As gay theatergoers sweat in anticipation of this fall’s Broadway premieres of David Hyde Pierce in La Bête, T.R. Knight in A Life in the Theatre, Cherry Jones in Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and freakin’ Patti LuPone in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, some queer off-Broadway offerings and a few inspired Broadway cast changes provide a cool respite from the summer blahs.
Out writer-performer Marc Wolf was well-decorated for his 1999 off-Broadway debut of Another American: Asking and Telling, a solo docudrama on the subject of "don't ask, don't tell" shaped from more than 150 interviews with military personnel and civilian experts, both gay and straight. After touring the country, Wolf has remounted the show at the DR2 Theatre, wisely keeping Joe Mantello’s frank original direction and boldly choosing not to update his tour de force — aside from a few extra gray hairs. Wolf thoughtfully represents both sides of the hot-button argument with heartbreaking accounts of prejudice balanced by quirky characters and soldierly sexcapades. A portion of the proceeds from this powerful revival, which runs Mondays through August 30, supports charitable organizations like the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
Secrets of the Trade won a GLAAD Award for Best New Play when it premiered in Los Angeles in 2008, so it’s no secret that this coming-of-age tale shouldn’t be missed at 59E59 Theaters, where it runs through September 4. Known for queer seriocomedies Twilight of the Golds and The Last Sunday in June, gay playwright Jonathan Tolins presents a poignant backstage peek at a 1980-1990 correspondence between a precocious theater queen, skillfully played by Brighton Beach Memoirs star Noah Robbins, and an irascible Broadway director, another juicy gay part for incomparable out actor John Glover. Though the play flirts with a sexual affair — a creepy back massage thankfully leads nowhere — it focuses on the complexities of mentorship while avoiding All About Eve cliché. Out actor Bill Brochtrup of NYPD Blue fame costars as the director’s droll, catty assistant.