Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Happy Mollydays" - A Gleeful Holiday Train Wreck

The Dish: Molly "Equality" Dykeman's second annual holiday show is a hot mess.  Thank goodness her creator, the amazingly versatile Andrea Alton, planned it that way.  Working through her Percocet-and-Cheetos-induced haze, Molly inadvertently presents a Christmas show that is a rollicking good time.  Whether you've been nice or naughty, "Happy Mollydays" should be on your Christmas list.

Synopsis:  Poet/security guard/ladies' lady Molly "Equality" Dykeman's holiday variety show features her holiday ramblings, poetry, song and dance, and the amazing Mollettes.  Molly's guests for the two performances include Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, burlesque stars Bambi Galore and Jubilee Diamond, porn star Will Clark, comedians Rick Younger and Adam Sank, singer Sabrina Chap and drag starlet Dallas DuBois.

In Depth:  I had a great time at Molly's last holiday show, "A Molly, Jolly Christmas," so I expected good things from this year's extravaganza.  I was not at all disappointed.  In fact, Molly was in rare form, no doubt because Andrea Alton, the actress behind Molly, has had numerous opportunities to hone Molly over the past year.  As Alton continues letting Molly's hair down (well, her mullet) at various events here and abroad, her performances get tighter and funnier.  This was one of her best.

There are a lot of strong points about this year's show.  The guest stars are amazing.  The Mollettes are lovely.  The choreography is terrific (and I give extra props to choreographer John Paolillo who has to create dance moves for a character who is supposed to be really high and not able to dance particularly well).  And the jokes come fast and furious.

But Alton's true strength is her improvisational skills.  Molly is a shameless flirt, and anyone near the stage becomes part of the act.  Alton incorporates technical gaffes that might fluster a lesser performer, and make them seem like they were scripted.  Molly is Molly from start to finish, with no breaks in character.  It's that commitment to the character, along with her wonderful comic timing, that makes her shows a pleasure to watch.

The variety acts in the first night of the two-night run offered a range of entertainment.  Bambi Galore performed a burlesque homage to "A Christmas Story."  Ever wonder what Ralphie had on under that pink bunny costume?  Bambi was more than happy to show you.  Rick Younger brought the house down with his standup and singing.  Molly interviewed porn star/activist/entrepreneur Will Clark, in a whacked-out style that only Molly can do.  Village Voice columnist Michael Musto played a cheeky riff on Molly's poetry by reading poetry by Hollywood celebrities.  The poetry was pretty much as bad as you'd expect.

Speaking of poetry, in a gracious bow to her gay male fans, Molly incorporated an explicit poem about hot, holiday, man-on-man lovin'.  Watching her gag her way through it was hilarious.

The next performance of "Happy Mollydays" will feature comic Adam Sank, burlesque star Jubilee Diamond, singer Sabrina Chap and drag starlet Dallas DuBois.

Director Derek Jamison did an outstanding job creating a tight, fast-paced show, and I'd be remiss in not mentioning the excellent costumes created by Anthony Catanzaro.

"Happy Mollydays" may be more warped than most of the holiday fare you'll see around town, but if you like your comedy a little queer (in all the best ways), this is the Christmas show for you.

"Happy Mollydays"
Featuring Andrea Alton (Molly "Equality" Dykeman), Lindsay Bracco (Mollette), Victoria Smalc (Mollette), Michael Musto, Bambi Galore, Rick Younger, Will Clark, Adam Sank, Jubilee Diamond, Sabrina Chap and Dallas DuBois

Director: Derek Jamison
Choreographer: John Paolillo
Costume Designer: Anthony Catanzaro
Producer: Irwin Kroot

December 8 at 7 PM
December 21 at 9:30 PM

The Laurie Beechman Theatre (at the West Bank Cafe)
407 W. 42nd Street

Molly and the Mollettes
Photo by Laura Turley

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Homo Erectus" - Fun, sexy burlesque

The Dish:  If you're expecting "Magic Mike," this might not be the show for you, but if you like your burlesque to be a queer mix of sex, humor, gross out, costumes, silliness and fun, you won't go wrong at "Homo Erectus."  This monthly burlesque show at the Stonewall Inn is a fun, wild time. 

Synopsis:  Monthly, mostly male (there is always on female performer for variety) burlesque show featuring some of the best boylesque performers in New York at the home of the gay rights movement, the Stonewall Inn.  Some acts are sexy, some are funny, some are gross, some are acrobatic -- you just never know what you're going to get.  Each show has a theme (October - Boolesque, November - The Bizarre, December - Geeks Out), that loosely ties the show together.

In Depth:  I've seen two "Homo Erectus" shows so far, "Boolesque" and "The Bizarre," and I'm hooked.  It's not just that some of the performers are easy on the eyes (I mean, you can get that from the go-go dancers at any number of bars in town).  It's that they're so damned talented and inventive.

The November show, "Homo Erectus - The Bizarre," featured boylesque legend Tigger! as the host and Lucky Charming as the go-go boy of the night.  Tigger! kicked things off with a funny/creepy bondage number with the aptly named Mr. Gorgeous.  Contortionist Topher Bousquet followed with a number that showed off his flexibility and hula hoop skills.  Matt Knife (creator of "Homo Erectus") then performed a striptease that involved him slowly cutting away parts of his costume to the accompaniment of musicians Fein and Dandee (amazing performers).  Mr. Gorgeous returned, in crab costume, to perform a striptease that ended up with him slathering on suntan lotion.  Bambi Galore, this month's lone female performer, created a truly amazing and horrifying tribute to the late, great Divine.  It could have been a lost scene from "Pink Flamingos," and is probably something I will carry with me to the grave.  Alfie Bunz performed a hilarious mambo-inspired strip tease.  The final act of the evening, Brewster, featured a fascinating and sexy transformation from animal to man.

While Lucky Charming was the go-go dancer for this show (each show featured a go-go boy who starts the show and assists with scene changes, etc.), I would be remiss if I didn't mention that he was a performer in my favorite scene from the October Boolesque show.  He and performer Rique Shaw did a spoof of the "Twilight" films, imaging what might happen when Edward (Charming) and Jacob (Shaw) finally acted on the homoerotic tension between them.  The performance featured the unveiling of a sparkling Edward and an inconvenient transformation of Jacob into wolf form.  Very, very funny.

Another performance that I have to mention from the October show was Foxy Vermouth's strip tease.  Since this was a Halloween show, she wasn't content with just removing her sexy costume during her strip -- she slowly and sexily peeled off her skin as well.  It was a great makeup trick, and perfect for the show.

While reading about burlesque performers isn't quite the same as seeing them live, I hope you've gotten a sense of what to expect from "Homo Erectus" and will stop by for a show.  Their next performance is Thursday, December 13th.  The show, "Homo Erectus - Geeks Out," will be their homage to all things geek and all things Christmas.  I'm excited to see what they come up with.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Well-Strung - Not Your Father's String Ensemble

The Dish: The four handsome musicians who make up Well-Strung show that they are more than just pretty faces.  Whether you're a music lover or just like eye candy, this is the show for you.

Synopsis: Edmund Bagnell (Violin), Christopher Marchant (Second Violin), Daniel Shevlin (Cello) and Trevor Wadleigh (Viola) move and amuse their audience as they play a combo of well-known classics and modern pop hits, ably arranged by David Levinson.

In Depth: You couldn't swing a cat in P'town this summer without hitting one of the boys from Well-Strung.  They were everywhere.  When they weren't performing at the Art House, they were out front playing for the crowds on Commercial Street and handing out flyers.  They showed up at Showgirls, P'town's terrific talent show.  You'd see them out and about quite a lot.

