|Steve has been a featured performer at
high schools, colleges and Universities all over the United States, including
Harvard University, Stanford University, Penn State, Indiana University,
University at California Riverside, Regis University in Colorado, Bucknell
University in Pennsylvania, Boston's Northeastern University, Alfred University
in New York, the University of Judaism, Maryville University (Catholic),
University of Memphis, Old Dominion University, Washington University,
Ohio State University, plus many high schools and community groups.
At first, Steve Schalchlin's (pronounced SHACK-lin) story seems unfortunately
ordinary. He's gay. He lives in a small Los Angeles suburb
with his partner in life, writer/director Jim Brochu. He was diagnosed
HIV-positive in 1993, and by 1996 he was near death.
But this is where things change--and the story becomes extraordinary.
Steve is a musician/composer, and to help him cope with his ordeal,
Jimmy gave him a series of songwriting assignments. Soon Steve had
ten complete songs, each covering a different phase of his illness.
That's when Jimmy decided to write a show around Steve's music. The
result was an exceptionally compelling piece of musical theatre called
Last Session, about a musician with AIDS who decides to make a final
recording before taking his own life.
Though it sounds like a downbeat story, The Last Session is
actually one of the most life-affirming shows you'll ever see. The
show garnered enormous critical acclaim, won numerous awards, and finally
closed after a successful seven-month run off Broadway and eight month
run in Los Angeles, following which it played in theatres across the country.
But there's more to the story than even this triumph. Here's
what else happened to Steve. When he started writing the music that
would become The Last Session, his health began to improve.
Then he was accepted into an AIDS research study to test a new drug, and
that helped even more. Suddenly, Steve Schalchlin wasn't dying--he
was living. And getting better.
To keep his family in Texas updated on his health, he created a website
called Living in the Bonus Round and
kept an online diary about his progress. Others soon found the website
and have turned to him for guidance and support about being gay, coming
out of the closet, living with AIDS, or to just talk about the fear, loneliness
and isolation that comes from dealing with any kind of serious or life-threatening
Now Steve travels the country, talking to schools, church groups,
etc., about AIDS, being gay, and the importance of acceptance and tolerance
for those whose lifestyles and opinions probably differ from those of the
Steve's story is an important one to tell. Hate crimes against
gays show no signs of stopping (witness Matthew Shepard) and there is still
no cure for AIDS. Both are national issues, and Steve Schalchlin
is spending every moment he can working to educate teenagers and adults
about a more compassionate point of view that can help those affected by
What people have said....
energy that comes from your music and the humor so well placed throughout
the program gave the audience and me a chance to catch our breath and therefore
the ability to really hear your message. The standing ovation at
the conclusion of your presentation was the beginning of a wave of renewed
awareness concerning HIV/AIDS. Teachers were not able to conduct
"business as usual" when returning to their classrooms since their students
needed to deal with their feelings about you, your music, your story, your
I would have loved my own children
to have seen this presentation. Your message and the way it was delivered
would be an asset to any school's AIDS Awareness program.
--Anthony L. Singe
Superintendant of Schools
Locust Valley Central School District
Locust Valley, New York
|"Everyone I have spoken
to--Rabbis, Jewish community professionals, parents and teens have given
you rave reviews! You touched on something here! Sometimes
it is very difficult to "get through" to our communities. We want
to teach them--we want them to HEAR what we are saying, and we want to
touch them in some way. I know that you did all of those things.
I was delightfully astounded at your ability to be honest and frank in
a wonderful way."
--Lisa Soble Siegmann, Director
Columbus Family Jewish Education Project
we experienced that afternoon was both unexpected and unforgettable....He
told it and sang it simply, but it came from a depth that one seldom experiences
from a performer. He sang about AIDS, about his medicines, his physicians,
his nurses, his friends, and about his life and death. He made me
think, question, laugh, and cry. And when it was over, I felt somehow
Upon later reflection, the best way to
describe Steve's performance is that so seldom do we experience an honest
person telling the truth in an articulate and passionate way.
--D.W. Stechschulte, Jr., MD
a sophomore at Jericho High School. You are a true inspiration to
all the hearts that you have deeply touched. Your positive outlook
on life is so amazing that my admiration for you comes from deep within
my heart. Your wonderful sense of humor and the way you write your
songs have made me realize that just because you have a disease does not
mean you can't live your life to the fullest...As I was listening intently
to your songs, I had tears in my eyes. They were not tears of pity,
however, these tears were tears of respect as well as joy because I have
never met a person with so much ambition and optimism when dealing with
a very serious issue.
Jericho High School
a 16 year old Junior at Davis High School, where you performed Frdiay.
I thought you should know you made an impact here. As a student,
I know you won a lot of respect and admiration from the kids that saw you,
and that's no easy thing to do. What's more, you've got them talking.
There was a buzz going around DHS all afternoon. We've had facts
thrown at us, been lectured endlessly, and put through workshops on HIV
till we're blue in the face, but something about your sense of humor and
frank attitude touched all of us. Knowing that you're here
sharing your bonus round with all of us is an experience all its own.
Davis Senior High School
|We, as physicians, have
both the privilege and the responsibility of trying to care for the critically
ill and often help them accept and deal with their illnesses and often
very grim prognoses.
What was particularly impressive with Steve was how he could deal openly
with the many taboo subjects in a very matter of fact and moving manner.
I would very strongly support opportunities for more medical and other
care giving staff to hear from Steve. It has been a very memorable experience
for me, and I'm sure many of my colleagues.
Captane P. Thomson, MD
Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and NeurologyClinical Professor
UCD School of Medicine
Former President, California Psychiatric Association