There are very few directors in the industry who realize their true motives to direct and envision. Directing is an art that needs to feed from a feeling and articulate a particular emotion filled with passion and a desire; a compassion for the canvas of life. Andrew Overcash is one of those directors who understands the need to deliver and give back.
Overcash put his current show together for one reason: his brother.
“My brother was diagnosed with cancer when I was in eighth grade and after a four year battle with ups and downs, he did pass. During that time, St. Jude did so much for my family and my brother and even after his passing, they continued to stay in contact with us and be true blessings. My brother, even after finding out he was going to pass, always cared for others and never made anyone feel sorry for him so, from his constant caring for others and the amazing love my family received from St. Jude, I decided it was time to give back,” he says.
Overcash began a program in Peoria, Illinois called Young Performers for Young Patients which is created in such a sense to give young artists the opportunity to share their own stories as well as performing some of their favourites, all while in front of the theatre community, industry professionals and fans. Their last production of The Last Five Years raised $7,250 for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This time around, that amount should hopefully surpass.
“Once I moved to the city, I knew I wanted to do it again and when I met The Off 8th Collective, I realized that was a possibility [and] I decided there was no time like the present and went for it, which brings us to today.”
Young Performers for Young Patients is presenting a cabaret with funding from The Off 8th Collective, entitled My Story on December 22 in New York which will help to raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Centre. The show features six rising musical theatre performers who will sing songs from various musical theatre productions as well as sharing their own personal adventures in the big apple.
All proceeds from the night’s production will benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It is nothing like any other paediatric treatment and research facility the world has known. It has changed the face of treatment for children who are afflicted with cancer or other calamitous diseases.
This wouldn’t be the first show that Overcash has directed. His first official production was Labor Day at the Ministry of Experimental Theatre in Peoria, Illinois but he does joke about his other “first” directorial debut. “The first show I directed was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in my basement at the age of seven,” he laughs.
Overcash has come a long way though and could not be more excited to share this performance with audiences. “After our run this past weekend, there were minor things that needed adjustments as in any show but hearing and watching these individuals grow over the past month and see their openness as they perform makes me so proud of the work that has been accomplished. I hope many people are able to be here for the event,” he beams.
Like any theatrical production, it’s an environment filled with fun and play. A professor of Overcash’s told him once that the word “play” means to have fun and be joyous. And it seems like the key to having a successful production indeed. The young director quips, “It’s like being on the playground in the fifth grade while creating over the top stories.”
Overcash has nothing but appreciation for his cast and feels extremely blessed. The cast has been seen with a great openness about them and are able to let their fears see what works best for the performance.
When it comes to that concept of such a production, Overcash shares his process of vision to creation and says it’s one of the most difficult processes but nonetheless, rewarding. “I think that’s why I love and hate it all at the same time. When you have a vision for something, it tends to be too grand, particularly for me but with this process, I went into it with the mind set of this is not my show but our show to share and create among the cast,” he says.
He adds in his opinion that it’s far more interesting to see six individuals working together with focus than a group of six following one person’s ideas. “Working with the cast from that angle made the whole process much more rewarding because we were able to share our ideas, aspirations, fears and personal journeys with each other in order to create a more meaningful presentation because it was created together.”
Overcash isn’t just a director but an actor as well and feels that when you work in theatre, you tend to wear many hats and know when to switch them at any given time. “It’s just like the real world,” he adds. “I’m a son and wear that hat with my parents but I’m also a brother and wear that hat. In this process, I tended to wear the direct hat more often when with all the actors. I made it a point to set the tone as the director at the first rehearsal and keep that tone throughout the process.”
As for his own pieces during the cabaret of My Story, Overcash says he worked on his own performances other times during the week so there was no back and forth nature during rehearsals and it definitely made it easier for flow.
It’s evident that Overcash is grateful and has a deep value for life by giving others the opportunity to take part in enhancing the future of medicine and treatment for children. Clearly, he ceases the moment and that’s how it should be. We should give meaning to life, not wait for life to give us meaning.
My Story, a cabaret presented by Young Performers for Young Patients and The Off 8th Collective to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will be shown at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Centre on December 22 at 8PM ET.
The six performers, Rebecca Kopec, Katie Iacona, Katherine Wright, Neil Dingow, Brian Maxsween and Andrew Overcash, himself will perform musical theatre and contemporary songs while sharing their own stories about life in New York City.
The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the leading research facility that helps treat children with cancer and other serious illnesses while exploring further into the field of medicine and treatment to better their lives. See their official site for more information.
The Manhattan Movement and Arts Centre is located at 248 West 60th Street. For information and tickets call (646) 385-8493 or visit Manhattan Movement.
Be sure to look out for my interview in the next few days with one of the performers of "My Story", Rebecca Kopec.