Despite that, I only managed to see bits and pieces of their work.  Thank goodness they came to New York, so I could see more than just the snippets I'd seen during the summer.

First, the obvious.  Their name is pretty awesome.  It lets the audience know that they're in for a fun and cheeky evening, and shows that they know they're playing for a mostly gay male crowd.  I mean, what gay man could resist a pun like that?

And let's face it, they are hot.  Even if they never played a note, they're fun to look at.  One has an adorable baby face; another is ripped; one is tall, dark and handsome; and one has a great mischievous smile.  But when they play, it's easy to forget all that and focus on the music.  Whether it's Bach and Mozart or Britney and Rihanna, these four burn it up.

Some of the best moments of the show come from watching the four musicians interact with one another during the songs.  Smiles, nods, broad gestures with their body, a slight roll of the eye - all of this is as entertaining to watch as the music is to listen to.

Though they have the looks and the musical talent, the one thing that could use a little work is their patter.  The music is often framed by stories (either about themselves, their lives, their loves, or what have you).  Some of this is a little clunky.  While it's meant to sound like the guys just chatting with the audience, it comes across as the guys reciting their lines.  If they were just as relaxed and natural as they are when they play, the show would be nearly perfect.

Sadly, their current show has closed, but you can keep up with Well-Strung on their website (

Here's a little sample of Well-Strung in action.

Featuring: Edmund Bagnell, Christopher Marchant, Trevor Wadleigh and Daniel Shevlin
Conceived by Christopher Marchant and Mark Cortale
Written by Donna Drake and Mark Cortale
Additional Material by Jeffery Roberson
Music Arrangements by David Levinson
Additional Arrangements by Daniel Shevlin
Directed by Donna Drake
Production Stage Manager: Timothy Babcock
Lighting Design: Chris Page
Sound Design: Shelley Jennings
Spotlight: Valerie Stanford

The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at the West Side YMCA
10 West 64th Street

Closed November 10th, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Internet access is spotty, so sorry for the lack of updates.  Hope to be back soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

TOSOS's Chesley/Chambers Reading - "Wilson and Wilson"

The Dish: If you are interested in LGBT theatre, new voices and old, and want to mix and mingle with the writers, actors, and directors that are bringing these shows to the NY stage, you should be attending the Robert Chesley/Jane Chambers Playwrights Project reading series.

Synopsis: "Wilson and Wilson" comprised a reading of Lanford Wilson's "Say de Kooning" and Doric Wilson's "The Boy Next Door," a work that was in progress when he passed away last year.  "Say de Kooning" features a drama filled afternoon with three unlikely housemates as they pack up their summer rental.  "The Boy Next Door" tells the story of a fading porn star who sees a chance for a new career when a playwright sends him his latest work, a story based on the porn star's life.  But things never quite work out they way one expects.

In Depth: On October 20th, TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence) held it's latest Robert Chesley/Jane Chambers Playwrights Project reading, curated by Kathleen Warnock.  I've been to several of these readings and am always struck by the outstanding quality, not only of the plays being highlighted, but of the talented pool of actors and directors that bring these plays to life.  The latest reading featured work by two members of the Caffe Cino crowd, Lanford Wilson and Doric Wilson (Doric is the founder of the original TOSOS company, and along with Mark Finley and Barry Childs, the latest incarnation of TOSOS.  He passed away suddenly last year, while still working on "The Boy Next Door.").

These readings offer playwrights an opportunity to have their work read in front of an invited audience.  They are not staged, and are not followed by Q&A or other discussion.  However, attendees at the reading are invited to an informal reception after the show to meet with the actors, directors and playwrights (when they are in attendence).  It's an excellent opportunity to imerse yourself in the world of LGBT theatre.

Visit to find out more.

Justin Utley Stands Up for Provincetown

By Greg Waagner

Summertime on Cape Cod brings all manner of interesting and talented folks to Provincetown. This was most certainly the case when the Crown and Anchor Cabaret welcomed singer-songwriter Justin Utley to its glittery stage for a one-night engagement in July.

Nominated by the LGBT Academy of Recording Arts for four 2010 OUTMusic Awards, including song and artist of the year (and winner for Best Folk/Country Song of the Year for the anthemic “Stand for Something”), Justin began his career as a Mormon contemporary singer/songwriter, garnering plenty of local praise as well as being a featured performer at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002. After coming out – and then enduring two years of the Mormon church’s conversion therapy – Justin wrote a self-excommunication letter and broke ties with his Mormon past, which is pretty much the history that inspired his award-winning song.

This reviewer is of a generation which remembers a time when performers were rarely out and almost never sang songs that were overtly about any gay experience. This is happily no longer the case, but let’s not rush to apply labels. While it’s cool for the LGBT community to embrace someone with the descriptor of “gay” singer/songwriter, that’s potentially limiting for an artist whose music clearly has appeal not only to his gay brothers and sisters, but to all music-lovers and fans of the human experience.

So, what about Justin? His show was just terrific, with music and memoir woven together effortlessly. While already a fan of his music, I’ll admit wondering beforehand what introducing memoir about his experiences of growing up Mormon and being put through ex-gay therapy would do to the evening. After all, it seems not to be the most uplifting of tales. Justin’s stories of surviving the experience most certainly are uplifting, however, and through the prism of his bright spirit are both rendered both fascinating and entertaining.

As Justin talks, it is clear it is that spirit (and the support of a few strong and intelligent women in his family) that helped him become this sincere, friendly and happy guy on the other side of that journey. He admits having been the Boy Scout suspicious New Yorkers accused him of being when – “just off the boat from Utah” – he would hold doors and say “hello” to people and also to being caught off guard by the fact that “pot cookies” weren’t named for being a stovetop creation.

Such innocence might lead you to think Justin wouldn’t be much of a rocker, but he’ll prove you wrong from the first notes of tunes like "My Great Escape" and "Nothing This Real" (both about escaping the gravitational pull of Salt Lake City’s Mormons to explore the rest of the world). This guy can bring it, his voice ringing through the room and bringing to life his story-driven lyrics, whether he’s rocking out or letting his voice soar, ballad-style.

Although happy and partnered now (Sorry boys, Facebook says!), Justin has penned his share of break-up songs. They’re a musical staple, after all, and isn’t it always pain that inspires creation? "State of Loneliness" came of a relationship thwarted by another’s struggles with substance abuse and is full of the pain and frustrated heartache born of that struggle (“…I’ll tell you how I feel and never live it down…” ). After the show, Justin worried to us about whether it was a moment that brought the audience down, but that’s not the case at all, as he’s taken that painful situation and turned it into something beautiful – a song that perhaps can bring new light for others who’ve been in similar situations.

"It Is What It Is" is a different kind of break-up song, though: an empowering riff about cutting one’s losses and saying so long to a self-absorbed hot mess. Utley says it’s the fiddle in the studio recording of this one that got him the Country-Western label, and after it’s release, he found himself shopping for boots and flannel to fit the profile when he was to perform at Utah Pride. There’s also a country sound to "Guided Back to You," which is sort of a break-up song, but one with hope that - in this case - the break-up is only temporary ( “…just check your feet’s direction on this map that’s made for two, and if I’m ever lucky, I’ll be guided back to you…”).

"Goodbye Goodbye" is another one that falls into the category of Empowering Break-Up Song, but this one carries a slightly different weight, since it comes from an earlier time in Justin’s story. This one, he tells us, is about a girl he dated as part of his ex-gay therapy homework assignment. It seemed to be going well, but when he found out on Christmas that he was just one of a number of guys she was dating, he learned a lesson about “not making someone a priority who considers us only an option.”

