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 –