BY Brandon Voss
August 17 2010 1:45 PM ET
A success at last summer’s Fringe Festival, Tales From the Tunnel, a tribute to New York City’s subway system, has pulled into the Bleecker Street Theatre with a terrific cast led by Tony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Rent’s original Angel. Based on interviews with hundreds of subway riders and workers conducted by out writer-directors James Valletti and Troy Diana, this series of sketches and monologues feels like a small token of gratitude to anyone who’s braved the underground’s most unsavory sights and scents. Among the homeless kooks and sassy clerks, passengers include a PFLAG mom and a typical Chelsea boy who smacks a hot guy in the head with his erection. In one vignette we hear a group’s disparate reactions to watching two men kiss: disgust, titillation, and admiration — all emotions that the audience experiences during this 90-minute joyride.
A more accomplished cast featuring Temperamentals standout Arnie Burton has strengthened Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party since last summer’s Fringe Fest, but it still doesn’t live up to its terrific title. Straight playwright Aaron Loeb’s strained, grossly unedited political comedy, which runs through September 5 at the Acorn Theatre, covers the fallout when a lesbian teacher in Honest Abe's Illinois hometown is put on trial for telling her students that Lincoln had a male bedmate. In an order voted on by the audience, we see the same events unfold from the view of the prosecutor, the defense attorney, and a gay New York Times reporter. The cast cuts up in beards and top hats between acts, but the show’s only fête-worthy when it shuns slapstick and takes itself seriously, as when the prosecutor’s closeted gay son opens up to the flirty reporter in a cornfield.
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