Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for December 2010
BY Brandon Voss
December 16 2010 5:00 PM ET
The Last Castrato, a new melodrama by Guy Fredrick Glass that ran through December 4 at the Connelly Theatre, was set in the Vatican during the early 1900s, a time when the castrati, once superstars, began to disappear due to the new pope’s ban on castration to preserve the soprano voices of prepubescent boys. Jacob Pinion starred as the famous Alessandro Moreschi, the only castrato to record his voice, and Doug Kreeger played Cesari, a cloying gay castrato — think Kurt on Glee — who threw himself at the sexually confused Moreschi and got banished, which led to a scenery-chewing suicide. Ironically, under the direction of John Henry Davis, The Last Castrato was a tonal disaster. But with a drag cast and minor script tweaks that embrace the humor, Glass could turn it into a campy period spoof to rival Charles Busch’s The Divine Sister.
LCT3’s gorgeous production of The Coward, an inspired new play by Nick Jones that ended December 4 at the Duke on 42nd Street, shot up an 18th-century period piece with SNL sensibility and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’s foulmouthed modern flair. Armed with a quivering falsetto, Jeremy Strong starred as Lucidus, a shy English nobleman whose father’s obsession with manliness led to the dueling deaths of his brothers. When forced to duel himself, Lucidus hired a barroom tough — who thinks he’s being paid for gay sex — to fight in his stead. Though naturalist director Sam Gold restrained the cast from comic greatness, Stephen Ellis and Steven Boyer shone as Lucidus’s foppish pie-tasting friends, while Kristen Schaal and Jarlath Conroy stole the show as his vacuous love interest and a manservant doubtful of Lucidus’s heterosexuality.