Every day is opening night.

Wanda Sykes, Michael Urie & Lance Horne are special guests at GAYFEST NYC, INC Annual Gala 3/21

Rick Miramontez / Philip Carrubba
rick@oandmco.com / philip@oandmco.com





New York, NY (February 24, 2011) – Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, producers of GAYFEST NYC, Inc., the country’s premier arts organization devoted to the discovery, development and production of new LGBT-themed plays, have announced its Annual Gala, Spring At Last!, benefitting the students of Harvey Milk High School, will be held Monday, March 21, 2011 at Loews Regency Hotel (540 Park Avenue) with special guest appearances by Wanda Sykes, Michael Urie and Lance Horne. The evening’s activities will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, celebrity entertainment and silent & live auctions.

Headlining the event will be Wanda Sykes (“The Wanda Sykes Show,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) who has been called “one of the funniest stand-up comics” by her peers and ranks among Entertainment Weekly's “25 Funniest People in America.”

She will be joined by actor/producer/director Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty,” The Temperamentals, Angels in America) and composer/singer Lance Horne, whose debut CD solo recording, “First Things Last,” was launched at Lincoln Center and at London’s Garrick Theatre, last month, and is now available on the Yellow Sound Label.

GAYFEST NYC, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation, operates year-round and functions as a clearing house for new GLBT and other minority plays and their playwrights who address our lives, our issues and our concerns. Its 2010 Festival production of the musical This One Girl’s Story, book by Bil Wright, music & lyrics by Dionne McClain-Freeney, is the recipient of a 2011 GLAAD Media Award nomination for Best Off-Off Broadway production.

GAYFEST NYC, Inc. is committed to sharing its gifts and its dollars with the next generation and does so by supporting the students of the Harvey Milk High School in Manhattan, a fully-accredited, inclusive, voluntary New York City public high school focusing on the educational needs of students who are in crisis or at risk of physical violence and/or emotional harm in a traditional educational environment.

GAYFEST NYC, Inc. works throughout the year to fund its programs and once each year hosts a major benefit for the school. This event helps to pay for in-school education and mentoring programs at HMHS and contributes to the scholarship fund for the graduates.

The education program, now in its fourth year, provides an accredited playwriting class as part of the school curriculum. GAYFEST NYC, Inc. administers the program and pays two teaching artists throughout the year to facilitate this class. At the end of the second semester each year professional Equity actors (12 this past June) are engaged to read the work developed by the students in class. This is done as an assembly for the entire student body of HMHS.

The mentoring program has several facets. Throughout the year GAYFEST NYC, Inc. arranges and pays expenses for business and industry leaders (doctors, lawyers, authors, bankers, etc.) to speak to the students as part of the school's assembly program, providing guidance and inspiration to the students and serving to educate them to the fact that one can be extremely successful and productive as a member of the LGBT community. Many students, because of environment and familial attitudes, do not believe this is possible. The GAYFEST NYC, Inc. team also serves as mentors themselves by encouraging the students, with full support of the school administration, to participate as interns in its various theatrical projects and productions, for which the students receive school credit.

The scholarship program was established in May 2007. Since that time GAYFEST NYC, Inc. has awarded 29 scholarships to graduates of the Harvey Milk High School. A full list of recipients is available online at www.GAYFESTNYC.com.

Sponsors/Underwriters for the GAYFEST NYC Gala include Loews Regency Hotel (“Value is the new luxury. Fortunately we deliver both.”), Grey Goose Vodka, Trinchero Family Estates/Ménage à Trois Wines, Starbright Floral Design, and DG Neary Realty Ltd. Media Sponsors include Connextions Magazine, Next Magazine, TheaterMania.com, Edge Publications, Mark Nelson Events, Up & Out, and FunMaps. Event Chairs are trustees Jamie T. Ranieri and George Thomas Wilson.

Tickets are $150 and are available at www.GAYFESTNYC.com or at TheaterMania.com by calling 212-352-3101.


