Advocate's Queen on the NYC Theater Scene
BY Brandon Voss
June 14 2009 11:00 PM ET
So how about them Tonys, huh? If you skipped them or somehow missed host Neil Patrick Harris's tongue-in-cheek promotional tour, you probably still know that the 63rd annual Tony Awards honored the guys and dolls of the past Broadway season on Sunday, June 7. But when it came to the Great White Way, the only thing more dismal than the telecast's production values was the month of suspense leading up to the event. Nominations were announced on the morning of May 5, kicking off a torturous period when nothing new opens on Broadway -- essentially the theatrical equivalent of filmdom's post-Oscar eligibility cut-off culture drought. Many thrifty theatergoers wait patiently until the winners are chosen before dropping their hard-earned dough on a three-figure ticket, but by that point, avid show queens like me have already seen all the Main Stem marvels. In either case, it's the perfect time to explore New York's gayest off- and off-off-Broadway offerings. So explore I did, sifting through treacly clichés, sinful stereotypes, and gratuitous nudity, searching for a sparkly sequin in the smallest of venues.
With The Temperamentals , a drama about Harry Hay's 1950 founding of the Mattachine Society, out playwright Jon Marans schooled the silly children who thought gay activism began with the Stonewall riots. "Temperamental" was gay-code for "homosexual," and homos all over town buzzed over Ugly Betty 's Michael Urie as organization co-founder Rudi Gernreich, an Austrian designer who notoriously designed the first topless swimsuit. (Urie showed off a snug square-cut onstage.) While his accent was a little "Now is zee time on Sprockets vhen vee dance," I was so impressed with his performance that I tweeted @michaelurie after the sold-out opening night to tell him. He didn't tweet back. And why should he? It's not like I'm Bernadette Peters, who, unlike Betty stars Tony Plana and Ana Ortiz, had "reserved" seats for the occasion. The limited engagement, which ended May 18 at the Barrow Group Studio, was actually sold out every show, but the theater only had 40 seats, and tickets were just $18. It reopened June 10 for a four-week run in a larger space at the same location. Great, now I'll never hear from Mr. Urie.
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