Leigh Crow (Rat King)
Internationally known as the King of Drag Kings, Elvis Herselvis, aka Artist Formerly known as Elvis Herselvis, as well as numerous other pseudonyms, Leigh Crow has been performing drag since 1989. Leigh has hosted many SF Drag King Contests and now sings with The Mighty Slim Pickins and The Whoa Nellies. Leigh starred as Clara McCoy in the 2009 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Blazing Nutcrackers! and was a lead actor in last year’s 2010 Dance-Along Nutcracker: At Sea!
Lia Metz (Clara)
Lia Metz excels “behind the table”: primarily choreographing, directing, and stage managing at Bay Area theaters including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Theatre Rhinoceros, New Conservatory Theatre Center. Lia graduated from the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts (PCPA) in 2002. A double Aubrey Award winner, Lia also still dabbles in performing whenever she gets a hankerin’ for it. Her professional stage experience spans well over 15 years. A former member of the Board of Directors at Scripps Ranch Theatre, Lia is a proud member Theatre Bay Area. Lia is also a Dance Instructor with credits at Diablo Theatre Company and Applauz Theatre. Lia is an Equity Membership candidate who also loves to spend her Monday nights singing at Martunis Piano Bar. She was a lead actor in last year’s 2010 Dance-Along Nutcracker: At Sea!, memorably performing an ever-escalating rendition of “(I Don’t Wanna) Show Off.”
Flynn De Marco (Nutcracker, Sgt.Lemon-Pepper)
Flynn De Marco has been performing since his star turn in the Cromwell Valley Elementary School production of The Fat Cat. Since then he has performed in many productions in SF with The Sick and Twisted Players, Theater Rhino , Artfull Circle Theater and others. In 2000, he moved to New Orleans to found the Running With Scissors theater company. While with “Scissors,” he won a Big Easy Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as well as a dual Best Director Award for Bad Seed and Sordid Lives with his theater partner Richard Read. Returning to San Francisco after Hurricane Katrina, he adapted and directed a stage version of the horror classic, Bride of Frankenstein along side his husband, Richard Board. Soon after, he was welcomed into the Thrillpeddlers fold with roles in Pearls Over Shanghai, Shocktoberfest: Kiss of Blood and Vice Palace which he associate directed. Honored to be a part of this functionally dysfunctional family, he also serves as Thrillpeddlers’ company manager and wig master.
San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band
Named the “Official Band of the City of San Francisco” in honor of its 25th anniversary in 2003, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is the first openly gay music organization ever, inspiring the formation of lesbian and gay bands, choruses and performing troupes around the world. Founded in 1978 by Jon Sims at the height of Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade, the Band debuted marching behind Supervisor Harvey Milk’s convertible in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. The Band has been making music to build understanding between gay and non-gay communities for 32 years.
The Band serves the Bay Area from Santa Clara to Contra Costa and Marin counties with 15-20 annual performances in support of civic and community services, low-income seniors, schools, safe places for LGBT youth, health services, and human rights organizations. Thanks largely to the support of individual donors, SFLGFB has presented community concerts featuring major wind band repertoire free of charge since 1993. Past program themes include women composers, social justice, hidden messages in music, catastrophes, and the beauty of the natural world. This year marks the 26th anniversary of its Dance-Along Nutcracker®, a Bay Area holiday tradition each December.
Named the Most Absolutely Fabulous Contingent of the 2006 San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and awarded for Absolutely Fabulous Music Contingent in 2009, the Band performs for hundreds of thousands at parades throughout the year, including San Francisco’s Chinese New Year’s Parade, the Corte Madera 4th of July Parade and at pride parades throughout the region, including Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Marin, Reno, Los Angeles and Fresno. Some of the Band’s credits include performances at the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s Seeing Gertrude Stein Exhibit, the filming of the Oscar-winning Gus Van Sant film Milk, the unveiling of the Harvey Milk Statue at City Hall, the Hayward Gay Prom, the Union Square Grand Reopening, the 9/11 memorial ceremony, the Jewish Community Center, Clarendon Elementary School’s Gay Awareness Day, the 5th anniversary of the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Cultural Center and the Lucasfilms company picnic at Skywalker Ranch. Members have performed in the Inaugural Parade of President Barrack Obama and at both Presidential Inaugurals of Bill Clinton and at Gay Games in Chicago as part of the Lesbian & Gay Bands Association’s (LGBA) massed bands.
