Seat Filler: ’s Guide to Theater
BY Brandon Voss
June 07 2010 12:15 PM ET
Writer and star of Broadway’s Dirty Blonde, the 2000 cross-dressing toast to Mae West, Claudia Shear now celebrates Michelangelo’s David with Restoration at New York Theatre Workshop until June 13. Shear stars as Giulia, a stony Brooklyn art restorer hired to refresh the 17-foot statue — adoringly re-created by out designer Scott Pask — to prepare for its 500th anniversary. Proving cleanliness is next to godliness even if you can’t wash away history, this Florentine task basically lets Giulia eat, pray, and love. The day she does David’s penis is an awkward treat, as is the kiss she transfers from him to the lips of an elderly female admirer. Spit-polished by out director Christopher Ashley, this accessibly artsy comedy features Alan Mandell as Giulia’s ailing gay mentor and Jonathan Cake as a cocky security guard who threatens to upstage Dave’s beauty.
The playwright who explored lesbian longing and prostate probing in Broadway’s In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play), Sarah Ruhl also begat Passion Play, which ended its New York premiere June 5 at the Irondale Center, a converted Sunday school inside Brooklyn’s Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church. Set in Elizabethan England, Nazi Germany, and Reagan-era South Dakota, this three-and-a-half hour epic mystically blurred the lines between religion, politics, theater, and reality as it dramatized festivals where laypeople stage biblical stories. Playing Jesus in all three eras and worthy of worship in a slipping loincloth, Hale Appleman, who played gay in Streamers off-Broadway, had a forbidden romance with a soldier playing Pontius Pilate (Nurse Jackie’s Dominic Fumusa) in 1934. In 1575, “Mary Magdalene” dreamed of kissing women.
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