For the show, Justin alternated back and forth between performing solo on stage, with just a guitar, or with the addition of pre-recorded band tracks behind him for a fuller sound (One imagines how much fun it would be to hear Justin perform with a live band in a stadium setting, perhaps at one of the Pride events he’s becoming so popular for.) But then Justin crossed over to the piano for a few numbers, wowing us with a fresh and wonderful arrangement of a piano/vocal cover of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," which couldn’t have sounded less like the Tears for Fears original.

Then, as if to answer the desire for other backing musicians, Justin welcomed his bassist friend, Ricardo Rodriguez, to the stage for a performance of Utley’s latest single, "Moment For Me" and then – far too quickly – the evening was coming to a close with Justin’s award-winning "Stand For Something," bringing the audience to their feet.

During the course of the evening, Justin’s vocal range and song constructions carried for this reviewer echoes of Jonathan Larsen and "Rent" (Justin would be a great Roger, IMHO). After the show, I mentioned this and pointed out how his songs all come from such interesting stories and experiences and asked if he’d ever considered creating a musical to showcase those songs. He hadn’t, as it turns out, but was gracious enough to respond like it was the best idea ever, even if he didn’t agree.

So, pay attention, music and theatre fans. It’s true Broadway may already have "The Book of Mormon," but The Book of Justin is just a few chapters in and anything’s possible. Keep your eyes peeled for performance notices in your area (and find him on Facebook), so you don’t miss an opportunity to hear this terrific artist when he comes to your town.


A note to the venue: The Crown and Anchor hosts a heavy schedule of programs and presentations during the Summer season. We’d surely be disappointed if they didn’t brighten our summer nights with a glittering array that includes Tawny Heatherton, Matt Alber, Miss Richfield, Dina Martina and so many others. But that heavy schedule may be having an unfortunate side-effect. As Justin was introducing his last number, the stage manager’s voice was heard over the sound system of the caberet, encouraging him to wrap things up, as the next show’s audience was que-ed up outside waiting to enter. And as our eager applause faded after that song, we were quickly reminded by that same voice to find our way to the exit to clear the way for the next show.

Sure, everyone understands that other shows are going on and it’s a busy time of year, but this unprofessional bum’s rush of both artist and audience left this reviewer feeling like this was less of a cultural event and more an amusement park ride, which is not only unfair to the performer, but seems like exactly the wrong impression to leave with an audience after a $25 cover charge and the price of drinks.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Is That a Sonic Screwdriver in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Following in the footsteps of Hotsy Totsy Burlesque’s successful "Mad Men," "Game of Thrones" and Superhero themed shows, Cherry Pitz and Joe the Shark present Doctor Who Returns To Hotsy Totsy.

The Doctor is sick and tired of everyone making a profit off of his name, his face, all over the Internet, and even his brilliant mind can’t find a way to delete every reference. So embracing his fame he’s decided to host a galactic burlesque show, but like any celebrity soirĂ©e, there are a lot of party crashers - Daleks, Weeping Angels, Cybermen, and so forth. But the Doctor has a message for the nearly naked space monsters – “Run!”

Hotsy Totsy is New York’s only episodic, monthly burlesque show featuring a new script each month and a rotating cast. Hotsy Totsy is a high camp soap opera featuring some of the best burlesque talent New York has to offer.

This months show features performances by: Cherry Pitz, Lana Firebird, Lewd Alfred Douglas, Little Motown, Matt Knife, Nasty Canasta, Nelson Lugo, Ruby Solitaire, Teddy Turnaround and Handsome Brad as Dr. Who!

Every third Tuesday of the month, you are invited to the basement of The Home For Wayward Girls and Fallen Women. The residents of the home need money to keep their hotel open and to buy G-strings and glitter. Sadly, the shows have had their technical difficulties and in the past as they’ve had to combat, zombies, gangsters, human-animal hybrids, televangelists and snake oil salesmen. The performers promise you beautiful, clothing-averse women, lots of laughs, spinning tassels, and flying underpants. So join us for Hotsy Totsy Burlesque at The Home For Wayward Girls and Fallen Women where the motto is “We’ve fallen, we can’t get up, and we like it that way!”

R-Bar * 218 Bowery (between Prince and Spring)
8pm * September 18, 2012 * $10
Advanced tickets available on
Sponsored by Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum who promise drink specials and awesome swag!

Upcoming Shows:
Oct. 16th -- Cherry Pitz: Vampire Hunter.
Nov. 20th -- A Charlie Brown Burlesque Thanksgiving.
Dec. 18th -- Hotsy Totsy Tribute to the Star Wars Holiday Special!

Photo by Ben Trivett - Handsome Brad and Cherry Pitz

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Hairy Tails & Rhymes" - It's not Grimm, you silly Goose

It takes a warped mind to turn innocent, beloved fairy tales into raunchy, gender-bending dance numbers.  Thank goodness choreographer John Paolillo has a warped mind.  His latest creation, Hairy Tails & Rhymes, takes the characters you know from childhood - Humpty Dumpty, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack & Jill, and Little Miss Muffet, to name a few - strips them bare, and shows you there was a lot more going on in those stories than you thought.

Featuring some hot dancers (I dare you to sit still during the "Three Men in a Tub" scene!), vibrant choreography, marvelous strip tease, and the dirtiest nursery rhymes you've ever heard, Hairy Tales is on this month's must-see list.

Hairy Tales is performed Tuesdays at 8 PM in July (remaining performances July 24th and 31st) at XL Cabaret, 512 W. 42nd Street.

Hairy Tails & Rhymes
Creator/Director/Choreographer - John Paolillo
Cast: Audry Hamilton, Brandon Mason, Pixie, David Thomas Guggino, Jubilee Diamond, Luxury Cartax, Marisa Jo Merless, David Gifford, and Holly Dae

With special guest Molly "Equality" Dykeman

Gay artists tackle anti-gay issues with laughter in "Gay Camp" at NY Fringe

Gay comedic actors Christian Mansfield (Broadway Bares, National Tour of 42nd Street), Ken Urso, and Philip Mutz (also co-author) will star in the upcoming production of Gay Camp in this year’s New York International Fringe Festival, running from August 11 – August 22.

With Mansfield, Urso, and Mutz playing more than a dozen different zany characters, Gay Camp is a quick-change farce that follows the stories of several young campers at a gay reform camp. They have been sent away by their parents to be ‘fixed’. Instead, they learn how to love – themselves and one another.

Partners Philip Mutz (co-author) and Phillip Fazio (director) find the project particularly near and dear to their hearts. Believing laughter is sometimes the best medicine, this production leaves no (comedy) stone unturned. While successfully dissecting stereotypes and sending a powerful message about tolerance and acceptance, Mutz and Fazio still find a way to inject every moment with humor.

Start with a deliciously evil headmaster and a closeted lesbian guidance counselor, throw in a few electrified fences, disco balls, boy-boy love, girl-girl love, gay Twister, Rick Santorum surprises, slow-motion fantasies, whips, handcuffs, flannel, and more innuendos than you can shake a dildo at, and you've got Gay Camp. Gay Camp is fast, funny, and not pulling its punches as it takes on the anti-gay morons in America.

It’s gay. It’s camp. It’s Gay Camp.

Gay Camp will perform at HERE Mainstage Theater, 145 Sixth Avenue, NYC.

