Before New York heats up with lengthier runs of higher-profile productions in the fall, the summer theater scene thrives with quick queer offerings off- and off-off-Broadway. Though a few substantial gay-friendly runs tickled me pink, June was once again peppered with special gay pride benefits like Broadway Bares and other cheeky LGBT celebrations. And as I always say, nothing makes me prouder to be a gay theatergoer than steamy one-night stands and very brief engagements.
A.R. Gurney created complex gay characters in lesser works like Far East, The Old Boy, and Big Bill, but the prolific playwright outdoes himself in The Grand Manner, which stars Kate Burton as “First Lady of the American Stage” Katharine Cornell; Brenda Wehle as her assistant-lover, Gertrude Macy; and Boyd Gaines as her gay director-husband, Guthrie McClintic. The play, which runs through August 1 at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, is inspired by Gurney’s backstage meeting with Cornell after a 1948 Broadway performance of Antony and Cleopatra, a brief encounter we see before Gurney, played by Yank!’s Bobby Steggart, imagines a more meaningful version in which Cornell declares herself a lesbian and her flirty husband “gay as a goose” — a frankness only fitting for a grand theatrical fantasy.
Ex-public relations guru Dan Klores spent the last decade making celebrated documentaries like Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story, the tale of a gay boxer. Now he’s trying on a playwright’s hat with the world premiere of Little Doc, a contrived little drama set in 1970s Brooklyn, which runs through July 18 at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre. Klores fails to find anything new or exciting in the stock story of four buddies who become low-rung drug dealers and users. Who stole money from the boss? How harsh will the consequences be? Why should we care? Hunky Adam Driver, who played a closeted bully in Slipping, stars as Ric, a golden boy gone astray. Tobias Segal plays Billy, a sweet gay kid who crushes on Ric, endures mild teasing for being a “cocksucker,” and spends most of the show crawling around on the floor in an incoherent stupor.