It Gets Better comes to the stage Feb. 7 with message of hope

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The It Gets Better Project has become an international Internet phenomenon by showing young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people the levels of happiness and potential their lives can reach if they just get through their challenging teen years. It Gets Better has transformed into a nationally touring theatrical production to be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

Upbeat, exciting and funny with a narrative that includes moments of pain and pathos, It Gets Better is built on a collaboration among the It Gets Better Project, six members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and Speak Theater Arts plus Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts; University Choir; Cultural Conversations festival; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally Student Resource Center; and others.

The visiting artists and local participants work together to build a performance responding to the issue of bullying. They imagine what “better” means for young people through stories, songs, dances and multimedia.

With its unqualified support for all young people, It Gets Better creates and unites allies in solidarity against bullying and teen violence.

“The show’s focus is on delivering a message of hope,” said Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development director at the Center for the Performing Arts.

It Gets Better is offered in conjunction with Cultural Conversations, an annual visual, theatre and dance festival devoted to new works related to global and local diversity.

Susan Russell, an assistant professor in Penn State’s School of Theatre and creator of Cultural Conversations, is working with six Penn State students — two of them graduates of State College Area High School — on short monologues to be performed in the show.

It Gets Better had a national songwriting competition, Vashaw said. University Choir, conducted by Penn State associate professor of music Tony Leach, will perform the winning selection during the show along with other thematically related pop songs.

The participating Gay Men’s Chorus members, playwright and director Liesel Reinhart of Speak Theater Arts and music/tour director Morten Kier are scheduled to be in residence at Penn State for a week of engagement activities beginning Feb. 4.

The content of It Gets Better is not suitable for young children. The material is rated PG-13 and includes strong language.

Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown sponsor the performance. Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Reinhart, will be offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts presentation are $15 for an adult, $10 for a University Park student and $15 for a person 18 and younger. Tickets are available at www.cpa.psu.edu or by phone at 814-863-0255 or 800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at four State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays), HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays) and Bryce Jordan Center (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays). A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

Photos related to It Gets Better for media use are available to download at http://cpa.psu.edu/internal/presslibrary.html.

The Center for the Performing Arts is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pscpa.

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Last Updated February 07, 2013