Gay Camp runs 75 minutes and will perform the following performance schedule:

SAT 8/11 @ 7:00-8:15pm
TUE 8/14 @ 9:15-10:30pm
FRI 8/17 @ 2:00-3:15pm
SAT 8/18 @ 10:00-11:15pm
WED 8/22 @ 9:45-11:00pm

Tickets will be on sale starting July 20 at

For more information on Gay Camp, visit our website at

Gay Camp
Written by: Philip Mutz and Susan-Kate Heaney
Directed by: Phillip Fazio

AUGUST 10th-26th, 2012

Tickets $15 in Advance, $18 at Door

Tickets on sale at or at

Artist Bios

Phillip Fazio – Director

Phillip Fazio graduated from The Boston Conservatory with a BFA in Musical Theatre and Directing. Immediately upon graduating, Phillip began a three-year contract as an Artist in Residence at Phoenix Theatre. Now in it’s 92nd Season, Phoenix Theatre is the oldest arts organization in the state of Arizona. Regional Directing credits include Proof, Rent, Ragtime, Grey Gardens, Hidden in this Picture, West Side Story, Macbeth, The Last Five Years, Rocket Man, Cabaret, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, and Almost Maine. Assistant Director credits include the Center Theatre Group/Deaf West revival of Pippin (Directed by Tony Award Nominee Jeff Calhoun) at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and the New England Premiere of Take Me Out at Speakeasy Stage Company in Boston. New York City directing credits include Ben and Leslie Save the World and SuperBen for The Think Theater Project and The Real Life with The Identity Theatre Company. Phillip is a member of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab and Actors’ Equity Association.

Susan-Kate Heaney – Co-Author

Susan-Kate Heaney is an actor and writer currently based out of Los Angeles. She is a graduate of New York University with a BFA in Drama. Most recently, she has been performing her comedic solo show Mop-oholic in New York and Los Angeles, at UCB, the Pit, iO West and Second City. Susan-Kate is a co-creator and lead actor in comedic web series The Reality Whores. She has performed in theaters all around New York including Bank Street and Rattlestick. Recent work includes the role of Jessica in Mercy (NBC) and the abused nanny in We Need to Talk About Kevin. One of her latest projects is a writer and lead actor for the web-series One-UPs, which can be found on Funny or Die. She works regularly in voice-overs.

Christian Mansfield - Actor

Mansfield was most recently seen in this summer’s Broadway Bares benefit in NYC. His previous Fringe endeavors include The Penguin Tango at both Actors Playhouse and Theater Row, and Odysseus DOAwhere his cast was awarded “Best Ensemble”. Other NYC credits: That Other Woman's Child (NYMF) and Christmas Rappings. Some regional favorites include 42nd Street (nat'l tour), Cabaret (Barter), and Romeo and Juliet (South Florida Shakes.) Christian is a Long Island native with a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Miami.

Ken Urso - Actor

Urso has served as director, actor, producer, guest artist, and dramaturg throughout the U.S. His acting credits include Twelfth Night (Manhattan Rep), Lieutenant of Inishmore (Strollers Theatre), The Shape of Things (Actor's Repertory Theatre), and Art (Actors Studio Drama School). For two seasons, Ken was an Artistic Associate at Actor's Repertory Theatre in Washington. Ken holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and an MFA in Directing from the Actors Studio Drama School.

Philip Mutz – Co-Author and Actor

Mutz is a writer and actor in New York City. Recent acting credits include Comedy of Errors, Henry V, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Cymbeline (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ), Kidnapping Laura Linney (Midtown International Theatre Festival), Gay Camp (Peoples’ Improv Theatre), King John (NY Shakespeare Exchange), and Romeo and Juliet (Columbia Stages). His writing credits include The Real Life (Identity Theater Co), Gay Camp (the PIT), Kidnapping Laura Linney (MITF), and SuperBen (Think Theater Project). He is currently head writer for the web series The Reality Whores (webisodes can be viewed at His recent viral video Sh*t Gay Guys Say to Straight Guys has nearly one million views on YouTube. Philip holds a B.F.A. in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has trained in sketch writing and improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Friday, July 6, 2012



This Sunday, July 8, 2012, at 7:00 PM

One night only!

Featuring the amazing:
Eric Michael Gillett
La Tanya Hall
Marieann Meringolo
Carolyn Montgomery-Forant
 Julie Reyburn
Arbender Robinson
Nina Siegel
Niki & Viki Sorrentino
Cookie Stark
KT Sullivan
Special Surprise Guests!

Produced and Musical Directed by Jeff Cubeta
Direction by Eric Michael Gillett
Hosted by Carolyn Montgomery-Forant

Ali Forney Center provides housing and social services for homeless LGBT youth. It is the only housing organization in the nation that identifies itself as a "safe space" for these young people. Five weeks ago, the mayor presented a budget that would eliminate 160 of Ali Forney Center's 250 beds. (And there are over 3000 homeless youth identifying as LGBT in New York City alone.)

Please join us as we support this incredible organization.

A Cabaret Benefit for Ali Forney Center
Sunday, July 8, 2012, at 7:00 PM
Doors open at 6:00 PM

Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd Street, 10036
$20 Music Charge (Proceeds benefit Ali Forney Center, a non-profit organization)
$15 Food/Drink Minimum
Reservations: 212-695-6909 (after 12:00 PM)

If you would like to attend but are unable, perhaps you might consider making a donation to Ali Forney Center. Please feel free to click here for more information.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tonight - Benefit performance of Doric Wilson's "Street Theater"

Thursday, June 28 2012 : 7:30pm – 9:00pm

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Doors Open 7PM, Performance 7:30PM

Center Performance presents Street Theater by Doric Wilson

In loving memory of our friend, mentor and guiding light Mr. Doric Wilson, the Center is presenting a special benefit performance of Street Theater, Doric's award winning satire about Stonewall.

Buy Tickets Here!

A participant in the Stonewall Uprising, Doric Wilson wrote Street Theater not so much as a history of the event but as a record of the people he knew and the incidents he was involved in on Christopher Street in the months, days and hours leading up to the night gays fought back. The play focuses on a panorama of drags, dykes, leathermen, flower children, vice cops and cruisers— the innocent and not-so-innocent bystanders who would turn June 28, 1969 into Stonewall—the D-day of gay history.

About Doric Wilson
Frequently called the “father of modern queer theatre,” Doric Wilson’s 50 year dedication to queer culture has been recognized with the first Robert Chesley Award for Lifetime Achievement in Gay Theatre; the 2007 IT Award for Artistic Achievement; in 2009, the ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) Career Achievement Award for Professional Theatre; and last year the Fresh Fruit Festival presented playwright Doric Wilson with the 2010 PassionFruit Award for Enduring and Continuing Pioneer Work in LGBT Theater.

In 1974, playwright and gay activist Doric Wilson founded the first professional gay theatre company. It was called The Other Side of Silence (TOSOS for short). In 2002, directors Mark Finley and Barry Childs and Wilson resurrected the company, rededicating it to an honest and open exploration of the life experience and cultural sensibility of the GLBT community and to preserving and promoting our theatrical past in a determined effort to keep an important literary heritage alive. TOSOS has presented a number of critically acclaimed plays by playwrights David Bell, Meryl Cohn, Linda Eisenstein, Mark Finley, Robert Patrick, Chris Weikel, The Five Lesbian Brothers, Lanford Wilson and Charles Busch. TOSOS also runs the highly successful Chesley/Chambers play reading series under the directorship of Kathleen Warnock. The program is a recipient of grants from The Dramatists Guild Fund. For more information about TOSOS visit

Tickets to benefit TOSOS and the LGBT Center:
$20 online; $25 at the door

Cash bar reception with the cast, director, and veterans of Stonewall and the early days of the movement.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Broadway Bares XXII "Happy Endings" Tonight




A storybook night of your favorite fairy tales is on tap as more than 200 of New York's sexiest dancers bring BROADWAY BARES XXII: HAPPY ENDINGS to life for two performances (9:30 PM and midnight) this Sunday, June 17. BROADWAY BARES XXII: HAPPY ENDINGS, which is produced by and benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, will be held at Roseland Ballroom (239 West 52nd Street, NYC).

