CHICAGO - Jeff Award-winning director and HIV+ activist Christopher Pazdernik presents the 6th annual Belting for Life (formerly known as Chris' Birthday Belt Fest), an annual benefit concert for Howard Brown Health, one of the nation's largest LGBTQ organizations. Belting for Life premieres on Sunday, May 16 at 6 p.m. CDT on HowardBrown.org and will be available through Monday, May 31. This performance is suitable for all ages and runs approximately 100 minutes with no intermission. Tickets go on sale Saturday, May 1 and are available with a tax-deductible donation of $20 at HowardBrown.org . Follow @BeltingForLife on Instagram for the most up-to-date information.
Belting for Life features 30 award-winning musical theatre artists performing music theatre and pop songs with music direction by Jeff-award winning music director Dr. Michael McBride. Performers schedule to appear include:Missy Aguilar* (Paramount's In the Heights), Alli Atkenson (BoHo's Big Fish), Neala Barron (Jeff nominee, BoHo's 110 in the Shade), Ariana Burks (Steppenwolf's Dance Nation), Darilyn Burtley (Lyric Opera's Jesus Christ Superstar) Cynthia Carter (Black Ensemble Theatre's Women of Soul), Satya Chávez (Drama League nominee, Where Did We Sit on the Bus?), Katherine Condit (original Broadway cast, Chess), Courtney Freed(singer/songwriter; Theo Ubique's Man of LaMancha), Lucy Godínez* (Jeff nominee, Marriott's Oliver!), Devon Hayakawa (Best Supporting Performer 2020 Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, Baked!), Angela Ingersoll (Emmy nominee, Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland, on PBS & on tour), Callie Johnson (Jeff Award-winner, Porchlight's Pal Joey), Jacquelyne Jones (Jeff Award winner, Theo Ubique's Sweeney Todd), Christopher John Kelley (dancer - Chicago Repertory Ballet), Molly Kral* (Porchlight's Sophisticated Ladies), Michelle Lauto* (Jeff Award winner, Spamilton), Donica Lynn (Jeff Award winner, Porchlight's Dreamgirls), Emilie Lynn (world tour, The Phantom of the Opera), Ally Cañizares Merrill(Round Barn's Big River), Samantha Pauly (original Broadway cast, SIX), Amanda Petersen (Vintage Theatre's Songs for a New World), Sawyer Smith (Jeff nominee, Mercury's Pippin), Kyra Sorce (dancer - West Side StoryInternational tour), Ayana Strutz (dancer - The Spongebob Musical national tour), Tiffany T. Taylor (Marriott's Grease), Ariel Etana Triunfo (dancer - Drury Lane's American in Paris) and Honey West (Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame).
*denotes Planning Committee member (Performers subject to change.)
Pazdernik's journey with Howard Brown Health began in 2009, when he was diagnosed HIV+. He has been receiving his treatments at Chicago's LGBTQ+ community health center ever since and even served for four years on the Community Advisory Board. In 2015, Pazdernik was looking for a way to give back to Howard Brown Health and raise much needed funds for the organization. As a popular and respected member of Chicago's theater community, he asked his friends - who happen to be many of Chicago's leading talents to donate their time and celebrate his birthday singing high-energy songs from musicals with 100% of the ticket proceeds going directly to Howard Brown Health and Chris' Birthday Belt Fest was born. Renamed in 2021 as Belting for Life, this special event concert has raised more than $10,000 for Howard Brown Health to date.
ABOUT HOWARD BROWN HEALTH
Howard Brown Health envisions a future where the health and wellness of LGBTQ people is affirmed with healthcare as a human right; where progressive social policy and enlightened societal norms uplift the lives of LGBTQ people and their families; and where affordable, accessible, and culturally competent care from non-judgmental healthcare professionals is available and provided to all who seek it.
ABOUT CHRISTOPHER PAZDERNIK, producer
Christopher Pazdernik is an openly HIV+ artist with "a near encyclopedic knowledge of musicals" (NewCity Stage) based in Chicago. He is Porchlight Music Theatre's producing associate & company manager and recently directed Porchlight's virtual offering New Faces Sing Broadway 1987 in fall 2020. Pazdernik has also directed for Porchlight Revisits, Porchlight Music Theatre's lost musicals series, where he has helmed Anyone Can Whistle, City of Angels, Applause, The Rink, Do Re Mi, Merrily We Roll Along (play), Minnie's Boys and Call Me Madam. For three seasons, he was the artistic director of Refuge Theatre Project, where he directed High Fidelity (Jeff Awards: Best Director & Best Musical), The Spitfire Grill, The Last Session and Hands on a Hardbody as well as producing the Chicago premieres of Things to Ruin and Lysistrata Jones. Other credits include work with Round Barn Theatre, Chicago Theatre Workshop, Underscore Theatre Company, Eclectic Theatre Company, Ohio Northern University, three years directing the Non-Equity Jeff Awards and a judge for the 2019 Chicago Music Theatre Festival. Pazdernik also has extensive producing, casting and management experience including First Date (company managerChicago premiere), Splintered Soul (company managerChicago premiere), Rosencranz Mysteries (associate producerworld premiere), Civility of Albert Cashier (associate producerWorld premiere), Miracle (casting directorworld premiere) and Call Me Elizabeth (associate producerstreaming premiere). In addition to his work with Howard Brown, he conceived and produced the Chicago Offstage! benefit event in 2020 for Season of Concern and he has captained a team for the AIDS Run & Walk Chicago since 2015, where he is consistently one of the top fundraisers for the event.
ABOUT DR. MICHAEL McBRIDE, music director
Dr. Michael McBride is an internationally-performed composer, performer, conductor, and educator. McBride was the music director for BoHo Theatre's Big Fish (Jeff Award Recipient); Porchlight Music Theatre's PorchlightPaloozaand Broadway by the Decade; Pride Arts Center's The Christmas Foundling (also composer); Timber Lake Playhouse's The LIttle Mermaid, Into the Woods, Mamma Mia!, Man of La Mancha and What a Wonderful World (workshop premiere) and Wallace Bowl's Footloose. At Loyola University Chicago, he has music directed The Boys and the Nuns (also composer), Fun Home, Violet, Cabaret, Tintypes, She Loves Me, Spring Awakening, Hot Mikado, Urinetown and Into the Woods.
Jeff Award-winning director and HIV+ activist Christopher Pazdernik presents the 6th annual Belting for Life (formerly known as Chris' Birthday Belt Fest), an annual benefit concert for Howard Brown Health, one of the nation's largest LGBTQ organizations. Belting for Life premieres on Sunday, May 16 at 6 p.m. CDT on HowardBrown.org and will be available through Monday, May 31. This performance is suitable for all ages and runs approximately 100 minutes with no intermission. Tickets go on sale Saturday, May 1 and are available with a tax-deductible donation of $20 at HowardBrown.org . Follow @BeltingForLife on Instagram for the most up-to-date information.