Benefit Show with International Talent Spotlights Mental Health Awareness Month & Older Americans Month

Monday, May 13th, 7-10:30 p.m. In-Person & Live Stream

Step Forward Entertainment, with the support of The Smart Family Foundation, is putting the spotlight on mental health (especially increasing rates of depression among our seniors) through music, dance, theater, writing and other creative works of art. At the event, co-producer Pat Labez will be launching Third Act Encore, a compilation book with 21 inspiring, authentic storytellers who share experiences of resilience, reinvention and renaissance, and finding joy in the golden, “encore years.” All proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization, International Mental Health Foundation.

Lifting the Curtain on Mental Health” will be held on Monday, May 13th, 7 to 10:30 p.m. at the Triad Theater on the Upper West Side of New York City, 158 W. 72nd St., 2nd floor.

Featured artists include Anika and Leo Sieg from Külungsborn, Germany presenting ME & THE LION, a special music project creating a movement that is committed to destigmatizing mental illness through music. The two musicians believe that depression, anxiety disorders and burnout have been increasing rapidly and that it is more important than ever to talk about them more openly. ME & THE LION deals with these topics in a sensitive way through songs focusing on relationships, hope, and the will to live. The music crosses over and combines elements of three genres of music: pop, rock and country music. “Music can be a great help in understanding yourself better and taking action,” says singer and songwriter Anika, who suffers from C-PTSD. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Leo adds: “We want to convey a feeling of cohesion. Nobody has to fight alone: we have a lion by our side!” Anikai and Leo just released their music video on mental health, “Let the Rain Come”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2sNhIjnw0E.

ADRIENNE HAAN is an effervescent and celebrated international entertainer. Cited as “the First Lady of Cabaret” by Wolf Entertainment Guide and “New York’s most exciting cabaret star today” by the New York Concert Review, her performances have garnered numerous standing ovations, most notably at Carnegie Hall, Ravinia Festival, and concert halls around the world. In 2022, Adrienne was hired by the Permanent Mission of the International Francophonie at the United Nations in New York, to musically represent the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg during its 77th General Assembly. She is the first and only Luxembourg artist to receive this honor. A resident of New York City, Adrienne is artist-in-residence at the renowned Triad Theatre in New York City where she has enthusiastically been received by New York audiences for 8 years.

SOARA-JOYE ROSS is a multi-talented actress known for roles in Broadway hits like Hadestown, Les Misérables and Dance of the Vampires, as well as the national tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Other theatrical credits include a Lucille Lortel Award-winning and Drama Desk nominee for her role in the off-Broadway hit, Carmen Jones plus The First Noel at The Apollo, Dessa Rose at Lincoln Center Theater, and Anything Goes at Arena Stage. Trained at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), she is also active in film and television

IAKOF SHONSKY is the Founder of NY Tango Academy and Tango Academy Batumi. Hailing from the country of Georgia, this multi-talented dancer is also an actor, director and choreographer. He owns BestFest and works at Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre. His ventures include Milonga 1904 and Tango Atelie. ”Studies have shown the power of Tango to mental health as well as improving cognitive function and mobility in older adults,” says Iakof.

XIAOQING ZHANG began her career starring in Avenue Q and other big musical theatre productions in China before settling in America and receiving a master’s degree in the Arts at SCAD. She recently served as an organizer for Tony Awards China and a musical theatre festival in Shanghai. She’s VP of The World Chinese Culture and Arts Foundation and Artistic Director of Broadway China. Recognized by the NYC Council, she is also a leading lady in various musicals led by Shanghai Sonatas and regularly collaborates with international artists.

JOHN EASTERLIN is a four-time Grammy Award winner and a major opera star with many global credits, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Opéra de Monte-Carlo and more. A Master Puppeteer and Certified Magician with three listings in the Guinness Book of World Records, Mr. Easterlin came to the opera industry from a theatrical career with performances in Chicago, Forever Plaid and The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

The evening will also showcase additional intergenerational talent from ages 8 to 80s covering all three acts of life including authors in the Third Act Encore. Inspired by her years in long-term care services and hospice volunteering, Pat Labez cites, “This book is timely. Everyday, about 10,000 people turn 65 with a 47% projected increase to 82 million by 2050. Depression, anxiety and suicide among seniors continue to rise. Whether you’re 65 or 25, the sage wisdom within these pages will undoubtedly resonate and invite the possibilities in your own life.”

Robert R. Blume, president of Step Forward Entertainment, served as executive producer of the Drama Desk Awards (“the Golden Globe of theater”) for 18 years. He is one of the authors in the book and says, “As colorful as my journey has been in my decades of being in show biz, I never really thought of writing. Being invited to this Third Act Encore project has been fun and I’m glad to be encouraging others in the process. We are also grateful to the Smart Family Foundation for their support to allow these amazing, meaningful programs.”

