Leslie Jordan, Carson Kressley, Alec Mapa, Beau Bridges, Bonnie Bedelia, and a host of other stars will participate in a livestreamed reading of Del Shores’s beloved play Sordid Lives to benefit theater companies around the nation at a time when they can’t stage live performances.
The reading will take place May 31 at 8 p.m. Eastern on YouTube and Facebook. There is also an online auction, beginning Monday at DelShoresFoundation.org, and all donations made to the foundation through June 4 will go to the theaters.
The proceeds will be divided equally among 23 nonprofit theaters that are associated partners of the Del Shores Foundation and support its mission to find and facilitate the development of new Southern queer artistic voices. They include Celebration Theatre in Los Angeles; Desert Rose Playhouse in Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Proud Mary Theatre Company in Spartanburg, S.C.; Richmond Triangle Players in Richmond, Va.; Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas; and many more.
Sordid Lives tells the story of a gay actor trying to come out to his quirky, dysfunctional Texas family amid the death and funeral of its matriarch. The comedy premiered in Los Angeles in 1996 and was adapted into a 2000 movie that attracted a loyal following and became the longest-running film ever in Palm Springs, Calif., where it played for 96 weeks. Shores wrote a prequel in the form of a TV show, Sordid Lives: The Series, and a sequel, A Very Sordid Wedding.
The benefit reading will star many of the actors associated with the franchise, including Jordan, Bedelia, Bridges, playwright Shores, Newell Alexander, Rosemary Alexander, Emerson Collins, Dale Dickey, David Cowgill, Beth Grant, Debby Holiday, Caroline Rhea, and Ann Walker. Shores also promises appearances by Kressley, Georgette Jones, Alec Mapa, Aleks Paunovic, and David Steen, a performance by Tony-winner Levi Kreis (Million Dollar Quartet), and a message from Olivia Newton-John. The event will be produced and hosted by Shores and Collins. All artists are donating their time.
“We’re hoping the audience for this livestream will raise a big ol’ pile of money,” says a statement on the foundation’s website from Shores, Collins, and the board of directors, adding, “We believe theatre is a vital part of community, and we want to be sure it’s there for these companies when they can return to putting on shows.”