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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


Standing On Ceremony
The Gay Marriage Plays

Also see John's review of Don't Rain on Our Parade

Standing on Ceremony

The Broward Center for the Performing Arts and City Theatre recently presented the South Florida premiere of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays in the Amaturo Theater of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The show was conceived by Brian Shnipper and began as a series of benefit events in Los Angeles before an Off-Broadway engagement last fall.

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays consists of nine, 10-minute plays by an impressive team of writers which includes Emmy Award winner Mo Gaffney, Heideman Award winner Jordan Harrison, Edgar Award winner Jeffrey Hatcher, Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony Award nominee Neil LaBute, Sundance Jury Prize winner Wendy MacLeod, Obie Award winner José Rivera, Obie and Outer Critics Circle Award winner Paul Rudnick, Tony Award nominee Moisés Kaufman and Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Doug Wright.

The evening's celebration of gay marriage—legal or otherwise—began with The Revision, in which same sex couple Nate (Bryan Batt) and Wallace (Stephen Trovillion) hammer out the political correctness of the vows of their impending marriage. The end result is a laughable but true representation of the state in which many gay couples find themselves in their attempt to make traditional vows match the legal rights to which they are entitled. This play showed Batt at his funniest.

Later in the show Batt was less successful with the beautifully written London Mosquitoes by Kaufman. In what should be a poignant eulogy, Batt showed plodding pacing and a fuzzy focus.

Beth Dimon was hilarious as the ultra-conservative homemaker in Rudnick's The Gay Agenda. As she defines her reasons for believing that there is indeed a "gay agenda," the character transforms from the saccharine sweet woman next door bringing baked pies to her new neighbors, to the nearly crazed and manic woman hearing voices in her head. Dimon's progression and pacing wee impeccable.

Elena Maria Garcia and Elizabeth Price were delightful in MacLeod's This Flight Tonight. They played a lesbian couple awaiting their flight departure from California to a small town in Iowa where they are to be wed. They showed great chemistry and comic timing as a couple battling out a severe case of pre-marital cold feet.

Bruce Vilanch and Batt were moving in LaBute's Strange Fruit in which a gay couple's joyful journey from Chicago to California to be legally wed ends in unexpected tragedy. Their overlapped patter had a natural feel, and the ending was understated enough that the memory of their joy remained through the choked, emotional last few lines delivered by Vilanch as Tom.

Many a gay man can identify with the character of Michael in My Husband in which a well-meaning if possessive mother on a quest for a mate for her son goes more than a bit too far. Christopher De Paola and Garcia were funny if a tad over the top as mother and son in this piece by Rudnick.

The entire cast joined in for two plays, On Facebook and Pablo & Andrew at the Altar of Words. The first is supposedly an actual lengthy and heated Facebook discussion about homosexuality and gay marriage, complete with trademark, thumbs-up "Likes." Though it is perhaps too deliberate, it is a great group piece. The last play seemed predictable in its writing. Though it is sweet and uplifting, because it is the last play of the evening, it needs to be stronger.

Standing On Ceremony may not be perfect, but it is undeniably great fun to watch the subject of same-sex marriage handled and acted so well.

The Broward Center production of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays included a post-show wedding reception complete with music and wedding cake. A portion of all proceeds of this production were donated to Equality Florida, continuing a practice established in the original production of contributing show proceeds to an organization that promotes the issue of marriage equality.

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays appeared at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts June 21 through June 24. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts houses the Au-Rene Theater, the Amaturo Theatre, and the Abdo New River Room, and has affiliated venues at the Parker Playhouse, the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center, and the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. For any of the offerings of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org.

Presentations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also contributed by the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium is a cultural partnership between the Performing Arts Center Authority, Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Florida Grand Opera., Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and The Historic Stranahan House Museum. It is supported by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau.

Cast
Bryan Batt
Bruce Vilanch
Christopher De Paola
Elizabeth Dimon
Elena Maria Garcia
Elizabeth Price
Stephen Trovillion

Crew
Director: John Manzelli
Set Design: Jodi Dellaventura
Lighting Design: Ron Burns
Sound Design: Matt Corey
Costume Design: Leslye Menshouse
Stage Manager: Brandy DeMil


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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