WANDA SYKES has been called “one of the funniest stand up comics” by her peers and ranks among Entertainment Weekly's “25 Funniest People in America.” Her smart-witted stand up has sent her career in many different areas. Sykes was previously seen on several television shows these past 2 years. On her own late night talk show on FOX, “The Wanda Sykes Show”. In October of 2009 for her second HBO stand up special “I’ma Be Me”. And in the CBS comedy “The New Adventures of Old Christine” as “Barb”. Her first HBO comedy special “WANDA SYKES: SICK & TIRED” debuted in October 2006 and was nominated for a 2007 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special. It was taped before a live audience at the Moore Theatre in Seattle, “WANDA SYKES: SICK & TIRED,” features material from her recent national tour. Among the topics covered are: politics, gay marriage, karma, healthcare, racial profiling, the pressure of being a woman and the perks of getting older. Sykes was seen in the feature films Evan Almighty, the sequel to Bruce Almighty, in which she co-starred with Steve Carell, the New Line feature Monster-In-Law starring opposite Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda, and was heard in the animated feature Over The Hedge for Dreamworks as well as The Barnyard for Paramount Pictures. She can also be seen co-starring with Luke Wilson and Uma Thurman in the romantic comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Sykes starred and produced the Comedy Central show “Wanda Does It” where she tried various non-showbiz jobs. Her first book titled Yeah, I Said It, published by Simon and Schuster, hit bookstores in September 2004. Yeah, I Said It is a hilarious collection of essays touching on life, family and current events.
In the fall of 2003 she was seen on Fox's “Wanda at Large” which she wrote, produced and starred in. She also has a one hour Comedy Central special called “Wanda Sykes: Tongue Untied”. In addition, she can be seen on HBO's “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or heard on Comedy Central's “Crank Yankers” as the voice of Gladys Murphy. Wanda was born in Portsmouth, Virginia and raised in Maryland. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton University. Her stand-up career began at a Coors Light Super talent Showcase in Washington, DC where she performed for the first time in front of a live audience. She spent 5 years as part of the HBO's critically acclaimed “Chris Rock Show.” As a performer and writer on the show, she was nominated for three Primetime Emmy's and in 1999 won the Emmy for “Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Special.” In 2001, she won the American Comedy Award for “Outstanding Female Stand Up Comic”. She won three more Emmy’s, in 2002, 2004 and 2005 , for her work on “Inside the NFL” for “Outstanding Studio Show – Weekly- Inside The NFL”. In 2003, Wanda earned a Comedy Central Commie Award for “Funniest TV Actress.” Other writing credits include: the “MTV 1999 Music Video Awards”, “The MTV Movie Awards” the “74th Annual Academy Awards,” “The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show,” and “Wanda at Large.” She also appeared in the feature films: Pootie Tang, Nutty Professor 2; The Klumps, and Down to Earth.

MICHAEL URIE is currently appearing as Prior Walter in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America at The Signature Theater. Other New York theater credits include The Temperamentals at the Barrow Group and New World Stages (Lucille Lortel Award, Drama Desk Ensemble Award, Theatre World Award, Drama League Nomination), The Revenger’s Tragedy (Red Bull), The Roaring Girle (The Foundry), Phenomenon (HERE), Another Vermeer (HB Playwrights), and WTC View (Fringe). Other theatre: The Old Globe, South Coast Rep, Seattle Rep, The Folger Shakespeare, Barrington Stage, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Hyde Park (Austin), and The Blank (L.A.). Film credits include Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Letters Form Bagdad, WTC View, Decoy Bride (upcoming), and Jeremy Find and the Meaning of Life (upcoming). On Television, he is best known for his performance as Marc St. James on “Ugly Betty.” He is a Julliard graduate.

LANCE HORNE is an acclaimed composer, lyricist, singer, pianist, producer, and music director, as well as a collaborator with exciting artists from around the world. His debut CD, “First Things Last” —featuring guests Alan Cumming, Cheyenne Jackson, Ricki Lake, Daphne Rubin-Vega, and others— was released on Yellow Sound Label. Writing in genres from musical theater to rock to classical, as well as Emmy Award–winning work for television, Mr. Horne maintains an active performance schedule on both coasts, in the U.K., and in Australia. Mr. Horne co-produced Alan Cumming’s debut album, “I Bought a Blue Car Today” (Yellow Sound), and debut appearance at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, concurrently with multiple seasons at the Sydney Opera
House, the Vaudeville on London’s West End, and the Geffen. Also in London, he appeared behind the keys for “Notes Unleashed: The Music of Lance Horne.” He has also served as music director for Justin Bond, Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie and Becki Newton, and Amanda Palmer at the Sydney Opera House; in performances with Sandra Bernhard, Jake Shears, the Seoul philharmonic, and the Boston Pops; and he has performed with Dwight Yoakam, Death Cab for Cutie, Adam Lambert, Ann Hampton Callaway, and the New York Pops. Mr. Horne wrote songs and arrangements for Vegas—The Show! at Planet Hollywood Casino and vocal arrangements for Little Women on Broadway. Film scores include Ready? OK!, starring Carrie Preston (“True Blood”) and Michael Emerson (“Lost”). Compositions for TV include the Lincoln Center Tree Lighting (ABC) and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for Diana DeGarmo (NBC). Mr. Horne received a 2008 Daytime Emmy Award for Best Original Song and the 2006 Jonathan Larson Award (composer-lyricist). He has served as an instructor at The Juilliard School for a decade, in addition to teaching at New York University, Paris’ European American Musical Alliance, and elsewhere. His musicals in development for London, New York, and Los Angeles are The $trip, Amandine, and The Center.

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