Season of gay issues onstage
by Richard Dodds
A world premiere will launch New Conservatory Theatre Center's 2013-14 season, and with a single exception, each of the 10 titles is heralded as one form of premiere or another. Artistic Director Ed Decker announced this week the plays that will make up NCTC's 19th Pride season, a wildly diverse collection that explores gay issues directly, obliquely, and musically.
The world premiere of SF playwright Brad Erickson's American Dream opens the season on Aug. 24 with a story of a recently divorced California man and a male Spanish teacher he meets in Mexico. The American must enlist some unlikely compatriots in his efforts to smuggle his beau across the border.
The provocatively-titled Band Fags! makes its West Coast debut on Sept. 21. Adapted by Frank Anthony Polito from his 2008 novel, this is a 1980s coming-of-age story of two teenage best friends and high school band-mates whose relationship is unhinged as they differ on how and when to embrace their sexuality.
It's back. Dirty Little Showtunes, Tom Orr's revue made up of saucy parody lyrics to popular Broadway songs, returns to NCTC for an encore following a 2010 run. The very first staging dates back to 1997, and the latest incarnation opens Sept. 21.
My Beautiful Laundrette makes its U.S. premiere on Nov. 16. Adapted by Andy Graham and Roger Parsley from the 1985 movie, it's the story of a young Pakistani in London who enlists a street punk to become his partner, and eventually lover, in turning a rundown launderette into a wash-and-dry palace. The play was first presented in the UK in 2002.
Photo: Carol Rosegg
Avenue Q, Broadway's grownup spin on Sesame Street, will have its first homegrown SF staging with the Dec. 14 opening. Populated with puppets and humans, it won the 2004 Tony Award for best musical.
Internalized homophobia, clandestine liaisons, betrayed friends, and a high-flying investor's financial meltdown are among the ingredients in the SF premiere of The Paris Letter, a 2004 play that opens at NCTC on Jan. 25. Playwright Jon Robin Baitz is the creator of TV's Brothers & Sisters and author of Broadway's Other Desert Cities .
Del Shores is best known as the author of the comedy Sordid Lives, but he heads into more serious territory with Yellow, having its SF premiere on March 1. Parents and their sons deal with complex issues as a gay teen develops a crush on an ailing high school football star in the 2010 play.
Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, opening March 29, is yet another SF premiere. Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Moises Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Paul Rudnick, and Doug Wright are among the writers who have contributed short pieces in support of same-sex marriage. Rotating casts of celebrities presented staged readings of the plays in New York and Los Angeles in 2011.
Philip Dawkins' The Homosexuals tells in a reverse chronology the story of a failed gay relationship between a younger man and his older, theatrically involved partner, who find that generational baggage is hard to shed. Chicago critics likened its 2011 debut to a modern-day Boys in the Band. The West Coast premiere opens May 24.
Photo: Carol Rosegg
NCTC will close out its season with the SF premiere of Devil Boys from Beyond on May 31. First staged in NY in 2009, Buddy Thomas and Kenneth Elliot's farce features an all-male cast playing the citizens of Lizard Lick, Fla., and the hunky aliens who crash-land their saucer in a frumpy housewife's backyard.
More information on these shows and when season tickets will go on sale is available at www.nctcsf.org.