Two iconic gay theater artists will be visiting Chicago in February for extended residencies. No, no, darlings, Alexandra Billings and Stage Door Jonny live here. We mean Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, and director/playwright Moises Kaufman.
Kushner, author of Angels in America and The Illusion, will be in residence at Steppenwolf Theatre Company where his most recent play, Homebody/Kabul, will be given a week-long closed workshop before being produced on the Wolf mainstage, directed by Frank Galati. A New York hit last year (with former Chicagoan Linda Emond receiving sensational reviews as the female lead), Homebody/Kabul proved to be sensationally timely, opening just three months after 9/11, but in the works long before. Kushner now feels he can improve the play—he workshopped and rewrote Angels in American for 10 years before it reached Broadway—in collaboration with Galati and lead actor Amy Morton, a member of the Steppenwolf ensemble. The closed workshop will be Feb. 18-23, with the mainstage production opening in April. Coincidentally, The Illusion, an early Kushner work adapted from a French 18th Century play, is running at the Wing & Groove Theatre in Bucktown, Feb. 1-March 8.
Moises Kaufman wrote and directed Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, and co-authored and staged The Laramie Project. About Face Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) are bringing him in as director of I Am My Own Wife, a new one-woman play by Douglas Jeffries, to be given a try-out at the MCA, Feb. 22-March 16, prior to its official world premiere in New York. The Chicago run officially is being dubbed a workshop. Watch for an interview with Kaufman and Jeffries in the Feb. 12 Windy City Times.
February seems to be workshop month. The public most definitely is invited to participate in the Feb. 7-9 workshop readings of March on My Grave, a new play by Sara Berry Short about the November, 2001 murder of Wisconsin lesbian activist Juana Vega, by her lover's brother. The case raised a variety of issues, not the least of which was why the murderer was not tried under hate-crimes statutes, since reportedly he said he killed Vega for turning his sister gay. The presenter is the side project, a theater troupe founded just two years ago with a special interest in developing new work. The location is The Side Studio, 1520 W. Jarvis. Call (773) 973-2150.
If you live in the suburbs, you can see naked boys on TV. Jonny means Bailiwick Repertory's Naked Boys Singing, of course, who now are featured in a tastefully—and ingeniously—edited TV commerical that began running on suburban cable stations Jan. 20. The spot airs on the CNN Morning News, the Learning Channel, and Entertainment Tonight among other program outlets. Why the suburbs? Well, to be brutal about it, all the big city fags already know about the show or have seen it at least once. Meanwhile, bachelorette parties, divorce parties, girls nights out, nurses and even nuns have taken Naked Boys Singing to their collective bosom. The Naked Boys' buns are being buttered by straight, suburban ladies these days! The spot marks the first time the show has been advertised on TV anywhere in the country. You can bet New York will be watching.
Opera queens, you have your opportunities tomorrow, Jan. 30. Handsome young baritone, and Lyric Opera star, Nathan Gunn will present an intimate recital at 7 p.m. at the Chicago Cultural Center, accompanied by pianist Julie Jordan. Gunn, who sang the title role in Billy Budd last season, will perform songs by gay composers Francis Poulenc, Ned Rorem and Samuel Barber among other repertory. Also tomorrow, at 12:15 p.m., the Museum of Broadcast Communications will show a TV classic from 1967, the Bell Telephone Hour's First Ladies of the Opera, featuring Nilsson, Price and—gasp!—Tebaldi in their primes. WFMT's Andy Karzas will be the host. The Museum is on the first floor of the Cultural Center. Both these events are absolutely FREEEEE!