Stuart Ross: Hollywood Marriage
BY Brandon Voss
May 08 2011 9:30 AM ET
With rotating celebrity ensembles reading gay-themed vignettes by acclaimed playwrights like Moisés Kaufmann, Paul Rudnick, and Doug Wright, Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays has become one of the most engaging efforts to raise funds and awareness for the marriage equality fight. After a limited run at Largo at the Coronet in Los Angeles earlier this year, producers Stuart Ross and Joan Stein have brought Standing on Ceremony back for a stint at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre, where a portion of all proceeds will support Vote for Equality, the Center’s political organization and research program. Scheduled for select Monday nights through June 27, the new incarnation opens May 9 with Peri Gilpin, Julie Hagerty, Rachael Harris, Peter Paige, John Rubinstein, and Jon Tenney. Mr. Ross, who’s currently grooming Old Jews Telling Jokes for off-Broadway, affirms his personal commitment to the matrimonial cause.
The Advocate: Standing on Ceremony was originally conceived and commissioned by Attic Theatre artistic director Brian Shnipper and presented as a one-night benefit in 2009 at North Hollywood’s El Portal Theatre. When did you join the project as a producer?
Stuart Ross: I saw that benefit in ’09, and afterward I told Brian and his producer, Allain Rochel, that I liked their sensibility and thought the show deserved to go to New York. They got excited, so I called up some theaters. New York Theatre Workshop agreed to produce another benefit last summer, which was great, because we were able to expand the show with more plays from some of their playwrights.
Why was it important for you to get involved?
I got married to my partner in the little window before the book snapped shut because of Prop. 8. We had been so happy, but then, of course, we got very upset. What I loved about Standing on Ceremony was that there was nothing else like it that I’d ever seen in the theater — nothing where a group of artists had come together to write plays about a political issue that actually affected me. The play did what it was supposed to do: It was like a little lightning bolt for me where I knew I had to get involved and do something. And then I thought, Wow, if it can do that for me, maybe it can do that for other people.
How has the show evolved since its premiere?
Even when I first saw it, I was already envisioning it with just music stands and six people playing all the different roles, so that it could be sustained as an ongoing thing. And now it’s a tight hour and 25 minutes with nine plays as opposed to 14. But we still have a little reception after the show, where people can eat wedding cake and talk about different organizations and different ways that they can volunteer and help put a face on the fight for marriage equality.