Musical producer

Producer and performer Brennan Srisirikul talks about establishing a center for people with disabilities

Bottom Center Disabled, a benefit cabaret for working artists with disabilities, will take place June 27 at 7 p.m. at Green Room 42 in Manhattan. Presented by Playbill, the event was designed by producer and performer Brennan Srisirikul to give performers with disabilities the opportunity to sing their favorite show tunes from roles they were never considered for but should have been. .

Below, Srisirikul discusses the genesis of Bottom Center Disabledthe importance of representation and the performance he most looks forward to.

How did you Bottom Center Disabled become?
Srisirikul: I have loved theater since August 23, 1998 when I saw The Lion King on Broadway. The truth is, even though I don’t have anyone else in my family in show business, it still runs through my veins one way or another. Honestly, the idea of Bottom Center Disabledcame to me like a flash. I was just sitting in my room when it came to me. I always need to be creative. I had just produced and starred in a few shorts and wanted to do something that was a live performance. I’m so glad I found this which also showcases my community at the same time. I took a lot of inspiration from Jerry Mitchell and Broadway Bares. I had the chance to speak with Jerry throughout this process and I have to tell you, this event, as Jerry says, is sold out!

Once the location was secure, I began to assemble my team of production partners and my creative team. I’ve known Danielle Pretsfelder Demchick for years and she’s a very dear friend, but I didn’t know Aaron Glick before that. I’m so happy to have him on board. He has been an incredible friend, teammate and mentor to me. I also knew I wanted the theater industry involved, so I reached out to Phil Birsh, the CEO of Playbill, and we had a meeting. It was Phil’s idea to make the tickets free. I am so grateful for Playbill’s involvement and investment. I am honored beyond words to have Playbill as our presenting sponsor.

I know I’ve used the word grateful so many times. But honestly it’s the truth. I’m just grateful for all the support.

Tell us more about host Pavar Snipe.
Pavar is an amazing disabled black comedian. Pavar and I share the same agents at KMR. When I approached our agents Gail Williamson and Katie McGrath along with my producing partners to see if they could pitch a host with a big personality, the first person they recommended was Pavar. I’m telling you, they found us the perfect person for the job. Not only is Pavar wickedly funny, but she’s also a team player, which I really appreciate. I see great things for Pavar in the future. I am thrilled to be a small part of his journey!

How did you bring together this impressive cast?
I have been in this industry for a long time. Because of that, there were certain people I knew I wanted to involve. An example is Fred Scheff, who was my voice teacher in college. When I was in college, Fred was just beginning his disability journey. Fred was the first person I called who said, “You’re doing this. I don’t really give you a choice. Apart from that, I collaborated with my producing partner, Danielle, who is a casting director. Danielle is actively involved in disability advocacy and inclusion with the Casting Society of America. However, my favorite casting story is when I cast Ethan Mathias. Ethan DMed me on Instagram asking me to play after hearing about the event online. I like that he took the opportunity to defend himself. It meant a lot to me. I also recruited Jelani Remy and Aisha Jackson to voice our two deaf actors, Dickie and Treshelle respectively. I am so grateful to Aisha and Jelani for sharing their talents.

I am also proud to say that I have chosen all the repertoire for the evening. It was probably my favorite part of the casting process. I’m such a musical theater nerd! Throughout our casting process, I was very concerned about building a diverse cast within disability. The goal was to compose our cast of people of all ages, disabilities and racial backgrounds. I’m proud to say that more than half of our company are BIPOC players. As an Asian American artist, it’s so special for me to have chosen so many BIPOC actors.

But while we’re talking about our awesome cast, I’d be remiss not to mention our awesome creative team that I’ve assembled as well. We have Lila Kane, who is our musical director. I know Lila from college like Fred. She was our school guide and one of my teachers. Like Fred, she always believed in me and thought of me as an artist. She’s been an incredible mentor and ally since I was 18, and now I’m almost 31. She’s the best musical director I can think of working with. I’m so glad she’s involved! She is one of my people.

Then we have our incredible director, David Alpert, who came to me from my producing partner Aaron Glick. David is absolutely amazing. It was very important for me to involve non-disabled people as well, because inclusion is about learning and growing together. I hope this will be truly felt by our audience.

What are your goals for this event?
We have several goals with this event. We want to showcase the talent of the disability community and help our company members gain exposure in this industry. Everyone knows that exposure is the key to success in any industry. Additionally, any remaining funds or money raised will go towards creating a training program of free master classes and workshops for performers and artists with disabilities. Honestly, being disabled in this country has a financial cost, and quality education is really expensive. I want to provide free access to high-level training for my community.

What performances are you most looking forward to and why?
As much as I love the adult members of our company, I have to say that I look forward to the performances of the younger members of our company. I would like to take a second to talk about it. We have four young performers in our company. They are between 10 and 16 years old. Their names are Sebastian Ortiz, Ethan Mathias, Nicolas Vivar and Jonathan Lengel. They are the most talented young people I have ever met, hands down. They’re probably sick of me saying it, but they’re absolutely amazing. I attended all their rehearsals on Zoom, and I spent the whole time in awe of them. They make me so proud. Seriously, I couldn’t be more proud of each of them – their maturity and the level of artistry they bring to the table takes my breath away. The public is in for a real treat with these four. Throughout this process, I really bonded with all four of them and their families. They are also really special people, who come from very supportive families. You’ll find me in the back of Green Room 42 on Monday night… crying, that’s how amazing they are. Their talents are so incredibly special, it makes me cry.