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HOUSES ON THE MOON PRESENTS "THE SANTA CLOSET" WRITTEN & PERFORMED BY JEFFREY SOLOMON - JOE BRANCATO DIRECTS - DECEMBER 3-22, 2019
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 09:05 am EDT 10/10/19

HOUSES ON THE MOON THEATER COMPANY
PRESENTS
“THE SANTA CLOSET”
AN UPDATED VERSION OF THE ACCLAIMED SOLO PLAY
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING OUT

WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY JEFFREY SOLOMON
DIRECTED BY JOE BRANCATO

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT DECEMBER 3 - 22, 2019
AT TEATRO CIRCULO (64 EAST 4TH STREET)

OPENING THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5 AT 7 PM

Houses on the Moon Theater Company (Emily Joy Weiner, Co-Founder & Artistic Director; Kevin Connor, Managing Director) proudly presents The Santa Closet, written and performed by Jeffrey Solomon and directed by Joe Brancato (Daniel’s Husband). The Santa Closet is an updated version of Mr. Solomon’s acclaimed solo play Santa Claus is Coming Out, which premiered Off-Broadway in 2009. On the 10th anniversary of that production, this new version reflects the advances and nuances in our understanding of LGBTQ lives and remains as timely 10 years later as when it first broke ground.

The Santa Closet will have its premiere at Teatro Círculo Theater (64 East 4th Street in the East Village, NYC), performing a limited engagement from Tuesday, December 3 – Sunday, December 22, 2019. The Press Opening is Thursday, December 5th at 7 pm.

In The Santa Closet, little Gary's gender atypical gift request, sent to the North Pole, is denied. A series of subsequent heart-felt letters from the child nudge Santa Claus out of the closet … right into the center of a heated culture war. Jeffrey Solomon, a theatrical documentarian in the mold of Anna Deveare Smith, lovingly sends up the form, purporting to have interviewed – and portraying – all the key players in the scandal known as “Santa-Gate.”

The Santa Closet was inspired by the debate about discussing LGBTQ issues with children. Originally titled Santa Claus is Coming Out, the solo play debuted Off-Broadway in 2009 at The Kirk on Theatre Row. The New York Times called the play "A delightful surprise. This isn't a clumsy parody, but a sensitive, imaginative tale that really is about a boy's realization that he is different. Mr. Solomon portrays an amazing range of characters, all of them beautifully." Out magazine and Broadway World called the play “brilliant” and "hilarious." The play had an acclaimed run the following year at The Diversionary in San Diego and has been performed seasonally in theaters across the country – such as The Celebration Theatre and Theatre Asylum & Lab in Los Angeles, and The Theatre Project in Baltimore – since.

This production of The Santa Closet is the premiere of an updated version of the play. Says Mr. Solomon, “There have been great advances in LGBTQ rights and increased visibility in the past decade, and this is now reflected in the play. However, in many ways, discussing queer issues with children in much of the country is taboo. And of course, as of yet, there are still no queer main characters on any show or movie for young children. The Santa Closet imagines what would happen if this conversation was forced upon us, by literally having it come down our chimneys.”

The creative team for The Santa Closet includes Claire DeLiso (scenic design), Christopher S. Chambers (lighting design), Yana Biryukova (projections design) and Obadiah Eaves (sound design/original music). The Production Stage Manager is Jamie Rose Bukowski.

The Santa Closet will play the following performance schedule: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm. (additional performance on Tuesday, December 3 at 7 pm).

Tickets are priced at $35 with Special Reserved Seating available at $55. Tickets may be purchased online at www.housesonthemoon.org. Student Rush: $20 cash-only at the door prior to performance, ID required, subject to availability. For Groups of 10+, contact groups@housesonthemoon.org.

