Second Life

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com March 22 2010 5:35 PM ET

You've probably seen Jason Stuart's face all over television, films, and comedy clubs. As a working actor, Stuart has done just about everything, including starring in small indie films, working the background, and playing the comic relief.

In his latest project, a play titled Above the Line, the inner workings of a film are revealed in true comedic fashion. Stuart plays Jeremy, a Hollywood producer working on a film about the Boston Tea Party. He ends up falling for Christian (Stewart W. Calhoun), a young guy just trying to break out in the business. The comedy also includes a fiery fling between Lucy and John (Heather Marie Marsden and Nick Mennell, respectively), the machinations of a powerful studio exec (Denise Dowse), and surprise visits from "Mother" — she could probably be described as an omnipresent Elizabeth Taylor-like character, who appears only in voice and video.

Stuart, 51, says that if he had his choice of a famous diva mother in real life, it wouldn't be Liz. He'd pick Babs.

"When I was growing up, her being Jewish, being funny, talented was something so incredible," he says. "When I was a kid growing up there were no Jewish women who were like this ... I remember as a kid seeing the movie Funny Girl and going, 'Oh, my God, that’s me!"

Stuart also gives major props to the crew behind the scenes, including Ovation Award-winning playwright Susan Rubin, whom he calls "one of the funniest people I've ever met in my entire life."

Along with a cast he admires deeply, Stuart said his role has been rewarding to play.

"As a gay man over a certain age, you don’t really get a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things that are as creative as this," he says. "Typically, the role would be a supporting character, and he would come in and maybe have a quick line. I would never get to personalize it — fall in love, have a mother, or father, or friends. I’m usually playing characters that are just there to help attract more people and help them with their lives."

The play runs Thursdays through Saturdays through April 24 at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles.