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Misfits And Drama Queens Find Their Voice In New Film “Speech & Debate”

"When We Rise" star Austin P. McKenzie plays an openly gay teen in the high school comedy.

How's this for a dramatic interpretation?

A trio of misfit teens—an openly gay guy, a nerdy overachiever, and an enthusiastic yet talentless actress—revive a defunct club and battle high school hypocrisy in Speech & Debate, a new movie based on an acclaimed off-Broadway comedy of the same name by out playwright Stephen Karam.

The Good Fight's Sarah Steele stars as wannabe Diwata, a role she originated off-Broadway, opposite The Family's Liam James and When We Rise breakout Austin P. McKenzie. McKenzie plays gay teen Howie, a role played off-Broadway by out actor Gideon Glick.

Haley Rynn Ringo

Directed by Dan Harris and adapted for the screen by Karam, a Tony winner for The Humans, Speech & Debate will premiere April 7 in select theaters and on VOD. Producers will donate 25 percent of the funds from New York screenings to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The film will be available exclusively on iTunes beginning April 2, coinciding with that evening's red carpet premiere screening at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre.

Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for the advancement of the arts, will serve as the New York premiere event’s advocacy partner. Guests at the event will have the opportunity to send postcards to their legislator in support of a pro-arts Congress, and fans are being asked to share the impact theater has had on their lives by using the hashtag #FindYourVoice.

“This movie is a love letter to musical theater nerds of all ages,” says producer Tom Rice in a statement.

Speech & Debate also features Roger Bart, Janeane Garofalo, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kal Penn, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Skylar Astin. Kristin Chenoweth, Darren Criss, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are among the Broadway stars who make cameos.

Chenoweth recorded an original song, “Losers Are Winners (Flying Free)” for the film's soundtrack, which will be released March 31 by Broadway Records.

Watch the Speech & Debate trailer below.

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