This year's BARES will feature a special appearance by Tony Award-winner Judith Light, who this month won the Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Play for her role in Other Desert Cities.  Kyle Dean Massey (Next to Normal) will appear throughout the show as the lead character looking for his fairytale happy ending. Miriam Shor (TV's “GCB”) will sing an original opening number, “Happy Endings,” written by Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar. Rachel Potter (Evita) will perform the finale, “Happily Ever After.” Other special guests include Academy Award nominee Jennifer Tilly (Don't Dress for Dinner) and legendary New York drag queen Lady Bunny.

Tickets to both performances are sold out. A limited number of tickets may be available between 3 PM and 7 PM only on Sunday, June 17 in the lobby of Roseland Ballroom. Ticket availability will be based on cancellations and returns. Tickets will be first-come, first-served. Cash or credit cards will be accepted.

Lee Wilkins (Elf, Spamalot) direct this year's 22nd edition of BROADWAY BARES, where New York's sexiest and most delectable dancers will take you to a land where rubbing a magic lamp reveals more than just a genie.

BROADWAY BARES was created by Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell, who also serves as executive producer, and is produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, led by Producing Director Michael Graziano.

BROADWAY BARES combines the naughtiness of burlesque with the razzle-dazzle of Broadway and has been a smashing success since its inception in 1992. The event, featuring the hottest male and female dancers on Broadway, has become one of BC/EFA’s signature events. The first BROADWAY BARES featured just seven dancers performing choreographed stripteases on a bar and raised more than $8,000. Through 21 editions, BROADWAY BARES has raised more than $8.6 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The presenting sponsor of BROADWAY BARES XXII: HAPPY ENDINGS is M·A·C VIVA GLAM and the event is generously sponsored by United Airlines.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $195 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

Broadway Cares awards annual grants to more than 400 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide and is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic.

For more information, please visit Broadway Cares online at, like us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at

Monday, April 16, 2012

“On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” (On a Clear Gay…)

Review by Nic Dris

Photos by Paul Kolnik/Nicole Rivelli

You have to understand first and foremost that this is a musical comedy. The odds are the score will be a blast, the performances will be comedic, and yes, sometimes things may be far fetched and come out of left field --- but that’s part of the wit and charm of the musical comedy, right? You understand it? Good. Let’s move on.

What can be described as a magical modern day fairy tale (Burton Lane, you do have a knack for the genre), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever brings us to New York City 1974. Flower power. Rebellious. Sexual and yes, there’s a bit of Freud in there too. David Gamble (David Turner) is in a committed relationship with his starry-eyed lawyer Warren Smith (Drew Gehling) and Warren has just asked David to move in with him -- the ultimate commitment for a gay couple in 1974. There’s one snag though! David can’t quit smoking and Warren thinks he’s quit already. That could pose as a problem when a man asks you to move in with him. Enter the widower Dr. Mark Bruckner (Harry Connick Jr.) who tries to hypnotize David out of his smoking habit, but ends up conjuring David’s past life/self Melinda Wells (Jessie Mueller) instead. No harm though. It’s not a foreign concept for a gay man to act like a woman, except that Dr. Mark begins to fall for Melinda and cure his lonely heart more so than David’s smoking habit.

Director Michael Mayer has reconceived this production from its original storyline where our character David Gamble was once played off as the lead female character Daisy. Mayer tries to bring a more modern approach to the story by spinning the core storyline on a 1970s gay man’s quirky life instead. Michael Mayer does this so successfully. Honestly, I can’t imagine this musical being as charmingly wonderful. Not to mention, how the stakes have risen for the character of Dr. Mark Bruckner in this incarnation. Think about it. A 1970s heterosexual widowed doctor falling for a gorgeous 1940s jazz singer, inside a gay man’s body. That’s theatrical conflict if you’ve ever witnessed it.

David Turner plays a coy and sweet David Gamble who you can’t help but fall for. His sweet, bouncy personality echoes well later on when we meet his past life/1940s jazz sensation, Melinda Wells. Jessie Mueller is a fresh breath of air to musical theater. Her breakout performance can only be described as a revelation. Her versatility with Burton Lane’s score soars from jazz up tempo numbers to gorgeous torch songs. Mueller’s vocal versatility, charming demeanor, and undeniable stage presence will no doubt advance her career beyond this production. Much like his past life’s energy, David Turner brings it to a new level with the famous 11 o’clock number, “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” This character, who comes off a bit insecure for most of the show, finally finds the guts and the glory to take charge of his life and MAKE a decision in this metamorphosis of a song. Filling the stage with this energy, this power, this roar of a voice, David Turner showed you that his character, Gamble, still might have whatever he had before.

Other notables include one of Broadway’s sweethearts, the gentle and considerate Kerry O’Malley playing Dr. Sharone Stein. Stein needs a prescription for her lovesick heart for Dr. Mark Brucker, but that didn’t come off so well. In all of Michael Mayer’s intelligent decisions to re-envision this piece with book writer Peter Parnell, I wish they had written more material for Ms. O’Malley. There was a powerfully intrinsic quartet towards the end of the second act, “S(He) Wasn’t You,” where our four lovers sing about wanting one another. I believed it between every combination except for Dr. Mark and Dr. Sharone. Perhaps if Mayer had included a sweet, positive musical number such as Warren Smith’s love song, “Love With All the Trimmings” to his beloved David, O’Malley’s character would have worked more positively.

So there were parts that made no sense and came out of left field. I’ll admit it. When David Gamble’s boyfriend, Warren Smith, jumps into an infectiously joyous number “Wait Till We’re Sixty-Five”, joined by an ensemble of jubilant college kids? Yes. I was a little lost. The thing about Burton Lane’s score though is that no matter how left field it is (Finian’s Rainbow, anyone?), you can’t help but grin and enjoy it. It’s the magic of his music. You can hum the tunes. You remember the tunes and at times, you want to join in on the tunes. Lane is magical like that.

Burton Lane’s whimsical score and Alan Jay Lerner’s poignant lyrics transpired into this fairy of a production, which was brought even more real by its production team.

Though Christine Jones’ set was a little over the top at times, her period styling’s lent itself to the musical comedy aspect well and brought a quirky feel to the set. Zuber’s costumes found solid colorings to complement and contrast characters and their environment well. Kevin Adams, as always, creates an extraordinarily whimsical environment with the lighting he befalls onto his actors. The collaboration between these three brings an extreme version of the 1970s, but this is an extreme story so the mood is called for.

I know. You’ve noticed that I haven’t mentioned much about the elephant in the room, Harry Connick Jr. With good reason. Granted the character Dr. Mark Bruckner is meant to be the straight man of the piece (literally, with this incarnation!), Connick left me feeling a bit underwhelmed by what he had to offer. Harry Connick Jr. does a very good job playing himself. We all love Harry Connick Jr. He brings a lot of nice qualities of himself to whatever character he plays. However, in a production where sets, lighting, characters, and plots are brought to extremes, Connick’s mellow, laid back persona stood out. Choreographer JoAnn Hunter did a great job at involving Harry Connick Jr.’s in picturesque movements, such as the closing of Act I “Melinda,” where Dr. Mark was dancing with David, then Melinda, then both until it ended on high note between Mark and Melinda (or was it David?) Hunter brought a very “Brady Bunch” psychedelic to the productions big hits “Wait Till We’ve Sixty-Five” and “When I’m Being Born Again” and with Lane’s score, you couldn’t help but grin.

