Meet a very special man with a fantastic idea and the two friends that helped him make it happen…
In December 1993, Actor / Singer / Choreographer RIC CASTILLO decided to throw a Christmas party because, as he said at the time, “I have lots of wonderful friends who should meet each other.” He held the party at Moody’s Cafe, a local gay-owned restaurant and nightclub in Tampa, Florida. In attendance that night were Director / Actor JASON FORTNER and Singer / Actress LIGIA FERNANDEZ as well as a bevy of local entertainers from the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
As part of the evening’s festivities, Ric’s friends took to the Moody’s stage for an impromptu sing-along to the enjoyment of all. Ric loved it so much that he suggested to Jason and Ligia that they organize a similar gathering on the first Monday of every month thereafter. Tom, the manager of Moody’s Cafe, agreed to let the entertainers take over the performance space free of charge and BROADWAY CAFE SOCIETY was born.
Each month, the group would perform a theme-based cabaret performance saluting either a certain composer, entertainer or musical style with Ric, Jason and Ligia acting as co-hosts. There were no rules. Nothing was rehearsed. Music was always available for audience members daring enough to join in the fun. Later on, donations were collected to benefit The Tampa Aids Network and Broadway Cares / Equity fights AIDS – two organizations that assisted HIV-positive Ric with his quality of life.
When Moody’s Cafe closed, another Tampa club, Rascals, gave the group a second home.
Sadly, Ric passed away from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1996. Afterwards, busy work schedules and other circumstances forced the group to disband. Jason tried to revive the group for a while in 2002 (Ligia had relocated to New York City), but it was evident that without Ric’s guiding spirit it just wasn’t the same. It is in memory of our dear “brother from another mother” that we would like to dedicate BROADWAY CAFE SOCIETY.COM.
– Ligia & Jason –