Broadway-style performances coming to United Ability’s Journey of HOPE on August 28

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Alie B.Gorrie is performing at Red Mountain Theatre for the United Ability’s Journey of HOPE. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Broadway is coming to Birmingham, thanks to Magic City native Alie B. Gorrie and her fellow entertainers Evan Ruggerio and Blake Stadnik.

Save the Date, Hop Online

The trio, who each have disabilities, are veteran performers on Broadway, top-rated networks shows, and concert halls throughout the nation.  

This Saturday, August 28th, 6:00pm, they are headlining United Ability’s Journey of HOPE fundraiser presented by Medical Properties Trust. The virtual event will be live-streamed.

Click HERE for all the details.

Each year, our community comes together for one evening to celebrate the thousands of journeys taken by loved ones with disabilities and their families who benefit from United Ability.

The live performance and auction will be held at the new Red Mountain Theatre Arts campus. The event honors one of Birmingham’s most beloved corporate citizens — Brasfield & Gorrie.

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Read on about why this year’s event is all the more inspiring because of Alie B. and her friends.

A Homecoming

“I grew up at Red Mountain Theatre!” Allie B told me when we started our interview about the upcoming Journey of HOPE performance.

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Alie B. Gorrie at Red Mountain Theatre. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

After college at Nashville’s Belmont University, she spent five years performing in musicals and plays in New York City and on tours around the country.  

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“Actors were out of a job. I would say 80% of the people in my circle left the city (NYC),” Alie B. explained. “I came back to Birmingham, and now work full time at Red Mountain Theatre as the community education manager.”

Disability Advocacy

Now that Alie B. is back in town, she is thrilled to support United Ability and Journey of HOPE.  Disability advocacy has been one of her passions.

“It’s so fun being with United Ability now, because I grew up doing disability advocacy here in Birmingham in a different sort of way,” she said. “I have low vision and so when I was growing up, I started an organization that helped other kids with low vision get what they needed. I’m definitely no stranger to the fact that disability advocacy is really needed here more than ever, and disability organizations need the support.”

While she was in New York, Alie B. advocated for disability inclusion in theater. It makes the upcoming Journey of HOPE event all the more special because it is using theater to raise awareness.

Joining the Performance

Two close friends are joining Alie B. on the Journey of HOPE stage this Saturday – Evan Ruggerio and Blake Stadnik. Both are rising stars in the entertainment business and they are both living with a disability. 

“Evan is a musical theater actor, dancer, musician and he’s an amputee,” described Alie B.  “He’s a tap dancer that dances with a peg leg. He has appeared on Ellen and toured with Jason Mraz. He’s a phenomenal artist and person.”

“And yep, his Instagram name is Lord Peg Leg! And you’ll see him tap dance!” she smiled.

Here is a video of Jason Mraz & Evan Ruggerio:

Blake Stadnik completes the troup. If Blake’s name sounds familiar, he has appeared on the popular NBC series ”This is Us.” 

“We met in an acting class, and he also has low vision,” she added

Sneak Peek

So what will you see at Journey of HOPE? 

“Expect everything from Broadway music to Billy Joel,” Alie B. told us. “You can expect some tap dancing from all three of us, not just Evan, even though he’ll be doing most of it. You can expect a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. The energy from us three will be very high.”

They are also going to share their experiences to inspire others living with disabilities to follow their passions and live out their dreams.  

In fact, “dream new dreams” is the mantra that United Ability’s late CEO, Dr. Gary Edwards used to inspire all he came into contact with. It’s what United Ability does as you will throughout Saturday evening. 

Honoring Brasfield & Gorrie

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United Ability buildings built by Brasfield & Gorrie. Photo via United Ability

Obviously, the upcoming live performance also means a great deal to Alie B. because it honors her father Jim Gorrie and the company he has led for decades.

“It is exciting for me to see Brasfield & Gorrie honored because they are committed to literally building a more accessible world for people with disabilities. It’s so exciting that they are being recognized by an organization that champions inclusion. I love the company, and all the people there, especially the boss, he’s my favorite person!”

Don’t Miss It — August 28th

Set your reminder for Saturday, August 28th, 6:00pm. Gather up your friends and neighbors. Watch the show, participate in the virtual auction and give. 
Visit : Facebook Live @unitedability or bit.ly/JOH2021

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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