Tickets are $20 for both the live, in-person show (plus 2-beverage min.) at www.stepforwardnyc.com and streaming services with an option for on-demand viewing available at www.imhfstreaming.com All proceeds go to the International Mental Health Foundation (IMHF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to mental health and disabilities through the arts. Visit www.intlmentalhealth.org/events.

Plus CHEESE FRIES & CHILI DIPS with CHRIS FULLER!

“CHEESE FRIES & CHILI DIPS”

A HUMOROUS TWIST TO MENTAL ILLNESS?

“What happens when a clever young pro golfer walks into a comedy club? If the fugitive from the pro golf tour is Chris Fuller, look for laughter and tears – because he’s funny – genuinely funny – and he’s been plagued by bipolar mood swings for years. Engagingly honest, Chris Fuller delves deep into his garage full of hopes, dreams, disappointments and memories, compassionately displaying the inventive, often self-deprecating timing some comics are naturally blessed with. Directed by Mark S. Graham,  Cheese Fries & Chili Dips is enormously touching and a rollicking good time.” 

That was the first review of Cheese Fries & Chili Dips by Susan Granger, member of the Broadcast & Film Critics Association. Since then, the show continues to captivate audiences and applauded for helping remove the stigma of mental illness.

Written and performed by the man who lived it, Chris Fuller details the difficulties of competing in pro golf tournaments while his mind raced out of control with sudden mood swings, setting him on a path to self-destruction. The show chronicles his journey to control his extreme highs and lows, as he meets a cast of colorful characters, all played by Fuller himself, who help him to arrive at self-actualization when he unexpectedly finds his bliss. It is a story with self-deprecating humor and unedited insight as Fuller recounts life events while going freely from the past to the present.

Cheese Fries & Chili Dips, originally scheduled to play at the Triad Theater in New York City on May 18th, will now be the showcase finale to another event at the Triad Theater honoring Mental Health Awareness Month on Monday, May 13th at 7 p.m. “Lifting the Curtain on Mental Health” extravaganza features world-class entertainment and the launch of Third Act Encore, a compilation book honoring older adults, addressing the impact of aging to mental health.

Benefit Show with International Talent Spotlights Mental Health Awareness Month & Older Americans Month

Monday, May 13th, 7-10:30 p.m. In-Person & Live Stream

Step Forward Entertainment, with the support of The Smart Family Foundation, is putting the spotlight on mental health (especially increasing rates of depression among our seniors) through music, dance, theater, writing and other creative works of art. At the event, co-producer Pat Labez will be launching Third Act Encore, a compilation book with 21 inspiring, authentic storytellers who share experiences of resilience, reinvention and renaissance, and finding joy in the golden, “encore years.” All proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization, International Mental Health Foundation.

Lifting the Curtain on Mental Health” will be held on Monday, May 13th, 7 to 10:30 p.m. at the Triad Theater on the Upper West Side of New York City, 158 W. 72nd St., 2nd floor.

Featured artists include Anika and Leo Sieg from Külungsborn, Germany presenting ME & THE LION, a special music project creating a movement that is committed to destigmatizing mental illness through music. The two musicians believe that depression, anxiety disorders and burnout have been increasing rapidly and that it is more important than ever to talk about them more openly. ME & THE LION deals with these topics in a sensitive way through songs focusing on relationships, hope, and the will to live. The music crosses over and combines elements of three genres of music: pop, rock and country music. “Music can be a great help in understanding yourself better and taking action,” says singer and songwriter Anika, who suffers from C-PTSD. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Leo adds: “We want to convey a feeling of cohesion. Nobody has to fight alone: we have a lion by our side!” Anikai and Leo just released their music video on mental health, “Let the Rain Come”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2sNhIjnw0E.

ADRIENNE HAAN is an effervescent and celebrated international entertainer. Cited as “the First Lady of Cabaret” by Wolf Entertainment Guide and “New York’s most exciting cabaret star today” by the New York Concert Review, her performances have garnered numerous standing ovations, most notably at Carnegie Hall, Ravinia Festival, and concert halls around the world. In 2022, Adrienne was hired by the Permanent Mission of the International Francophonie at the United Nations in New York, to musically represent the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg during its 77th General Assembly. She is the first and only Luxembourg artist to receive this honor. A resident of New York City, Adrienne is artist-in-residence at the renowned Triad Theatre in New York City where she has enthusiastically been received by New York audiences for 8 years.