BIOS

Jeffrey Solomon (Author/Performer) is the co-founder of Houses on the Moon Theater Company, a New York City not-for-profit with a mission to amplify unheard voices. Jeff wrote and directed two original Houses productions, Building Houses on the Moon (Lucille Lortel Theatre, City Theatre, Pittsburgh, Winner: Best Play for an Ensemble, Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival) and De Novo (59E59 St. Theaters, Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop, Palacio Tecleño in El Salvador). He is also the playwright of Tara's Crossing, which appeared at the Queens Theatre’s Immigrant Voice’s Project and had its world premiere run at the Tenement Theatre in New York. De Novo and Tara's Crossing are presented widely in Law Schools as a training tool on asylum and refugee issues. As a solo performer and playwright Mr. Solomon’s MotherSON premiered at HERE Art Center in New York and he received a Joseph Jefferson Nomination for Best Actor for the same performance in Chicago at the Bailiwick Rep. The play has had acclaimed runs on London's Off West End (New End Theatre, Oval House) and in Melbourne, Australia (Theatre Works) and toured widely with engagements in U.S., U.K. India, Sri Lanka, Israel and the Philippines. The play has been embraced a diversity training tool at colleges, universities, houses of worship and corporations. His performance won the Best Actor Award in Dublin’s Absolut Gay Theatre Festival as well as the Awards for Audience Favorite, Best Playwriting and Best Male Solo Performer at the Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival. Jeff's other solo play The Santa Closet (formerly Santa Claus is Coming Out) ran Off Broadway on Theatre Row at the Kirk Playhouse and won the Best of the Festival at the Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival. The play has toured nationally and run at the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego and will have a ten- (year anniversary production this holiday season at Teatro Circulo in New York. Jeff is a Moth Grand Slam champion and his story has been heard on NPR's Moth Radio Hour. Jeffrey Solomon's original teleplay for "CityKids" (ABC/Jim Henson Productions) received an Emmy Nomination for Best Children's Special as well as winning an Ollie Award for excellence in Children's Programming.

Joe Brancato (Director) was cited by The New York Times as “one of America’s most insightful directors.” His Off-Broadway credits include the critically acclaimed productions of Michael McKeever’s Daniel’s Husband and After; Tryst (New England’s IRNE Award nominations for Best Director and Best Production & Outer Critics nomination for Best Play); Erasmus Fenn’s Drop Dead Perfect; The Devil’s Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Off Bway Alliance & Audelco Award nominee); Tom Dudzick’s Miracle on South Division Street; Fall to Earth and Freed (Audelco Award nominee); Cobb (Drama Desk winner) produced by Kevin Spacey and Melting Pot; One Shot, One Kill at Primary Stages; The Big Swing (starring Madeline Kahn, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Marisa Tomei) and Dr. Valentine’s Waltz (starring John Turturro, Laura Linney, Jane Alexander); Hold the Wedding, produced by Joseph Papp. In addition to his extensive regional credits as a director, as founding artistic director of Penguin Rep Joe has directed 150 productions there including numerous premieres. He commissioned (with Andrew M. Horn) and directed the play T_he Man Who Was Peter Pan, which is the basis for the Broadway musical and film Finding Neverland. Joe was named Best Director by L.A. Scene for Santa Claus is Coming Out (The Santa Closet) and received two Rockland County Executive Awards for artistic excellence. www.joebrancato.com.

Houses on the Moon Theater Company, whose work has been hailed as “potent” and “powerful” (The New York Times), was founded in 2001. Through creative workshops, original performances, and post-show discussions, Houses on the Moon helps communities come together by making meaningful connections through the public sharing of their untold stories. All Houses projects are created through an extensive developmental and research process in collaboration with its community partners, which have included Amnesty International, the AFSC Immigrant Rights Program, Human Rights First and many others. At the core of the developmental process are interviews with real people about their lives, and a creative search for those human stories that yearn for a much wider hearing. Houses on the Moon believes in the power of theater to transform lives and instill empathy. Experiencing other people’s emotional lives and journeys through the lens of a character allows the company to connect in a “safe” way and to learn about ourselves and those around us.

The company's inaugural production in 2001, Building Houses on the Moon, dealt with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth issues, and, in addition to its many ongoing student and Teacher Training performances, was seen at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York and the Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival where it won the Award for Best Ensemble Production. The play tours New York City Public High Schools each year in conjunction with “Respect for All Week,” the NYC Department of Education's Anti-Bullying and Harassment Initiative. Additional original company works include: Tara's Crossing, one of the first plays ever to deal with political asylum for refugees fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, which had its World Premiere in 2005 at the L.E.S. Tenement Theatre and is still presented widely in theaters and as a training tool on gender identity and legal issues; TRANSformation, a storytelling performance piece about gender identity and family, with the aim of educating the public and empowering these families in their struggle for inclusion, most recently presented in partnership with the NYC Council Speaker’s Office; The Assignment and gUN COUNTRY, both developed through workshops with people whose lives have been touched by guns, presented in repertory at the A.R.T./NY Theaters in 2017; and the acclaimed documentary play De Novo, which told the true story of Edgar Chocoy, a teenaged boy from Guatemala who faced deportation after fleeing to the U.S. to escape gang life, which premiered Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters in 2010 and was revived at Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop in 2017.

The Houses on the Moon Board is R. Erin Craig, Jane Dubin (Board Chair), Rashad Chambers, Amy Gottleib, Jeremy Handelman, Jennifer Isaacson, Aryah Somers-Landsberger, Jenny Paredes, Jeffrey Rosenstock (Board Chair), Jeffrey Solomon, Melissa Springs, and Emily Joy Weiner.
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