Virtual Create-A-Thon fundraiser helps non-profit ‘Unusual Suspects Theatre Co.’, group introduces underserved youth to the arts

The original article was featured on ABC 7.

LOS ANGELES — The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company has come up with unusual way to raise money. Through theatre, the staff and volunteers at this non-profit work hard daily to help underserved youth in our community. Doing that costs money; and to keep its programs going, actress and comedienne Melissa Peterman is helping out, hosting the first ever “Virtual Create-A-Thon.”

“For anyone who donates $250, or more, I will re-create their favorite scene from any movie or any play that they want,” said Peterman. “Like, you know, I mean, ‘Grease,’ you know, I don’t know, Sandy, maybe there’s like two of us? I mean, that’s gold, George, that’s gold!”

That’s one way Melissa Peterman plans to raise money to help all these kids stay engaged in the arts. They’re doing it now, virtually.

Peterman is hosting the Virtual Create-A-Thon to help the theatre company raise money to continue to mentor, educate and enrich the lives of our underserved youth, all through original theatre.

The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company is encouraging you to rise to this on-line challenge by creating something, getting donations, and then, as a thank you, performing what you’ve created so it can go on the theatre company’s website.

“Anyway we can reach these young people who are resources for us, they are our future and we’re going to do whatever we can to just elevate their voice,” said Melissa Denton, Executive Director of “The Unusual Suspects.”

These virtual classes are free to students who are achieving some priceless results, including confidence and commitment. One parent even interrupted a class to say this:

“Hey, I’ve been listening to this and, you know, my young person doesn’t pay this much attention and is so eager to get to class every day so whatever you’re doing here, it’s working!” said Denton.

“I’m a big believer that it can make a huge difference in these kids’ life and especially the kids that we’re reaching,” said Peterman. “Watching a kid get applauded for something that they created, you can see it in just the way they’re standing. And they’re, like, standing ovation? Bring it!”

Peterman thinks the future looks bright for these talented students.

“And I’m very nice to them because I need work and I know they’re going to be my boss,” laughed Peterman.

The Virtual Create-A-Thon runs through October 1st…with a goal of raising $275,000. For more information, head to “The Unusual”

A Gala picture is worth a thousand words…

Our 9th Annual Gala: Be Unusual
was an incredible night… 

Thank you to our dedicated honorees Markese Freeman & Kirsten Vangsness, our dynamic hostess Melissa Peterman, our generous sponsors and all of YOU who made contributions before, during and even after the big event!!

Through your support, our programming continues to deepen in exciting ways! 

This year, The Unusual Suspects will:

  • Engage 300+ underserved LAUSD students and incarcerated youth with 10 of our flagship Youth Theatre Residencies (culminating in 15 public performances for over 1200 audience members!)
  • Lead an innovative Neighborhood Voices program in Pacoima featuring almost 30 residents of all-ages culminating in a performance for their community!
  • Teach our VAST in-class program in middle & high school English classrooms serving 700+ students!
  • Inspire 40+ Pacoima residents by taking them to 3 professional theatre productions!
  • Grow as a proud founding member of the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network by providing 4 specially designed workshops at LA County Juvenile Probation camps for 160+ incarcerated minors!

Click HERE to view the whole album of Be Unusual pics on our Facebook page. And PLEASE don’t be shy about tagging yourself and others. Share your Be Unusual photos and story from the night!!

The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company believes every young person deserves to be seen, heard and understood. Through collaborative workshops, we work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to self-discovery, a sense of belonging, and the building of stronger families and communities.

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