Runners Rock the Pews

Front Runners NY goes Broadway for annual benefit variety show

Front Runners New York (FRNY), the New York City gay and lesbian running club established in 1979, held its third annual variety show, “On Broadway,” on Friday, April 2.

The event was held in the James Chapel Theatre at Union Theological Seminary in Morningside Heights and provided an awesome––if somewhat ironic––space for the gay gathering. The funds raised Friday night will jointly benefit the FRNY Charitable Foundation and The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti Violence Project (AVP).

The show featured a diverse group of performers boasting a range of talents, and pulled in well over the projected amount, according to Dan Armstrong, FRNY board member and a volunteer at Friday’s show.

The FRNY Charitable Foundation provides financial assistance and support to people diagnosed with AIDS, AIDS-related complex (ARC), HIV, breast cancer and other terminal illnesses, while the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project acts a safe harbor and crucial force in the fight to end anti-gay hate crimes and domestic violence within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The decision to partner with AVP this year was made at the suggestion of gay comedienne and jazz musician Lea DeLaria, who has been actively involved with AVP throughout the years, and is herself a survivor of an abusive relationship.

The night was emceed by New York City cabaret host Scott Nevins and the entertainment included famed opera tenor Keith Jameson, award-winning comedian Ron Poole, jazz and blues artist Deian McBryde, the 2001 Outmusician of the Year, the Pretty Girl Orchestra, and the hilarious harmonies of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, directed by assistant conductor Casey Hayes.

DeLaria brought the show to a close with a short stand-up routine, followed by several songs that she performed with her jazz band.

Perhaps the most singular performance of the evening was that of up and coming New York rock band, Kevin Cahoon and Ghetto Cowboy, who welcomed the crowd back from a short intermission by quite literally “rock[ing] the Lord’s house,” in the words of the band’s veteran guitarist, Jan “Jannieboy” Tilley (www.jantilley.com).

Ghetto Cowboy has played to packed houses at local clubs like CBGB’s and Don Hill’s and is headed by Broadway star and rock musician Kevin Cahoon (www.angelfire.com/stars/kevincahoon), whose credits include “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “The Who’s Tommy,” and “The Lion King,” to name just a few. After offering up three energy-infused rock tunes, Cahoon and his crew left the pews praying for more.

Patrick Barker, a former president of FRNY and active member since 1984, explained that past variety shows have usually consisted of “more homegrown talent,” making this year’s event one of the most high profile to date.

Each year, FRNY also organizes the Lesbian and Gay Pride Run, which coincides with Pride weekend and benefits local gay groups such as the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, Lambda Legal, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

More information about FRNY can be found at www.frny.org.

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