Originally published on Advocate.com September 21 2011 7:35 AM ET
As Towleroad reported yesterday, the Broadway premiere of 8, Dustin Lance Black’s staged reading of the federal Proposition 8 case based on transcripts of the 2010 trial in California, drew an unexpected audience member on Monday evening: National Organization for Marriage chairman of the board Maggie Gallagher.
“I wanted to see the play and I didn't think it was likely to make it to Broadway again,” Gallagher told The Advocate via e-mail of her attendance at the fundraiser performance at New York's Eugene O’Neill Theater.
Gallagher, who was in the courtroom for closing arguments of the Prop 8 trial in June of 2010 but was not called to the witness stand, was portrayed in Black’s production by Tony-nominated actress Jayne Houdyshell in a cable news pundit segment where she sparred with Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson (played by Larry Kramer).
“Jayne is a fine actress but my presence at the trial was unexplained by the script,” Gallagher wrote. “I wasn't part of the trial, so it’s curious the playwright felt the need to write me in.”
Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, said that Gallagher did purchase a ticket for the performance, which raised a reported $1 million for the organization. “Maggie is now an AFER supporter. We appreciate her support of our efforts to ensure equal rights for all Americans,” he said.
“Like most Americans, I believe her views [on marriage equality] have evolved,” Griffin quipped.
Hours before the Monday premiere of 8, U.S. district court chief judge James Ware ruled that video recordings of the Prop 8 trial be made available to the public — an order that he has stayed through Sept. 30 (Prop. 8 proponents who defended the ballot measure are expected to appeal the ruling). Gallagher declined comment on the order. “You would have to direct those questions to the litigants in the case, Protect Marriage," she wrote.
According to one audience member, Gallagher attempted to go backstage following the performance but was stopped by Broadway Impact cofounder Gavin Creel, who "politely said she couldn’t go on stage."
Of Black’s staged reading, there were no rave reviews from Gallagher: “It’s pretty hard to turn a transcript of a trial into exciting theater,” she wrote. “It was pretty ideological. Perhaps not unexpectedly.”