Was this production perfect? No. Did it deserve the bad word of mouth it got? Definitely not. This production deserved a much longer run and the reason behind the bad word of mouth is anyone’s guess. One thing is for certain though. The fruits of labor from everyone involved in this piece was evident in the story that I saw get told. You saw passion, dedication, and effort in every single cast member and to me, that’s really one of the true tricks to a well done musical comedy. Investment. If you ever find yourself hypnotized and you regress into your past self, do yourself and favor and try to transport yourself to 2011 New York City so you can relive this truly remarkable revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

Featuring Harry Connick Jr. (Dr. Mark Bruckner), David Turner (David Gamble), Jessie Mueller (Melinda Wells), Kerry O’Malley (Dr. Sharone Stein), Drew Gehling (Warren Smith), Sarah Stiles (Muriel Bunson), Paul O’Brien (Anton, Dr. Leo Kravis, Maurice, Mr. Van Deusen, Gene Miller, Wesley Porter), Heather Ayers (Leora Kahn, Club Vedado Singer, Betsy Rappaport, Cynthia Roland, Radio Singer), Lori Wilner (Vera, Mrs. Hatch, Mrs. Lloyd, Radio Singer), Benjamin Eakeley (Preston, Announcer, Radio Singer, Stage Manager, Ensemble), Alex Ellis (Hannah, Ensemble), Kendal Hartse (Ensemble), Grasan Kingsberry (Ensemble), Tyler Maynard (Roger, Sawyer, Radio Singer, Ensemble), Zachary Prince (Alan, Wesley Porter, Ensemble), Alysha Umphress (Paula, Ensemble), Sean Allan Krill (Standby), Philip Hoffman (Standby), Julie Reiber (Standby), Patrick O’Neill (Swing), Christianne Tisdale (Swing)

Original Book: Alan Jay Lerner
New Book: Peter Parnell
Music: Burton Lane
Lyrics: Alan Jay Lerner
Director/Re-Conceiver: Michael Mayer
Choreographer: JoAnn M. Hunter
Set Design: Christine Jones
Lighting Design: Kevin Adams
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski
Orchestrations: Doug Besterman
Casting: Jim Carnahan
Stage Manager: Rachel Wolff
Production Stage Manager: Lisa Iacucci
General Management: Charlotte Wilcox Company
Press Representation: The Hartmann Group

St. James Theatre
246 W. 44th St.
New York, NY

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Closed January 29, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Interview with Miriam Kulick of "Open Hearts"

By Byrne Harrison

Miriam Kulick, an actor, playwright, director and teacher, first performed "Open Hearts" at the 2011 Washington D.C. Fringe Festival where it was named Pick of The Fringe by DC Theatre Scene. Prior to that she co-founded Miami’s Square Peg Productions whose first production, "Three Angels Dancing on A Needle" received the 2007 New Times Best of Miami award for Best Ensemble Production and for which she was named Best Actress. "Three Angels" was also performed in New York at the Brick Theater. Her solo show "Full Circle" was performed at Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Octoberfest. She has appeared in numerous productions in both Florida and New York City, where she hails from. On television she’s been featured in America’s Most Wanted and in the Doris Wishman Documentary on HBO. She’s a member of Actor’s Equity, SAG and AFTRA.  She can be found at

The main character in "Open Hearts," your one-woman show opening on April 19th, is 90-year-old Sadie Nussbaum. She sounds like she's a lot of fun to play. How did you create her?

She is an inspiration from a still living 95-year-old woman who lives in NY and has been a life-long friend of my family. It is not directly based on her life, but snippets and attitudes about getting older and having a feisty spirit do come from her. Also, years ago I was a licensed massage therapist and I use to give massages to a pair of 90 year old twin sisters who lived together after their husbands died and actually threw a small ball back and forth to each other to try and keep limber as well as limbering their minds. I use a ball in my show.

Sadie's daughter Deborah is a lesbian involved with a woman who is still coming to terms with her lesbianism. Deborah also sounds like a bit of an activist (she's planning to go to Darfur to help the refugees). Which is harder for Sadie to deal with, having a lesbian daughter or having a daughter that's planning to head to a war zone?

For Sadie, I think it's both- if she had to choose, I would say Darfur- there is the potential of real danger there and the possibility of not coming home alive, and mainly being far away from home when one gets old, who knows when their last day might be or they might fall down and break a hip?

What else can people expect from "Open Hearts"?

To realize that no matter who you are, your age, temperment, or sexual orientation, we all struggle with striving towards that proverbial happiness, in wanting more authentic and fulfilling lives and having the courage to go after where our heart really lies.

I felt like a complete slacker after reading your biography. Actor, dancer, writer, teacher, world-traveler, wife, mom, commuter (between NYC and Miami), and that is probably just the tip of the iceberg. But what caught my eye was your work with Pridelines Youth Services in Miami. How did that come about?

First off, thank you for acknowledging all that I have done. As a person working on feeling OK about not falling into the habitual zone, of "nah, I've really not amounted to too much of anything", I will, as the new me, say, "geez thanks." Pridelines Youth came about from a good friend of mine who ran a gay-lesbian themed based theatre company in Miami. They received a grant to work with at-risk youth that had to deal with, "Coming Out - Staying In" stories. We had an 8 week workshop which culminated in an informal presentation of their work, mainly writing and putting it together in a theatre production format. I was a former teacher of his and he knew my teaching style and thought I would be great for this type of project.

The stories the kids shared dealt with the coming out process, an emotionally fraught topic. What was it like working with them?

At first when I started out I worked just with the girls, and then they had me work with the boys as well and we became one group. When we began many were wary of trusting me, a middle-aged white married straight woman, who on the surface to them, seemed not to be able to connect or understand them, as well as the general fear of opening up about their own lives, to just even talk, some just sat there. There were a few, as in any type of teaching situation, who were so excited to begin and explore. Some dropped out, but most stayed, and when we actually performed it they were all so into it and felt so good about themselves, that people actually came to see them, to hear what they had to say, to hear their own personal stories and be touched by what they shared. It was truly confidence building for them and many audience members in the older gay community were moved to tears, as they shared that they never had the opportunity for self-expression, to be heard, when they were their age.

Do you have any plans to do similar workshops in the future?

I am always up for it, I love the idea of theme-based workshops, be it within the gay community as what I did or my latest idea is working with anyone 45 or older, actually any age, and calling it the 3 L's: love, loss, and longing- I incorporate writing, acting, drawing, music.

What else will you be working on this year?

My primary focus is on touring this show in the college circuit and other theatre venues that will produce me. I plan to move back to NY and work as an actor in other areas, to get an agent or manager to represent me and to teach acting.

And one completely random question. If you could do a two-person show with any actor, living or dead, who would you perform with, and what would the show be about?

