As the gradual reopening of schools, churches, restaurants, recreational and community facilities begins to bring life-as-we-once-knew-it back to Burbank, one organization of the local artistic community has already made its return to the stage.
This past week, the Burbank-based Conundrum Theatre Company joined forces with the Burbank Community YMCA to stage a drive-in concert fundraiser to support the Y’s new Social Impact Center.
“As we’re starting to open back up, Conundrum is really excited to partner with the Y,” said Lisa Sedares, who serves as the group’s CEO and music director.
“Our performers are all vaccinated and have been wanting to get back to bringing quality entertainment to the community,” Sedares added. “But we knew we needed to make sure we could do something that was safe for audiences. That was when Bryan Snodgrass had an idea. Bryan, who is the COO of the Y [and] also serves on our board, thought it would be great for us to partner to do a fundraiser performance for their new Social Impact Center.”
Slated to open in June, the Y’s Social Impact Center will play an important role in being a resource center helping individuals, specifically young people, who identify as LGBTQIA.
Mary Cutone, who serves as the Y’s CEO and president, said she was excited to team up with Conundrum to put on a concert that, while inspiring and entertaining, would also provide financial benefit for their new facility.
“We are thrilled to open up our new Social Impact Center to support our LGBTQIA community,” Cutone said. “It will be the first of its kind in Burbank history. It will provide a safe space for youth to learn life skills, attend workshops, and improve their mental health in a variety of programming. Additionally, we will be working on social justice issues as well as foster care advocacy.”
The concert, which was presented as a matinee and evening performance in the Y’s parking lot this past Saturday and raised more than $1,000, included songs from 14 Broadway musicals. The principal cast, composed of Sedares, Snodgrass and Conundrum’s founder and CFO Jackie Brenneman, was rounded out by Jess Jani, Daniel Segura, Emma Nasfell, Nicole Yates, Michael Chipman and Ian Michaels.
With last week’s dip-of-the-toe into once again providing live performances, Sedares said the theater group is now actively working on shows for the fall.
“Our mission is to generate creative opportunities for actors, writers and musicians who have traditional day jobs, giving them the chance to create, produce and perform in innovative, high quality, and affordable theatrical productions,” said Sedares.
“We know that the arts are a necessary creative outlet for so many, and we can’t wait to continue our mission,” Sedares added. “Our plans are to continue partnering with the Y and other Burbank nonprofit organizations by organizing readings of plays by local writers and providing accessible education and workshops in acting, singing, dancing and directing. We plan to produce Broadway sing-a-longs and shows for both children and adults — original plays along with classic musicals — to create an exciting and affordable experience for audience members.”
According to Sedares, the group’s name stemmed from the conundrum many people face when it comes to finding a creative outlet and enjoying quality performances.
“If you go to see a show at the Pantages, you have to figure on spending $100, $200 or more, which is just not something a lot of people can do,” said Sedares. “Our hope is to make high-quality theater available to everyone while also providing a place where local performers can showcase their talent.
“Everyone in our group has day jobs. Bryan works for the Y, Jackie is an attorney, I’m a rocket scientist.” Sedares continued. “When it comes to the arts — live theatre and musical performances — people face a conundrum. How can they make time for what they have to do to make a living and still be creative? It is also a conundrum for people who love to see live performances. How can you afford the tickets, especially if you want to bring a family? It is our goal is to overcome those conundrums.”
To learn more about the Burbank Community YMCA and Conundrum Theatre Company, visit burbankymca. org or conundrumtheatreco.com.