I just LOVE surprises! Ok, maybe not all surprises (parking tickets AREN’T cool). I’m talking the good kind of surprises, like discovering you still have thirty minutes before your alarm goes off, or finding a twenty dollar bill in the back pocket of a pair of jeans you haven’t worn in a year.
On Wednesday night, my husband asked me if I was interested in seeing a musical about Uganda that our good friend, Mike was organizing. Seeing as we are going on our own African Adventure this summer, and I love Mike and anything to do with music, I was in- no questions asked.
As we wound our way high up into Laurel Canyon, images of a thick red curtain and eating a Kit Kat at the theater started to fade. I wondered aloud,
“I guess so,” Jamison said offhandedly, double-checking the address on the invitation.
Pulling up to the valet, the rain began to pour; we were ushered into a most unique, all white, brick home nestled high in the hills, with dozens of yummy candles creating a cozy haven from the spring rain, and, instantly, I knew we were in for a treat. To my surprise there were many familiar faces munching on piping hot pizzas and delicious salads, and enjoying drinks from the bar.
After and hour or so our friend, Mike, gathered us into the living room and explained that he had first come across Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould- the creative activists behind the amazing-ness we were about to experience- in a janitor’s closet that was converted into a speakeasy, of all places! Mike said he knew immediately, that he had to share it with as many people that he cared about as possible.
The premise of the musical from their website:
Griffin, a black American volunteer arrives from New York City to help build a village school and escape his church’s probing into his sexuality. But when he falls into a complicated relationship with a group of destitute, orphaned teenagers, he becomes obsessed with a mission that will change his and their lives forever. From the beautiful rolling hills of the Ugandan countryside to a stifling apartment in New York City, from a joyous celebration of African youth to a terrifying abduction 8000 miles away, Witness Uganda documents the story of a man battling to find his place in a world full of injustice and inhumanity and explores the question “is changing the world even possible?”
And that experience became the foundation for Matt (a Jonathon Larson award-winning composer) and Griffin to create the heartfelt, moving and highly entertaining musical that is gaining praise, awards and most importantly garnering support for the Uganda Project, which simply put by Griffin, changes lives not by constructing buildings or changing infrastructure, but simply through friendship, love and learning.
To get an idea of what The musical, Witness Uganda is all about check out the video below.
They had some lovely female guests join them on onstage, like the talented Katie Boeck.
And the best surprise was still to come. To close out their performance, they invited us to all join in for a sing-a-long. So, amid glowing candle light with the rain pelting down on the roof, new and old friends and perfect strangers, too, gathered together to share a peaceful song called Bela Musana, meaning “Be The Light”, and it was downright magical.