SOARA-JOYE ROSS is a multi-talented actress known for roles in Broadway hits like Hadestown, Les Misérables and Dance of the Vampires, as well as the national tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Other theatrical credits include a Lucille Lortel Award-winning and Drama Desk nominee for her role in the off-Broadway hit, Carmen Jones plus The First Noel at The Apollo, Dessa Rose at Lincoln Center Theater, and Anything Goes at Arena Stage. Trained at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), she is also active in film and television

IAKOF SHONSKY is the Founder of NY Tango Academy and Tango Academy Batumi. Hailing from the country of Georgia, this multi-talented dancer is also an actor, director and choreographer. He owns BestFest and works at Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre. His ventures include Milonga 1904 and Tango Atelie. ”Studies have shown the power of Tango to mental health as well as improving cognitive function and mobility in older adults,” says Iakof.

XIAOQING ZHANG began her career starring in Avenue Q and other big musical theatre productions in China before settling in America and receiving a master’s degree in the Arts at SCAD. She recently served as an organizer for Tony Awards China and a musical theatre festival in Shanghai. She’s VP of The World Chinese Culture and Arts Foundation and Artistic Director of Broadway China. Recognized by the NYC Council, she is also a leading lady in various musicals led by Shanghai Sonatas and regularly collaborates with international artists.

JOHN EASTERLIN is a four-time Grammy Award winner and a major opera star with many global credits, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Opéra de Monte-Carlo and more. A Master Puppeteer and Certified Magician with three listings in the Guinness Book of World Records, Mr. Easterlin came to the opera industry from a theatrical career with performances in Chicago, Forever Plaid and The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

The evening will also showcase additional intergenerational talent from ages 8 to 80s covering all three acts of life including authors in the Third Act Encore. Inspired by her years in long-term care services and hospice volunteering, Pat Labez cites, “This book is timely. Everyday, about 10,000 people turn 65 with a 47% projected increase to 82 million by 2050. Depression, anxiety and suicide among seniors continue to rise. Whether you’re 65 or 25, the sage wisdom within these pages will undoubtedly resonate and invite the possibilities in your own life.”

Robert R. Blume, president of Step Forward Entertainment, served as executive producer of the Drama Desk Awards (“the Golden Globe of theater”) for 18 years. He is one of the authors in the book and says, “As colorful as my journey has been in my decades of being in show biz, I never really thought of writing. Being invited to this Third Act Encore project has been fun and I’m glad to be encouraging others in the process. We are also grateful to the Smart Family Foundation for their support to allow these amazing, meaningful programs.”

Tickets are $20 for both the live, in-person show (plus 2-beverage min.) at www.stepforwardnyc.com and streaming services with an option for on-demand viewing available at www.imhfstreaming.com All proceeds go to the International Mental Health Foundation (IMHF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to mental health and disabilities through the arts. Visit www.intlmentalhealth.org/events.

Plus CHEESE FRIES & CHILI DIPS with CHRIS FULLER!

“CHEESE FRIES & CHILI DIPS”

A HUMOROUS TWIST TO MENTAL ILLNESS?

“What happens when a clever young pro golfer walks into a comedy club? If the fugitive from the pro golf tour is Chris Fuller, look for laughter and tears – because he’s funny – genuinely funny – and he’s been plagued by bipolar mood swings for years. Engagingly honest, Chris Fuller delves deep into his garage full of hopes, dreams, disappointments and memories, compassionately displaying the inventive, often self-deprecating timing some comics are naturally blessed with. Directed by Mark S. Graham,  Cheese Fries & Chili Dips is enormously touching and a rollicking good time.” 

That was the first review of Cheese Fries & Chili Dips by Susan Granger, member of the Broadcast & Film Critics Association. Since then, the show continues to captivate audiences and applauded for helping remove the stigma of mental illness.

Written and performed by the man who lived it, Chris Fuller details the difficulties of competing in pro golf tournaments while his mind raced out of control with sudden mood swings, setting him on a path to self-destruction. The show chronicles his journey to control his extreme highs and lows, as he meets a cast of colorful characters, all played by Fuller himself, who help him to arrive at self-actualization when he unexpectedly finds his bliss. It is a story with self-deprecating humor and unedited insight as Fuller recounts life events while going freely from the past to the present.

Cheese Fries & Chili Dips, originally scheduled to play at the Triad Theater in New York City on May 18th, will now be the showcase finale to another event at the Triad Theater honoring Mental Health Awareness Month on Monday, May 13th at 7 p.m. “Lifting the Curtain on Mental Health” extravaganza features world-class entertainment and the launch of Third Act Encore, a compilation book honoring older adults, addressing the impact of aging to mental health.