Oh, I'd have to think long and hard on that one - Meryl Streep, if she would have me, but everyone would just focus on her, or Jon Hamm because who wouldn't want to work next to him? Why not the 3 L's: love, loss, and longing.
Open Hearts begins at the Studio Theatre at Theatre Row (412 W. 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues) on Thursday, April 19th. Performances are Thursday, April 19th, Friday April 20th, Friday, April 27th and Saturday April 28th at 7:30PM. For tickets go to or call (212) 239-6200. For more information go to

Monday, March 26, 2012

Playwright Duncan Pflaster On Kickstarter Campaigns and the Taint (but not the one you think)

Duncan Pflaster has won awards for his plays The Empress of Sex, Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants, The Thyme of the Season, The Starship Astrov, Sweeter Dreams, Eternity: Time Without End, and The Tragedy of Dandelion. Other plays include The Wastes of Time, Suckers, Admit Impediments, Sleeping in Tomorrow, and Ore, or Or, as well as a panoply of one-acts. Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants, The Thyme of the Season, The Starship Astrov are published online at Indie Theater Now. He also writes sketch comedy with the video troupe Laughing Swingset, whose work can be seen on YouTube and Funny or Die. He is also an award-winning actor (2009 MITF Award, Outstanding Supporting Actor, I Hate Love) and theatre reviewer (2nd Place in Stage and Cinema's 2010 Theater Review Contest). Website

We sat down with Duncan to discuss his latest project, "The Taint of Equality."

Tell me about "The Taint of Equality."  And is it okay that I giggle a little when I say taint?

By all means, I encourage the giggling.  In the play, Adrian and Javier are a gay couple who don't believe in marriage - but everyone keeps assuming they are or should be married. When they realize it might be because they've never actually opened up their "open relationship," they decide to each go out and get laid, with hilariously erotic results.
What inspired "Taint"?

It's loosely inspired by a turn-of-the-previous-century ten-minute play called "Another Way Out", by Lawrence Langner.  It's about a terribly modern heterosexual couple living together without being married. It's amusing, though wildly outdated. I took the basic idea, changed it to a same-sex couple to reflect current marriage politics, then added more characters (13!) and some more farcical complications to wind it out to a full-length play. Most plays take me a year or so to write; once I had the idea for it, this one took me two months.
You're currently running a Kickstarter campaign to get it funded.  When and where will the production be?

The show will be in the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, an annual June event that I've participated in the last 3 years (winning a few awards for some of my previous shows).  This year my play will be in the downstairs theater at the newly renovated 45 Bleeker space.
I know that producing a play can be expensive.  You have to pay for rehearsal space, costumes, actors, techies, fluffers, PR people... the list goes on and on.  How much are you trying to raise?

$5,000. It helps so much to have a budget.  We're going to have 13 actors, and I want them all to get a little something. It's nice to do your art for just the love of it, but even nicer to get paid for it.
I noticed that one of the rewards for backing "The Taint of Equality" at $100 or more is a picture of the all-male cast.  Any chance it's a picture of the cast wearing their costumes from the sex club scene?

Well, since those costumes are nothing but naked with flashlights on lanyards around their necks, I think the photo might come out a little dark.  But I do plan to have something that's worth the while of those who pledge.
You're one of those playwrights who always seems to have several projects going at once.  What else is coming up for you in 2012?

Also in Planet Connections in June, G-Money Productions will be producing the premiere of my epic The Empress of Sex, which is an erotic romantic comedy set in Ancient Greece.  That's going to be another big cast- 25 people (also with lots of nudity), and though there are gay characters, the main story is about a heterosexual love affair where the woman, after catching her boyfriend cheating, goes to an island and devotes herself purely to sex without love, gathering a group of other folks who all have constant orgies till her ex-lover comes to the island in disguise to try to win her back.

Before that, my lesbian superhero one-act Dark Night of the Russet Rascal will be part of All Out Arts' One-Act Competition:  Sunday April 15th, 2012, 7:00PM,  $10, Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

To find out more about Duncan's play, "The Taint of Equality," and to become a backer, click here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Occupy the Empty Space: A 10-Minute Play Festival on Occupy Wall Street Themes

By Byrne Harrison

After a night (or possibly a day and night) of green beer-fueled excess, do your conscience some good and attend the Occupy the Empty Space 10-minute play festival tomorrow at Judson Memorial Baptist Church.

This has been a passion project for the occupiers and artists facilitating, along with 250+ writers and 100 actors and directors who expressed interest in the project. They have playwrights and performers of various stages in their career--participants include Naomi Wallace, Ismail Khalil, Ali Rose Dachis, Dan Kinch, and Caridad Svich.

In between these short plays, they will intersperse teach-ins by many well known organizations and activists in NYC, such as Picture the Homeless, Frank Morales of o4o, Queer Rising, Time's Up! and others.

The event is this Sunday, March 18th, from 2:30-7:30 @ Judson Memorial Church's meeting hall, and like most things Occupy-related is completely free.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Matt Doyle Talks About "Private Romeo" - R&J set in an all-male military academy

By Rob Hartmann
Cross-posted from

Matt Doyle, most recently seen on a New York stage in War Horse at Lincoln Center, stars in the film Private Romeo, writer/director Alan Brown’s retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story set in an all-male military academy.

ROB HARTMANN: So how did you get involved with the project originally?

MATT DOYLE: My agent sent me the script and asked, “Is this something you’d be interested in? It’s a little out there.” And I read the script and I said, are you kidding? Absolutely. I love Romeo and Juliet so much – I trained in classical theater, and I studied all of Shakespeare’s works.

RH: You trained in London, yes?

MD: I trained in London for a year, in a classical theater course at LAMDA [the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.] It was wonderful – I really got to know the classics and Shakespeare. There’s a reason that people love Romeo and Juliet as much as they do, and why it’s probably his most famous work. It’s exceptional. It’s so, so beautiful, and I love the way that it approaches that young, foolish teenage energy – the immediacy and destructiveness of a teenager. How a teenager thinks and works. So I’ve always really loved the piece, and the fact that it was done in a military academy – it was very interesting for me. So I went in for it, and it went great. I had several callbacks for it and ended up getting cast as Glenn, the “Juliet” part. I was thrilled. Juliet’s text is pretty remarkable, so I was very excited. And – when else would I get to play that role?

RH: Exactly – when else would you get to play it? Juliet’s interesting – so often in the play, she’s at the mercy of everyone else: waiting for information, waiting to be told what she can do and when she can do it. It was interesting seeing a guy in that role – but seeing that the essence is still the same.

MD: I wanted to make sure, in translating Juliet to a male, you know, that this would not be a male playing a female this time, as so many Romeo and Juliet productions have done in the past. This was actually a male in the role now – I wanted to make sure that there was a quiet masculinity to the role. She is waiting a lot – it’s a feminine part. I tried to make it as masculine as possible while still honoring Juliet and still honoring her tendencies. But I wanted to make sure that he [Glenn] had his own bearings – that he wasn’t necessarily waiting on everyone else, but that he was probably a little more quiet and a little more reserved, and wanted to get a feel for what other people thought before he made certain moves.

RH: Once you were cast, was there a rehearsal process?

MD: We actually did have a rehearsal process for this, because it was so obviously complicated. We really needed to hear each other and really needed to listen to one another. We were about to play with this text to a degree that none of us had before. I think the reason it’s been met with either people embracing it, or people being confused by it, is because we really do flip the text on its head as much as we can. We had actually just a few days together where we sat around and read it with one another. Seth [Numrich, in the Romeo role] and I had some time where we really got to explore our relationship and get to know each other before we jumped into being completely in love with one another. [Laughs] What was so wonderful about that, though, was that the first time we sat down together, there was this chemistry in the group that was so spot-on. I think, walking away from the film and seeing it again – I just saw it recently – I’m amazed by the performances of my peers in that movie. Every time I see it. Everyone is so specific, and has created something really special with their role-slash-roles – everyone had to play a combination of several different characters.

RH: I thought that was interesting, with Benvolio combined with Lady Capulet [acted by Sean Hudock], and Mercutio combined with Capulet [Hale Appleman.]. Very intense work going on. How long was the filming?

