Pictured: Griffin Matthews (center) with the ensemble of 'Invisible Thread.'
Invisible Thread, now playing Off-Broadway, is the semiautobiographical and written by real-life couple Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews. Based on Matthews's volunteer trip to Uganda, a country known for laws which criminalize homosexuality, and their aide work to help a group of young Ugandans, the musical is directed by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus.
Matthews took his unlikely journey to Uganda after he was kicked out of his church choir for being gay, according to NPR. He went to the country to volunteer, but after becoming disillusioned with the organization he was to work with, he began tutoring local children in a village library.
The musical takes place both in Uganda and in New York, and stars Matthews as himself, with his white Jewish boyfriend, the character Ryan in the musical played by Corey Mach. The show's title number is extremely catchy, and the production, which initially began as an effort to raise money for the students Matthews tutored, has now been reviewed in both The New York Times and Variety.
The idea behind the musical is unusual enough that it has garnered attention, but Matthews told NPR that he was initially hesitant when Gould, who is a songwriter, suggested writing it.
Griffin Matthews and Michael Luwoye in 'Invisible Thread.'
"I thought that was the worst idea I'd ever heard," Matthews said, "Nobody wants to hear a musical about Uganda."
But Gould thought people did. He wrote five songs, which morphed into a full-length musical directed by Diane Paulus. "The couple which is at the heart of this complicated piece -- you know, an interracial gay male couple that is trying to figure out how to marry -- so to speak -- their desire to make change with all the mistakes that they make, with all the challenges that are thrown their way -- and that's what the musical really looks at," she told NPR.
Over the years, the musical in all its iterations has raised about $200,000 for the Ugandan students Matthews tutored, according to NPR. Most of them have graduated from college, so in that measure, the musical has already been successful.
As we reported in February, all proceeds from the sale of Invisible Thread on iTunes benefits the education of Ugandan students. To find out how you can help with this worthwhile cause, click here.
Watch "Beautiful" from Invisible Thread, and a music video directed by Andrew Keenan-Bolger for the catchy title song, "Invisible Thread."