Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for October 2010
BY Brandon Voss
October 19 2010 10:10 AM ET
Daniel Beaty’s Through the Night, which now calls the Union Square Theatre home, is an insightful, hopeful one-man exploration of the African-American male experience. Representing three generations of men who often break out into impassioned spoken-word poetry, Beaty’s characters include a recent high school grad, a diabetic preacher, the herbal tea–brewing 10-year-old son of a struggling Harlem health-store owner, and an intravenous-drug user who gave HIV to his pregnant girlfriend: “I’m not on the down low, but I’m lowdown,” he says. Beaty — who counted a memorable gay misfit among the characters in his slavery-themed solo triumph Emergence-SEE! — shows great humor and heart here as the preacher’s son, a music industry exec hiding the real reason he’s still unmarried at 40 — which doesn’t exactly go over well with his queeny boyfriend.
Yes, Anthony Rapp is still milking his edge-of-the-millennium claim to fame as an original cast member of Rent, but may all one-man shows be as warmly engaging as Rapp’s Without You. Based on his 2006 New York Times best-selling memoir of the same name, this solid, moving exploration of love and loss uses Rent highlights and fine original songs to look back at Rapp’s early Rent experience — including Jonathan Larson’s death — and the fatal illness of his mother, who ultimately makes peace with Rapp’s homosexuality. Sold-out and ballyhooed, Without You was a highlight of the seventh annual New York Musical Theatre Festival, which finished October 17 and featured other gay-themed tuners like Our Country, Pandora’s Box, My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, Nighttime Traffic, and Oklahomo: The Adventures of Dave and Gary.