MD: We only had a three week window at the academy that we were shooting at. We were shooting at a naval academy in the Bronx. With only three weeks we had to make sure that we got it all done, and worked with each other as well as we possibly could.

RH: That’s pretty quick.

MD: It’s very quick, especially for the material we were exploring together. What was so great was that the group was so excited to be there. Nobody had any fear going into it – nobody seemed to be overwhelmed by it. Everybody was just completely on board and jumped right into it. We all built these wonderful relationships with each other with little backstories. I built this thing with “Omar” [played by Chris Bresky], who is the Nurse character in the film. We talked about our friendship and who those characters were, and talked about their backstory. We came up with this wacky story about how we grew up in Delaware together on a cul-de-sac, and got way too deep with it. [Laughs] I remember the first time I saw the film when I realized, oh yeah, that’s not in the movie. I thought there were scenes about that. No. There’s nothing. That’s just something we made up. [Laughs.]

But the work that we were doing with each other, in terms of the chemistry among all the actors – I think it really shows.

And then Seth and I – obviously – had to let go of any fear or apprehension whatsoever and just jump right into it with one another. And actually the first scene that we shot together was the balcony scene. Which I think is perfect, because it shows that kind of discovery – I mean, obviously we’re acting, and I see the choices that we’re making with one another. But I also see the discovery of how we both work in that scene – we were really figuring each other out. We got to know each other, shooting that scene. To know how each person would respond to a touch and a kiss – just the simplest movements. It was really fascinating to do that scene first. That’s the thing about shooting a film – you’re not doing anything in order. Starting with the balcony scene brought a really great color to it.

And then the next scene that we shot was ‘the lark’, waking up in bed together. [Juliet says it is night, not morning: Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day: It was the nightingale, and not the lark that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.] And now we really have to be just completely comfortable with each other. Luckily we both were so open with one another and had no problem with each other. Going into that scene, we just laughed about it: all right, let’s just do this. And it was a hundred degrees in those rooms when we were shooting. There was no air conditioning, so we’re sweating all over each other, and in between takes we’re wiping each other down. There’s no way that we couldn’t have walked out of that without feeling completely comfortable with one another. In fact, when Seth and I started doing War Horse together, everyone noticed that we seemed [laughing] incredibly comfortable with one another. Just great pals, but you know, oddly comfortable with one another. And we’re like, oh, that’s just because we just spent four weeks essentially, you know, making out. We were actually cast in War Horse while we were working on Private Romeo. Quite a coincidence.

RH: Tell me more about your approach to the character.

MD: As a male playing a role that was originally written from a female perspective, I didn’t want him to seem weak, and I didn’t want him to seem scared. Alan [Brown], our director, was really careful about this as well. He didn’t want the film to be all about gay-bashing. He wanted there to be a sense that, no, even boys in military academies aren’t that hateful and aren’t that stupid. They’re not necessarily looking at this from the perspective of, “Oh, that’s gay and that’s weird.”

RH: I was curious to know, when you were shooting scenes using Shakespeare’s text, were you translating it for yourselves in some way – to what they were really saying to one another?

MD: That was a struggle, yes – here’s what Shakespeare’s lines are saying, but what are these boys saying? How do we flip it on its head so that it works in this situation? And sometimes it works brilliantly, and sometimes maybe not so much. I don’t know if we ever really, really figured out Paris [the nobleman to whom Juliet is betrothed] in a way that was concrete and clear - the idea of who Paris is, when Capulet – the character of Josh [Hale Appleman] – comes in to talk to me. And so what we decided is, okay, this isn’t going to work, we can’t make it literal. Some of the boys thought about, well, what if “Paris” is like a school, and he had to go to another school. And Alan, of course, was appalled. [Laughs] “No, absolutely not!” So the idea of “Paris” became just that Josh was coming in to tell me that it needs to stop. It’s gone too far. “Paris” was the idea of it ending. So in some instances like that, you could say, “Well that doesn’t work at all!” But to us it did. [Laughs] Not everything needs to be that literal. I think that’s what the film goes back and forth on. Sometimes when the text really works and it’s really clear, it can be completely magical. You just sit back and go, oh my gosh, I can’t believe that in this context it’s perfect. You know? And I never would have looked at the text that way and think that it would say something like that. And other times you’d say, well, that doesn’t work so much, but let’s push forward. And we sat down with one another and communicated to each other in our own language what we were trying to say, and then tied it back into the text – and accepted that we were doing something experimental. To make it literal is doing a disservice to the piece, and is defeating the purpose.

There’s a moment in watching the film where it starts to become dreamlike. We’re saying that all love is universal, and this text ties into a situation that you’d never think it would have tied into.

RH: I was curious about the scene in which the other cadets attack your character in the middle of the night – leaving you outside plastic-wrapped to a chair with your mouth covered in duct tape.

MD: I kept asking Alan, are they doing this to me because I kissed another boy? Because I’m gay? And he said, no, they’re hazing you, because you are the target of the night. Alan had seen a lot of disturbing YouTube videos of actual hazings, and wanted to tie that into the film somehow. If we were in this environment, and this situation had come up, then something of this nature would have happened, either in good sport or in poor sport. So it’s to capture the environment of the military academy. Alan based everything – wrapping me in the chair with cellophane – on videos that he’d seen.

RH: And you get to sing in the film. [During the credits, Matt sings a pop rendition of “You Made Me Love You” directly to the camera.]

MD: [Laughs] Yes, I do get to sing. Alan got in touch with me after I was cast and said, Oh, by the way, I want you to sing in my film. I know you can sing and I want you to sing. At the time, the ending was unfinished. Alan had decided that’s how he wanted to end it. I said, okay, but if it happens, it needs to be a conversation between the two of us. It needs to be extremely simple if you actually want to put it on film. It’s really hard to put a song on film. It was a lot of back and forth, and eventually he presented “You Made Me Love You” to me, I looked at the lyrics, and obviously it’s perfect lyrically. But I said, I’m not doing Judy [Laughs]. But luckily, I got to work with Bishop Allen [the Brooklyn based indie rock group whose songs are featured in the film.] They worked with me for a few hours in their apartment, and we listened to the Patsy Cline version, and then did our own contemporary spin on that. So that’s how that song came to be.

RH: And you’ve got some musical projects that you’re working on - ?

MD: Yes – I’m working on a followup EP to my first EP. I did an EP last year called Daylight and the followup will come out this year, called Sunset. And I just did the out of town run of Giant, which will be at the Public in the fall. [The musical by Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson, based on the 1952 Edna Ferber novel.]

RH: Back to Private Romeo – I see that you all got an acting award from OutFest. [Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film, awarded to the entire cast.]

MD: And we just got a Critic’s Pick from The New York Times. I love how controversial it is – I love that some people absolutely embrace it and fall into it and go into that dreamlike state and go along for the journey. And I love that some people are like [laughs] “No! I’m not doing this! I don’t get it!” I think that that’s a mark of something original. I love it.

RH: Especially now in film, so many things feel pre-digested and mapped out. There’s no ‘question mark’ left.

MD: I think Alan’s passion shows through. He wanted something very specific. He was so committed to his vision. I took a lot of film history – it reminds me of some of the films that came out in the Seventies that made people say, “Wait, what?” They were testing boundaries. That’s what this film was trying to do. And I love it.

PRIVATE ROMEO Written and directed by Alan Brown. With Seth Numrich, Matt Doyle, Hale Appleman, Chris Bresky, Sean Hudock, Adam Barrie, Bobby Moreno, and Charlie Barnett. Producer, Agathe David-Weill. Editor, Craig B. Weiseman. Director of Photography, Derek McKane. Casting Director, Stephanie Holbrook. Composer, Nicholas Wright.