Jadine Louie, Artistic Director/Conductor
Jadine Louie watched the Band’s first performance in the 1978 Pride parade perched in a tree near the main library. She was music director of two orchestras at the age of 21, earned an engineering degree, and worked in the building trades before joining the Band. Dubbed both the “perfect deadpan” and “spiritual center” of the Dance-Along Nutcracker by the San Francisco Chronicle, Ms. Louie previously served as Artistic Director of SFLGFB from 1996 to 2006, and returned as artistic director in 2009. She is known among band members for her love of contemporary wind ensemble music and among audience members and students for her ability to make musical ideas accessible to all. For her work advocating for community music, Ms. Louie was named the Bay Guardian’s 2003 Best Justification for Music in the Schools, 2002 Honorary Grand Marshall of the SF Pride Celebration, and was honored by the State Assembly and San Francisco Board of Supervisors at the end of her tenure with the Band. She returned to guest conduct a piece at the 2008 Pride Concert celebrating the Band’s 30th anniversary concert and served as guest conductor of the 2008 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Bah Humbug! Ms. Louie shared the podium conducting the massed band of the Lesbian Gay Band Association (LGBA) at Gay Games VII in Chicago, with composer Frank Ticheli at the 2005 LGBA conference in Palm Springs, and at the 2011 LGBA conference in Seattle.
Carolyn Carvajal, Choreographer
Twelve-year Dance-Along Nutcracker veteran Carolyn Carvajal apprenticed with the Joffrey Ballet and began her professional career with the San Francisco Ballet. As a principal dancer with S.F. Dance Spectrum, she performed the works of Carlos Carvajal and associates with the Arthur Fiedler Pops Concerts and in numerous Bay Area dance showcases. For 12 years she toured extensively with Dances Through Time, expanding her knowledge to include social dancing of the past 500 years. Carolyn retired from the San Francisco Opera Ballet in 1998 after 29 years on the Opera House stage. Currently, she maintains a busy teaching and choreographing schedule with San Francisco Girls Chorus, North Coast Dance and Shan Yee Poon Ballet School.
Robert Casillas, Stage Director
Robert Casillas first directed the actors in the 2009 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Blazing Nutcrackers! He has been actor, director, lyricist, playwright and producer in various productions around the San Francisco Bay Area. He originally began in theatre as an actor but decided to try his hand at writing plays. This led to him becoming a member of the Playwright’s Center of San Francisco where he was able to develop his first full-length play and his first musical, in addition to gaining the opportunity to direct the work of other Playwright’s Center members. His passion for theater has led him to become involved in production aspects at ArtRise (SSF), Hillbarn (Foster City), New Conservatory (SF), The Pear (Mtn View), Lucie Stern (Palo Alto), Actor’s Ensemble of Berkeley, Broadway West Theater (Fremont) and Stage One (Newark). His work with the many companies mentioned has also involved him in the capacity of Director, Assistant Director, Production Assistant, or Stage Manager.
June Bonacich, Arranger & Parodist
San Francisco Bay Area composer June Bonacich graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Master’s degree in Composition. She currently teaches Musicianship, Composition, and Early Childhood Music classes in the San Francisco Conservatory’s Preparatory Program, and has worked with the San Francisco Boys Chorus since 1997 as Training Chorus and Preparatory Director. Her hilarious musical, Group Therapy, was premiered by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in 2005, and was also performed in Chicago in 2006. In tribute of International Women’s Day 2011, she composed Fanfare for Tradeswomen, an eclectic piece featuring orchestra, women’s chorus and power tools, which was premiered by the Community Women’s Orchestra.
Heidi Beeler, Writer
Clara’s Magical Mystery Tour! marks Heidi’s fifth year collaborating on the script for the Dance-Along Nutcracker, which she worked on this year with Jadine Louie and June Bonacich. Working with teams of zany-brained musicians from the Band, Heidi previously scripted the 2006-2009 Dance-Along Nutcrackers – Clara-fied, Rat-ified, Bah Humbug! and Blazing Nutcrackers! A proud member of the band since 1991, Heidi plays in the trumpet section, frequently appearing in over-sized head gear in spite of the advice of her chiropractor and the numerous anonymous annual death threats she receives, all of which have been traced back to other members of the trumpet section. She also performs with the Dixieland Dykes +3, The Fog Horns brass quintet and is a former member of City Swing. She is a freelance writer from the East Bay. Her column, Brass Tacks, is published in the SF Bay Times.