Seat Filler: What's Gay Off-Broadway

By Brandon Voss

Originally published on Advocate.com June 25 2014 4:09 PM ET

Fly by Night
As a dispirited sandwich maker torn between two sisters in 1965, out actor Adam Chanler-Berat (Next to Normal, Peter and the Starcatcher) is the guiding light of Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock's mystical pop-rock musical about finding happiness in New York City. Night doesn't fly by as it should, but it's comforting to get caught up in the constellation of cosmically intertwined characters, including a gender-swapping narrator played by Henry Stram.
Playwrights Horizons, through June 29.

Gertrude Stein Saints!
Michelle Sutherland helms Theater Plastique's exuberant pop opera, which sets hauntingly repetitive text by lesbian icon Gertrude Stein to an eclectic score composed by members of the infectiously energetic, immensely talented young ensemble, adorable in pastels. Even at its most aggressively nonsensical, this avant-garde reflection on America, complete with same-sex slow dancing, is a thrill to watch and hear. Stein once said, "If you enjoy it, you understand it." I guess I understood it a lot.
Abrons Arts Center, through June 28.

Much Ado About Nothing
Making his Shakespeare in the Park debut, out director Jack O'Brien (Hairspray, The Nance) lends both giddiness and gravitas to the Bard's romantic comedy, here sumptuously set in sun-dappled Sicily at the turn of the 20th century. Hamish Linklater and American Horror Story's Lily Rabe bring the heat as squabbling, wisecracking lovers-to-be Benedick and Beatrice, but seasoned and sprightly out actor John Glover brings the heart as Bea's uncle Leonato, governor of Messina.
Delacorte Theater, through July 6.

The Muscles in Our Toes
In Labyrinth Theater Company's unfussy staging of Stephen Belber's uneven but absurdly entertaining dark comedy, a group of inebriated cronies convene in the choir room at their 25-year high school reunion to plot the explosive extrication of a friend who they believe has been captured by radical Chadian terrorists. Matthew Maher is a standout as Phil, an endearingly annoying gay man who, just like his emboldened pals, is desperately searching for meaning in his humdrum life.
Bank Street Theater, through July 13.

When We Were Young and Unafraid
Hot off her triumph in The Glass Menagerie, out Tony winner Cherry Jones commands another stage in Sarah Treem's provocative if somewhat preachy #YesAllWomen drama as Agnes, the warm yet steely proprietor of a bed-and-breakfast that's also a shelter for abused women in 1972. Cherise Boothe shakes things up as Hannah, a militant lesbian who, after searching for a man-free commune that equates feminism with political lesbianism, tries to coax the celibate Agnes out of the closet.
New York City Center – Stage I, through August 10.

Read last month's theater picks here.

Contributor: 
Brandon Voss