Student fundraises through theatre
At 17 years old, Brian Lee, a performer, director and producer of local shows, has helped raise more than $100,000 for community groups.
A Grade 12 student at the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto’s Richmond Hill campus, Lee has earmarked the proceeds of his shows to such groups as the Teresa Group for children affected by HIV/AIDS and a school for children with autism.
He also raised $7,000 for a close family friend who needed cancer therapy that was not covered by the government at the time.
At his most recent fundraiser for Eating Disorders of York Region, he attracted about 275 people to a 1960s-themed variety show, and raised about $40,000.
“It is what I love to do. I chose the music and organized the show, and [Eating Disorders of York Region] put together the silent auction. It was great,” he said.
Lee, who last June started Steppin’ Out Theatrical Productions, a not-for-profit theatre company, said he has loved the theatre ever since he performed in such shows as The Lion King and Grease, as a student at Leo Baeck Hebrew Day School.
He has also performed in a number of other shows, including The Wizard of Oz, Fiddler on the Roof, Annie, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Music Man and Les Miserables.
For his role in The Wiz, he received the Randolph Young Company Award for Exemplary Performance, presented by the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts.
He has also been awarded a Markham Mayor’s Youth Task Force Award and a York Region Newspaper Group’s Celebration of the Arts bursary.
He is currently studying voice with Elaine Overholt, who has worked on such films as Hairspray and Chicago.
An arts major at CHAT, Lee plans on getting a bachelor’s degree, and then maybe he’ll continue on to law school. “If I can have a profession and continue on with theatre on the side, I will be very happy,” he said.
His company has been rehearsing since September for an upcoming production of Little Women, running Dec. 18 to 20 at Leah Posluns Theatre. For tickets, $25, and $20 for students and seniors, call 905-731-9593.
Steppin’ Out’s website address is www.steppinout.ca.