Out Front Theatre Company plans to begin its fifth season in October with the musical Xanadu and close it the following May with Harvey Fierstein’s award-winning drama Torch Song.
The West Midtown company, which focuses exclusively on work that reflects the LGBTQIA+ experience, is led by producing artistic director Paul Conroy and performs in its own 149-seat theater.
Before the 2020–21 season arrives, however, Out Front Theatre plans to stage its Covid-19-delayed production of The Boys in the Band. When playwright Mart Crowley’s drama opened off-Broadway in 1968, it put gay characters and their stories front and center in a way that had rarely been seen before in mainstream theater. The piece features nine men at a birthday party in which alcohol flows and conversation grows brutally honest. Out Front Theatre will do the 2018 revised version that had a limited run on Broadway. It runs August 13–29. Tickets are $15, $20 and $25. Crowley, a Mississippi native, died March 7 in Manhattan at age 84.
Here’s a closer look at Out Front’s upcoming five-show season:
OCTOBER 22–NOVEMBER 7. The roller-skating musical, set firmly in 1980, follows the journey of a beautiful Greek muse who descends from the heavens to Venice Beach, California, to inspire a struggling artist. The result: the first roller disco. Love and not-so-heavenly complications follow. The show, based on the Olivia Newton-John movie, ran for 16 months on Broadway in the 2007–08 season. It was nominated for four Tony awards, including best musical. The book is by Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed, The Nance), the music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar.
Judy’s Scary Little Christmas
DECEMBER 3–19. This original musical spoofs TV variety shows of the 1950s, satirizing celebrities’ public images and private lives. The fictional story employs a metaphysical plot twist (a la The Twilight Zone) and a bit of Dickens-like spiritual redemption. Judy Garland is primed for her biggest comeback ever, as the dazzling star of her own TV special broadcast live on Christmas Eve in 1959. Her guests include Bing Crosby (making some holiday grog), Ethel Merman (plugging her Hawaii album), Liberace (with a handsome sailor in tow) and Joan Crawford. Unsurprisingly, things don’t proceed exactly as planned. The 2002 piece is the work of writers James Webber and David Church, and composer-lyricist Joe Patrick Ward. The show was nominated for best musical by L.A. Weekly and best world premiere of a musical by the Los Angeles Ovation awards.
The Pink Unicorn
JANUARY 21–FEBRUARY 1, 2021. Playwright Elise Forier Edie’s script is a comedy about gender identity and big hair. The story involves a Christian widow living in a conservative Texas town. Her life turns when her teenage daughter announces that she’s gender queer and starting a chapter of the Gay and Straight Alliance at her high school. The Pink Unicorn was originally produced in 2013 in Washington state and has been performed throughout the United States and Canada. Its run in New York at United Solo Theatre Festival earned Edie best storyteller honors. NYTheaternow called it “extraordinary,” “brilliantly wise” and “inspiring,” and said it “needs to be on Broadway, in the West End and touring the world.” Edie lives and works in Southern California.
This Bitter Earth
MARCH 4–20, 2021. Playwright Harrison David Rivers’ drama looks at issues of race, class and the bravery it takes to love out loud. The story: An introspective black playwright named Jesse finds his choices called into question when boyfriend Neil, a white #BlackLivesMatter activist, calls him out for being politically apathetic. The piece was first produced in 2017 at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre Center and has had subsequent stagings at About Face Theatre in Chicago; Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota; and at Theatre Alliance in Washington, D.C. Rivers lives and works in St. Paul.
MAY 6–22, 2021. All Arnold Beckoff wants in life is a husband, a child and a pair of bunny slippers that fit. Harvey Fierstein’s award-winning comic drama follows Beckoff, a torch-song-singing Jewish drag queen, on his odyssey to find happiness in 1970s–80s New York. A visit from his overbearing mother shows him what he needs most of all: respect. This telling is a trimmed-down two-act version of Fierstein’s four-act 1982 original known as Torch Song Trilogy. The Broadway original ran for almost three years, earning Tony awards for best play and for Fierstein’s work as Arnold. A 2017 off-Broadway run became a 2018–19 Broadway revival featuring Michael Urie (Ugly Betty, The Good Fight) as Arnold. It was Tony-nominated for best revival of a play. “This latest incarnation,” said The New York Times, “finds an irresistibly compelling gravity beneath the glibness.”
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