IT MUST BE HIM: A Genderful Musical Memoir

Performance, All Ages
Davidson/Valentini Theatre

1125 N. McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA 90038

For more than three decades, Michael Kearns has captured the zeitgeist of his generation as a writer-performer with a voice defined by hope, reality, desire, tragedy, and promise.It Must Be Him, A Genderful MusicalMemoir, his sixteenth written-and-performed-by solo show, will enhance the trajectory of his work as a solo artist. 

Kearns’ latest offering explores the role of gender from the consciousness of a community elder, beginning in 1968 when the artist began his tumultuous journey as a gay man, often expressed (as with many of his peers) through the lyrics and performances of emotionally-charged female songs/singers.

Doors open at 7:30 PM. Performance begins at 8:00 PM.

Participant Bios

Michael Kearns (Writer-Performer) has been a fixture on the LGBTQI+ cultural landscape for more than a half century. Actor, writer, director, teacher, humanitarian and fundraiser, Kearns has appeared on small and large screens, in theatres worldwide, in Los Angeles classrooms, on the pages of newspapers, books, and scripts. His outpouring of work surrounding HIV/AIDS—artistically, intellectually, spiritually—has cemented his role as an activist and secured his place in the history books. In his sixteenth solo performance piece, It Must Be Him, Kearns embraces aspects of his sexual identity for the first time.  

Ryland Shelton (Director) is a director and vocal coach. As director, performer, and producer he has worked with a host of both New York- and Los Angeles-based theatre companies, and has joined forces with Michael Kearns on too many projects to count over their ten-year history of collaboration. In addition to studio work as vocals producer, arranger and private coach, Ryland’s original gender-affirming voice curriculum – TrueVoice Vocal Development – has earned him an international reputation as a primary resource for trans and gender diverse people as well as anyone in exploration of their most authentic vocal expression. 

Leigh Anne Gillespie (Pianist) is much in demand as a pianist, teacher, and musical director in the Los Angeles area since moving from Washington D.C. in 1993. She is currently Principal Faculty in Music and Accompanist at AMDA College of the Performing Arts in Hollywood, where she has been MD or AMD for many classes and shows, most recently The Wild Party, Little Women, and The Mad Ones.  She is also an accomplished dance musician with organizations such as The Washington Ballet, Idyllwild Arts Academy, LMU, and currently Trudl Zipper Dance Institute (Colburn School) and USC Kaufman School of Dance. 

Ann Closs-Farley (Costume Design): Credits include The Pee-wee Herman Show (Broadway), Toy Story The Musical (Disney), What About Dick? (Netflix), The Bourne Stuntacular (Universal Studios), A Christmas Karen (Renaissance Entertainment), St. Valentines Massacre (National Geographic), Pirates of the Caribbean: Eye of The Storm (Shanghai Disneyland), Sail Away (Carnival Cruise Lines), TWA @JFK (Connie Cocktail Bar), Twelfth Night (Guthrie Theater), Zoot Suit (Mark Taper Forum) Hopscotch: A Mobile Opera (The Industry), Cunning Little Vixens Opera (Industry and Cleveland Orchestra), Around The World in 80 Days (Cleveland Playhouse) and many more. Closs-Farley is also a long-time member of The Actors’ Gang and Evidence Room theater companies.

Theresa Kennedy (Associate Producer) is an art gallery curator and former board member for Lineage Performing Arts Center, and had the unique privilege of working as still photographer on documentaries in Cambodia and Europe. She followed a 10-year stint as Director of Print Production for the Fox Kids Network by building out a professional digital photography studio in LA. She co-founded and produced (it) magazine, a site that spotlighted people and organizations making a difference, and served as Executive Director of Booxie, a photo sharing and book-making app. Theresa serves on the Board of Safe Haven Medical Outreach, and volunteers her time as a photographer for several non-profits in the LA area.

Lynn Tejada (Public Relations Consultant) For 30 years, arts and culture publicist Lynn Tejada, the founder of PR firm Green Galactic, has been navigating the worlds of performing, visual, screened, and recorded art. Founded in 1993, in the heart of Hollywood California, the company provides publicity, promotion, and marketing consulting services to an eclectic array of mind-blowing and soul-touching clients who frequently blur the line between popular culture and fine art.

This program is organized by Michael Kearns as part of the 2023 Circa: Queer Histories Festival, presented by One Institute. The performance is co-presented with the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

  • The Los Angeles LGBT Center is a safe and welcoming place where the LGBTQ+ community finds help, hope, and support when it is needed the most.