Are suburban Illinois and Wisconsin towns ready to welcome 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche into their churches, synagogues and community colleges? The artists of a Lake County theater company certainly think so.
"I was very pleasantly surprised by how many open and affirming congregations were available for me to contact," said Allison Fradkin, the artistic director of Antioch-based Mosaic Players.
Fradkin not only stars in the company's tour of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, but was instrumental in helping to set up all the venues and LGBTQ organizations like Elgin Pride and the LGBTQIA+ Task Force of Vernon Hills that are hosting or co-producing the play.
"It was heartwarming to know that we got so many 'yeses,'" Fradkin said. "I was just hoping for eight shows, and we ended up with nearly 20."
Mosaic Players was founded in 2020 with the goal to tour edgier and more-inclusive theater in suburban communities "within a reasonable driving distance" according to Fradkin. The company previously produced Eric Overmyer's 1987 play On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning and Anna Deavere Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, a 1994 docudrama about the riots that erupted following the acquittals of police officers who were videotaped beating Rodney King.
When Fradkin assumed the artistic directorship of Mosaic Players, she immediately put 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche on the agenda.
"You know exactly what you're getting," said Fradkin about the quirky 2011 comedy, which she credits in part to inspiring her to become an actress and playwright. "It's so right there in the titleit's not hiding."
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche originated in 2010 as part of Collaboration's Sketchbook X revue by playwrights Andrew Hobgood and Evan Linder. The following year, the duo expanded their sketch into a one-act play at Chicago's DANK Haus for the storefront theater company that they co-founded, The New Colony. (The company later re-branded as The New Coordinates in 2021 before disbanding in May of this year).
5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche has since become a notable theater success. Regional productions proliferated across the country thanks in large part to its juicy comic roles for five performers, its single setting and a very eye-catching title. 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche also had two off-Broadway runs in New York in 2012 and 2013, plus a 2014 commercial return to Chicago at the Chopin Theatre.
The premise of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche is simple. The very organized and resourceful "widows" of The Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein are having a regular meeting in the '50s when they are suddenly faced with a nuclear holocaust. The group's leadership is then prodded to share a number of apparent and hidden revelations.
"It still can be scary to come out and be your authentic self." said Fradkin about the show's characters, who have differing levels of openness about their sexual identitieseven though the society's namesakes give strong hints about who might have been attracted to join the group.
Fradkin notes that the situational comedy and drama of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche also hits harder, especially with recent memories of COVID-19 lock downs mirroring the play's timely plot point of enforced radiation quarantining.
Fradkin is also proud of the fact that Mosaic Players' production features an all queer-identified cast and director, Tera Flores. She's also pleased to have met so many self-identified lesbians from the audience who have been laughing and reveling in their still-too-rare onstage representation.
Although the Mosaic Players cast has to adapt to the different conditions and configuration of each venue, they are grateful for the community spirit that they've encountered along the way from their co-hosting organizations and locations.
"Pretty much all of our host venues are baking a quiche for us," said Fradkin about the play's all-important titular prop. "It is super-nice and I super-appreciate that."
Mosaic Players' 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche continues on tour through various towns in Illinois and Wisconsin through Sunday, Nov. 5. Tour stops include: Elgin (Sept. 23), Des Plaines (Sept. 24 and Oct. 27), Waukegan (Sept. 30), Grayslake (Oct. 1), Northbrook (Oct. 6 and 7), Milwaukee (Oct. 8), Glen Ellyn (Oct. 11), Waukesha, Wisconsin (Oct. 14), Vernon Hills (Oct. 15), Schaumburg (Oct. 20), Skokie (Oct. 21 and 28), Park Ridge (Oct. 22), Northfield (Nov. 4) and Oak Park (Nov. 5). For more information on venues, curtain times and ticket prices, visit MosaicPlayers.com .