. SPEAK. WIN. He also contributes to the Huffington Post, Advocate.com, FWDNation.com, and HelloGiggles.com. 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.
Lee Stickler, Outreach Coordinator
studied theater and music at UMASS‐Amherst, Shakespeare & Co., The Shakespeare Theater in Washington, DC, and earned his MFA from West Virginia University, where he taught acting and voice. In Boston, he worked on stage, radio and film, co‐founded The Harrison Project actors’ training coop, and volunteered for AIDS Action Committee and other nonprofits. In Los Angeles, he has been an actor, set decorator, post supervisor and co‐produced the Joy of Singing! workshops before joining GMCLA in 2006 where he has performed in over 20 productions. As Manager of GMCLA’s Alive Music Project, he brings the Chorus to schools across Southern California to prevent bullying and promote an appreciation of LGBT contributions to American history and music. He also coordinates GMCLA’s outreach activities and community performances throughout the year.
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. (cpsoa.org); 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*GGERWETB*CKCH*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.
Amy Wangsadipura, Tour Coordinator
is currently a senior at UCLA studying Communication Studies. She previously served as an intern for GMCLA assigned to It Gets Better. A two-time national gold medalist, Amy received many awards in 2011 for her speech on the impact of the It Gets Better Project.
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.