Audience wanted for new documentary series by Drew and Lea Lachey
New 'label less' musical stage play performances will be filmed at the American Sign Museum Aug.10-14 for a documentary series about the making of the show.
Drew and Lea Lachey have partnered with Brave Berlin and two Los Angeles-area companies to produce a documentary series about mounting and staging label less, a musical play tackling "current social issues . . . from bullying to mental health to homophobia to racism," Film Cincinnati announced Wednesday.
An outgrowth of a 2018 "simple empathy exercise" during a theater class, label less is a combination of spoken word pieces, music and dance, Drew Lachey says. It started with asking each student to anonymously write down a way they had been discriminated against in their lives, he says.
When the Lacheys read all the stories that night in their kitchen, they were "quickly brought to tears. Each piece of paper told a different story ranging from sexism to racism to mental health to homophobia and more," according to a fact sheet for the show. "Right then and there they decided to create a show that would give a voice to the youth of America, people who are struggling to make sense of the world and how they fit into it."
The Cincinnati couple, who teach theater and dance at their Lachey Arts program in Fairfax, created the show from those pieces of paper. Drew wrote the spoken word stories based on cast members current and past. Cast member Maliyah Gramata-Jones wrote the racism spoken word part, he says.
The Film Cincinnati media release describes label less as "a musical stage play that combines popular music, spoken word, moving visuals and powerful choreography. Led by a talented young cast, label less tells their stories of love, compassion and how they defy the labels they have experienced in their lifetimes. It’s an incredibly powerful show that people of all ages can embrace and experience together.
"With a diverse cast of 16-26-year-olds, this show tackles current social issues that this generation faces; everything from bullying to mental health to homophobia to racism . . . (It is) a musical journey toward acceptance, focusing on the issues that affect our society, and lending a voice to the youth who are inheriting a world they didn't create and giving us all permission to live, love and truly be label less," it says.
After the label less premiere in March 2018, "Lea and Drew were overwhelmed by letters, emails and phone calls. People reached out that had been affected by all of these forms of discrimination and now felt empowered to speak up," according to the fact sheet.
It was performed again that September, at the Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival, with an older cast (ages 16-26) who had a "slightly older perspective," which enabled them "to dig even deeper into these important issues."
"Armed with additional performances in 2020 and 2021, thousands of fans, a critical narrative and a passionate cast, the label less movement is ready to move into the future," the fact sheet says.
The Lacheys have partnered with Brave Berlin, a founding partner of the BLINK Cincinnati animated displays; Burbank-based Invent TV, which has worked with Oprah Winfrey on her interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry and Oprah's Book Club; and TVACOM, a production equipment rental company serving Los Angeles and Cincinnati.
The producers will film four performances of label less Aug. 10-14 at the American Sign Museum in Camp Washington for the documentary series. It's the first time the show has not been presented in a theater.
"We made the choice to take it out of a traditional theater space in order to make it even more immersive," Drew tells me. "In a theater, it is easy to see it strictly as a 'show.' A non-traditional venue allows the stories to be told in a more personal, authentic way."
Performances of label less at the American Sign Museum, 1330 Monmouth Ave. Camp Washington, are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11; 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 12; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday Aug. 14. Tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased at lacheyarts.com.
Kristen Schlotman, Film Cincinnati executive director, says in the news release that "we are over the moon to host such an extraordinary collaboration of talent in Cincinnati. Drew and Lea could film this production all over the world and their commitment and love for this city has never been more palpable.”