FROM HERE, a New Musical to Host Virtual Presentation in Partnership with Equality Florida
On June 12, Equality Florida, Florida's largest LGBTQ organization, will present a full-length video presentation of FROM HERE, a new musical, as part of the annual #HonorThemWithAction Campaign. This annual call-to-action commemorates the June 12th anniversary of the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in 2016; this year's focus is getting out the vote in November 2020. FROM HERE, a musical centered on the Pulse tragedy, will be presented on fromhere.com and eqfl.org/fromhere starting at 9:00 PM EDT on June 12, 2020 and will be available through June 28, 2020. Filmed during the World Premiere performances at Central Florida Community Arts earlier this year, this event features a high-quality live recording of the full-length musical, fully-staged in front of an audience. The presentation will be free-of-charge, and patrons will be encouraged to contribute to the #HonorThemWithAction campaign.
To writer Donald Rupe, FROM HERE is much more than a musical. Inspired by his own lived experiences, the material is emotionally charged with regard to family, relationships, and a moving tribute to Pulse Nightclub, a place which was a centerpiece of his formative years. He says, “When I decided to write something about my friends and I, it became clear that I couldn’t authentically do so without acknowledging the role that Pulse nightclub played in our lives, both before and after the tragedy. It changed the way we viewed our lives and each other. It changed everything.” As such, in the second act, Donald recounts how he and his friends heard about the shooting and the days following, as well as sharing memories of their times at the nightclub. There’s no depiction of violence; no details or names of any of the victims, survivors, or their families. “The only story I can tell is my own,” says Rupe, and he continues, “It’s important, sometimes, for artists to pay tribute to tragedy. To memorialize so that we never forget. To document grief through art. This section of FROM HERE is my attempt to honor the victims, to show that what happened to innocent people will never be forgotten, and how it changed many of us forever.”
FROM HERE (Book/Music/Lyrics by Rupe, Arrangements and Orchestrations by Jason M. Bailey) begins with Daniel (Blake Aburn), a 30-something gay man living in Orlando. Daniel is navigating a difficult relationship with his mother (Sarah Lee Dobbs) and his interminable search for love (in mostly the wrong places). In the first act, he loses one love (Peter Heid) for another (Erick Perafan). Daniel is funny, nerdy, and has a tight-knit group of friends who are his chosen family. Set in Orlando in 2016, the musical takes an emotional turn as the characters learn of the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub, a place which was a centerpiece of their formative years. These moments change the way that Daniel, and those around him, see the world. The show ends with a wiser, more mature, more hopeful Daniel. “We’re all FROM HERE,” he says, realizing how much truly ties us together
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FROM HERE ended its successful Orlando run early at Central Florida Community Arts where it World Premiered. Unfortunately, the original fundraiser anniversary concert, which was being planned in New York City, was also postponed. However, there are hopeful discussions to bring the show to New York City when things return to normal.
The show's creator, Donald Rupe, who also wrote the award-winning, critically-acclaimed musical Flying Lessons, featured in last year's New York Musical Festival, has this to say: "Daniel's story is, in many ways, Orlando's story, and it's an important reminder of one of our city's most difficult moments. I'll never forget how the world came together to show their support of our community here, and it felt like we belonged to a larger family. For many of us, in June 2016, it felt like the whole world was 'from here.' This show, I think, is a hopeful message of resilience----and I think the world needs that message now more than ever."
Photo credit: Ashleigh Ann Gardner