New Yorkers of the Year: LES’ers Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz

Julie Atlas Muz and Mat Frazer on the set of, "Jack and the Beanstock." Photo by Laura Vogel.
Julie Atlas Muz and Mat Frazer on the set of, “Jack and the Beanstock.” Photo by Laura Vogel.

Two Lower East Side artists take center stage today in the New York Times’ annual series highlighting reader-nominated “New Yorkers of the Year.”

Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz just wrapped up their pantomime production of Jack and the Beanstock at the Abrons Arts Center. The couple was married in the Abrons theater back in 2012, live on Grand Street and produced an edgy version of Beauty & the Beast at the LES performing arts venue in 2014. Here’s part of today’s Times tribute:

This year, they decided they “wanted to spread the love and give something back to this place that has given us so much,” Mr. Fraser said. So for the first time, the couple broke from their repertoire of risqué theater and staged a show for families — and they filled the audience with inner-city children. Many were from the Henry Street Settlement, a social service agency that runs the arts center. By the final show on Saturday, more than 500 children who are homeless, living in public housing or at the federal poverty level had seen the show free.

…On opening night, a stranger from the audience, who was crying, approached Ms. Muz. She was a gay woman, whose partner was transgender, and had been struggling to tell her child how he could explain the relationship to his peers at school. “She was so grateful for the casting choices because her sons were able to see a drag queen, and a girl playing a guy, and have it be normalized and fun and not talked about,” Ms. Muz said. Mr. Fraser added, “We’re outsiders with inclusivity at the heart of what we do.”

Read more here. [You can also check out our preview of Jack and the Beanstock here.]