New Outreach Ambassador - Cynthia Nesbit

Asks & Offers

Key Spotlight on Gina Young


Help us grow!

We kicked off our Monthly Workshop Series with our September Workshop, Self Care = Self Love, facilitated by Viviana Vargas of Advancing Arts Forward. It was a beautiful afternoon of group discussion and self reflection.

Up next in our series, Key Klea Blackhursts Old School Masterclass!
A Practical History of the American Musical
There is great power in the knowledge of what has come before us. Klea is delighted to offer a Masterclass exclusively for Ring of Key members, based on her belief that a working knowledge of our uniquely American musical theatre art form can propel you into the future.

The songs and styles that filled the 20th Century with so many colorful and unique theatrical personalities can provide a firm foundation for your own incredibly personal 21st Century performance style. The  “Old School” songs that sprung from the ‘20’s, ‘30’s, ‘40’s and ‘50’s are indelible. Through the study of why they are indelible we learn the components of a great song and discover the means to deliver a powerful vocal performance. The class is one part history lesson, one part study of the voice itself and one part performance. We’ll talk anatomy, artistry and what it takes to give an audience goose-bumps. You’ll gain a new respect for diction and a few Old School tricks along the way.

KLEA BLACKHURST is known for her award-winning tribute to Ethel Merman, Everything The Traffic Will Allow. Klea recently starred Off-Broadway opposite Hayley Mills in Party Face. She played the title role in the world premiere of Hazel at Drury Lane in Chicago, Miss Lemon, a classic second banana in The Nutty Professor, premiering in Nashville, directed by Jerry Lewis with a score by Marvin Hamlisch and Rupert Holmes and as Dolly in Goodspeed Opera’s 50th Anniversary production of Hello, Dolly!. Her most recent project, One of the Girls, celebrates the words and music of Jerry Herman and debuted at Birdland in August. She is proud to be a distinguished Alumna of the University of Utah. Klea is an old school belter, but has taken that natural quality and brought it into the 21st Century.  A student of voice scientist Jo Estill, Klea learned to talk about singing from both a physiological and interpretive point of view. Klea has conducted master classes in high schools, colleges and universities in many of the cities in which she visits and works.

*Depending on location, we may ask for a suggested donation of $10 to help cover the cost of the room rental. Klea is generously donating her talents.
Save the date for Every Body Dance with Eliana Kayelle!


Introducing our new Outreach Ambassador, the latest addition to our Volunteer Leadership Team - Key Cynthia Nesbit
Ring of Keys is actively seeking Keys of color. In alignment with our mission of community and visibility, we are committed to creating a space for QPOC Keys to be seen, to be safe, and to be connected. If you are a QPOC Key and have felt a racial disparity in Ring of Keys, you are not alone, and we want to hear from you. Cynthia joining our leadership team is just one of the many ways we are working to address this. 

QPOC Keys: we are asking for feedback on experiences you have had in Ring of Keys that may have made you feel unsafe, as well as suggested efforts we can add to our growing list of measures to best serve you.
Submit Feedback
KEY PROJECTS that need a little help!
Need help financing a new project? Looking to fill a position? Have a space you can offer? Searching for a running buddy? Submit your asks and offers to for inclusion in the next newsletter!

Gina Young & Sorority

Can you describe the mission and intent of SORORITY and why you founded it? 

In Los Angeles where I live, I was feeling a huge disconnect between my theater community and my queer and feminist communities. There was virtually no overlap. And I knew so many great artists who had never met, never even seen each other's work. So I started SORORITY as a late night k-hole for short new performance works. A supportive community sprung up around our little utopia virtually overnight, and we've presented readings, cabarets and salons for three years now, having a blast doing some of the most boundary-pushing work in town.

Why did you become a Key and how has the Ring helped your work? 

There are not enough queer characters on stage. Not by a long shot. That's why I switched tracks from primarily being an actor and singer to being more of a writer and director. I realized I might be of more value bringing underrepresented stories to the stage, rather than wasting my time trying to play straight and live up to the absurd beauty standards placed on women in theater. So far the greatest thing about being a Key has been the virtual community; knowing that you all are out there and being able to look up your websites like ooh, this is what's happening in Brooklyn, or Chicago, etc. etc. There's a movement happening.

There a lot of shared values between Ring of Keys and SORORITY. Can you talk about the musical theatre scene and queer scenes in LA? 

LA has a thriving theater community, but we live in the shadow of Hollywood and oftentimes a lot of theater and musical theater here is showcase work to get agents or get work in film and TV. A lot of the traditional musical theater jobs are a hefty commute outside of the city center, whereas a lot of new work and experimental work (which I create and am more interested in seeing) happens in Los Angeles proper. The queer scene in LA is very divided east and west; there's the (in)famous West Hollywood party scene, and then the more punk, activist and queer East Side scene... and then there's Long Beach. Our only remaining lesbian bar closed a few years back, so now there's a handful of monthly dance nights at different venues around town. I throw a monthly called DIVORCE and also highly recommend SORORITY as a place to meet babes. ;) (plug plug)

How is your queerness reflected in your work as a director and creator? 

Since 2001 I have been creating experimental plays and musicals centering queer characters almost exclusively. In fact, I don't think I ever even wrote a cis male character until THIS YEAR. There is just such a deficit we have to catch up on. So my subject matter is very queer, but also my form and process are very influenced by lesbian and feminist theater and activist organizing. Different ways of writing and thinking; different ways of casting and running a rehearsal room. Don't forget your history, but live in the future.

Anything else you can share to help promote upcoming events or your work? 

Thank you! I recently completed a new full-length play, This is Why I Don't Come Home, that is the story of a prodigal daughter who returns home to her Italian-American family to find out she's not the only one who is queer. It has one musical number. I'm also developing a full-length new musical this winter. Would love to see these shows produced in New York or other cities, so hit me up if you're a producer or a theater company who wants to produce new work! And queer actors and singers, I've got so many monologues and songs for you-- possibly even your dream role! So glad RoK exists and that we are all supporting each other. I'm @ginagenius on Instagram and
NYC, meet your new Meetup Ambassadors:
Kevin Paley (they/them) and
Jake Nusbaum (he/she/they)

WOW, do they have something big planned for you this month....
Ring of Keys is playing with fire in a...

October 31st
Time: 4-6PM
Place: ART/NY
(520 8th Ave)

Come in your spiciest Halloween attire and be prepared to sweat! Singers and non-singers alike can sing solos, duets, trios while their friends pay $5 to make them eat a jalapeño at any point during the song. Can’t handle the heat? Pay up! Proceeds will be split between Ring of Keys and the Black Trans Solidarity Fund. More info to come!
Date: October 20th
Time: 11AM
Place: The Coffee Studio

Contact your Chicago Ambassador, Key Meeka Postman, with questions!

Become a fiscally sustaining KEY member!

For as little as $5/month, you can help support Ring of Keys as a monthly donor.

Your contribution will help Ring of Keys fulfill its mission to promote the hiring of self-identifying queer women, trans, and gender non-conforming artists. Your monthly contribution could support:
  • A room rental for future panels, Town Halls, or Workshops
  • Our monthly G Suite expenses
  • Website hosting and domain expenses
  • Digital marketing services
  • Building a foundation to queer the stage
We are always looking for volunteers for our leadership team. And while we recognize that volunteerism is a privilege of time and resources, we would love to see more voices represented in our leadership team. You can email for more information.
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.
Be sure to check out our growing KEY member directory!
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