Monday, June 20, 2005

Musical CD sales to
benefit homeless

The disc will feature songs from
a locally written stage play

The author of a local musical about mental illness and homelessness has plans to put together a CD as a way to raise funds for programs that help those the play highlights.

The CD, which will feature songs from "Truly Dually," is expected to be sold by homeless people or those in recovery for mental illness. Production of the CD is expected to start sometime this summer, and it could be available as early as September.

Homeless advocate and University of Hawaii doctoral student Michael Ullman wrote the musical as a way to educate the public about those who are both mentally ill and homeless. The play was inspired by Ullman's experiences working with chronically homeless people while director of programs at the Institute of Human Services' emergency shelter.

Award-winning director Roslyn Catracchia composed the music and directed.

"Everybody that's seen it seems to have really enjoyed it," Ullman said. "We've gotten nearly unanimous positive feedback."

But, he added, the play's four showings earlier this year attracted few members of the general public. He hopes a CD that features 12 to 14 songs from the musical will be able to spread the play's message to a wider audience.

Ullman said the musical's songs are both comical and moving.

For example, "Just Like Me" highlights how some portions of the population -- including veterans -- are more likely to become homeless. "And me, you see, I was awarded/Great honors of the military," the song goes. "When I came home my battle started/No one then came to rescue me."

In the play, the stanza is sung by a homeless veteran who lives in a Honolulu park. About 30 percent of single homeless men are veterans, Ullman said.

"What Michael is doing is, he is helping with the awareness," said Abby Paredes, executive director of Poailani Inc., a Kailua residential program for mentally ill people with substance abuse problems.

Paredes took about 60 of her clients to see the musical in May.

"It was touching. It was funny," she said, adding she saw her program's participants both laugh and cry during the performance. "It was just a mixture of emotions throughout the entire play, and the actors were brilliant."

Ullman is looking for sponsors to help cover the CD's costs, which are estimated at about $10,000.

Meanwhile, Ullman's play has been shown on 'Olelo this month and will be played on public-access television on the neighbor islands. In September, parts of the production will be shown at a national conference on homelessness in St. Louis.

For more information on the musical, contact Ullman at 391-7963 or mdarrenu@yahoo.com.

E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com