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In the May issue...

  • LMCC Grant! 🌈
  • Backstage x RoK Panel⭐️
  • CSA Testimonial 🌱
  • Key Spotlight: Will Shishmanian (he/him/his) 🔎
Ring of Keys is thrilled to be the recipient of the Creative Engagement Grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council!!!

This grant will help fund our Queering the Canon Concert Series: a three-concert series that queers canonical musical theatre songs in back-to-back conversation with a new queer canon of musical theatre. In alignment with our mission, this concert series will give visibility to TGNC and queer women artists and celebrate our Keys community.

The concert series will be an in-person event in New York City, in tandem with the reopening of the Broadway season this fall!

Queering the Canon Concert Series is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of
Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by LMCC.
Our Queering Casting & Authentic Representation Panel, presented by Backstage and Ring of Keys, was positive, uplifting, and so much fun! If you missed it, the recording will be available in a few weeks. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notified when the link becomes available.

The panel was moderated by Keys Emily Tarquin (they/them) and Kevin Kantor (they/them). Panelists included Keys Miss Hazel Jade (she/her), Charlie Hano (he/him), Christine McKenna-Tirella (she/her), Sushma Saha (she/they/xe/he), Josephine Kearns (she/her), TS Hawkins (they/them), and Michelle Mary Schaefer (she/her). 

While it is illegal to ask someone’s sexuality and/or gender identity in hiring practices, authentic representation is vital. How do we bridge the gap? Ring of Keys Members discussed the importance of trans and queer representation in our industry, how we can achieve it, and what resources can be used for identity-conscious casting (hint: our Ring of Keys Directory!).

"The Ring of Keys website is so incredible! It's so helpful and my casting colleagues often also comment on how user-friendly it is. It's so beautiful too. Ring of Keys is really making an impact in the casting world."

- Danielle Pretsfelder Demchick, CSA Equity in Entertainment Committee Co-Chair
Meet Key Will Shishmanian (he/him/his), Composer/Lyricist, Musician (Primary instruments: guitar & bass), and Librettist 
What Kind of Art Do You Like to Create?
I work on shows that center queer and trans folks, and tell stories that showcase the kind of joy we all deserve, while also touching some of the very real issues we face, and wrap it all up in catchy, often guitar-based tunes! 
What is Your Current Project?
I'm currently finishing writing the music, book, and lyrics for "The Regulars", a folk musical which is being co-developed and directed by Miss Hazel Jade. The show follows Mark Howard, a trans man who moves away from his West Virginia home to a rural, upstate town in search of a new type of family. When he picks up a stockroom position at the town’s local orchard, he’s met with toxic masculinity and comes to terms with his newfound male privilege. And during his first day, he befriends Dani Thompson, a Black queer woman who’s opening her own gay bar. Over time, these two very regular people form and find chosen family in one another and their community. I'm also working on co-writing music and lyrics for "Reign: A Rock Opera" with Anessa Marie, which is a loose adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's Edward II.
Why Did You Want to Become a Key?
I wanted to become a Key because I want to be in a network of creators who value similar kinds of stories and art as me. I want to make sure the work that I do always has a team full of trans folks, non-binary people, and queer women of all backgrounds, so that we can be the ones telling our own stories, and supporting each other. 
Where Can People Go To Learn More About You? 
You can follow me on instagram at @willshish , Facebook at Will Shish, or check out my woefully out of date website . To check out "The Regulars", you can listen to all the music at and follow us on Instagram @regularsmusical 

Do you have work that you want us to showcase? Let us know! Reply to this email, or use the hashtag #ringofkeys on your social media posts so we can know about all the great stuff going on with our Members.
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