Red Eye of Love: a review

*published 5 Sept 2014 on The EDGE

Alli Mauzey, Josh Grisetti

Alli Mauzey, Josh Grisetti  (Source:Carol Rosegg)

 

To say that “Red Eye of Love” had a long voyage to its present incarnation is a proverbial understatement. The current musical began life in 1961 at the iconic Living Theater, as a wild romp of a play by experimentalist Arnold Weinstein. It was originally directed by John Wulp, who won a directing Obie back in the day, and became the work’s unflagging champion. It is because of Wulp’s devotion and stellar reputation in the theater world that nearly five decades after a first bow “Red Eye of Love” is back, and with a modern vigor.

This is a romantic musical with a stunning cast, a beautifully realized presentation and a message for our times. But it is wacky, non-linear, confusing, poetic and sometimes flabbergasting. The premise that rings as true now, (sadly) as it did in the ’60s, is that artists and the 99 percent are constantly making choices between having a safe, happy life and “selling out,” as folks used to say.

The ingénue Selma Chargess, played with adorable aplomb by Alli Mauzey (who can warble and hoof with equal measure and win the hearts of all around her), is engaged to Meat Magnate O. O. Martinas. He is an older man who has made his fortune building a mega store for meat. Weinstein was prescient in ascribing the ability to amass millions in a niche market. One could not have conceived in the era of the Vietnam War that cold pressed juice, boutique water or thousand dollar jeans would become huge franchises.

But O.O. as he is called makes the big bucks selling venison, chops, brisket and beyond — in fact, Brisket and Beyond might have been the stores’ name if it had been written today. Kevin Pariseau of “Legally Blonde” fame gives life to O.O. as a smarmy, mustachioed villain, with a deeply hidden heart of gold. The entire work harkens back to musicals and films of the ’40s where damsels are in distress and need rescuing.

Selma is a sad wife to O.O., avoiding his bed and working in the meat mart, but longing for something more when she encounters hardship Wilmer Flange. Wilmer, played by Josh Grisetti, has a hangdog exterior and a tenor voice to beat the band. He has little ambition other than to find “the key” whatever that may be.

The key to the success of this show is the terrific cast. The ensemble is diverse and remarkable and features Katie Chung, Daniel Lynn Evans, Katie Hagen and Sam Tanabe. Of special mention are Tracie Franklin who gets a star turn as a singer in a ’40s boite with a smoky song and a silky voice, and Daniel May embodying a very funny Japanese-German hybrid soldier who can dance and prance with the best of them.

The music has recently received a complete overhaul, the original score by Jan Warner having been dubbed “too complicated and more like an opera score.” So a young composer, Sam Davis, was brought in to create an upbeat ’40s-type score played masterfully on two ever-present dueling pianos front and center.

The musicians are Roberto Sinha and Greg Jarrett, who is also the musical director. At times I think the casts’ excellent music chops might have been well challenged by more complicated musical memes, because when harmonies and dissonance did enter, I found myself perking up and saying, ‘Ahh yes, this is something.’

Ted Sperling, who most recently won a Tony for orchestrating “The Light in the Piazza,” directs the Amas Musical Theater’s evening. The show moves at a great clip as we evolve past the love affair and into the Depression, World War II and economic recovery, but credit is also due to choreographers Lainie Sakakura and Alex Sanchez for high kicks and more.

The design features a backdrop by acclaimed painter Robert Indiana, enhanced admirably with projections by David Wilson. Even the lights and costumes by Matthew Richards and Martha Bromelmeier respectively need to get applause as they really create a fully realized historic sense.

The second act is where this work really begins to dig deep and cross over to addressing some of the thorny economic issue that have not ceased to plague us. Among them is how our economy uses the economically unempowered to fight wars, while not recognizing their contributions upon return. The creatives who long to discover, in this case, a special toy, to make our contribution to society, only to see that those who are valued most make mega markets of meat or cashmere or juice.

In the end all three star-crossed lovers are united in a troika that may or may not move forward to the land of happily ever after. But it does reinforce the concept that if every member of the one percent “adopted” two from the ninety-nine percent we might all have our lives enhanced.

“Red Eye of Love” runs through September 28 at Dicapo Opera Theatre, 184 East 76th Street. For information or tickets, call 212-868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com/redeye

My Life Is a Musical: a review

*published on 22 Aug 2014 on The Edge

Kathleen ELizabeth Monteleone, Justin Matthew Sargent, Howie Michael Smith

Kathleen ELizabeth Monteleone, Justin Matthew Sargent, Howie Michael Smith  (Source:Lenny Stucker)

 

It is not often that one travels to the theatrical hinterlands to encounter pitch-perfect musical comedy, but at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street theater song, laughter and sophisticated humor are in the salty air.“My Life is a Musical” with book, lyrics and music penned by fresh-faced Adam Overett, threatens to be a hit well beyond a summer love affair.

This show’s premise is that a young accountant named Parker, played with dorky aplomb and great singing chops by Howie Michael Smith, has a secret. He hears every thing as if he were in a musical. Overett took as the nugget for creating this new work the idea that many folks really hate the way in a musical everyone will just burst into song willy-nilly to describe any and every situation. Overett said, “I thought what would it be like if this was the reality for one person, this was their reality, but no one else could hear it.” And thus “My Life is a Musical” was hatched.

The Bay Street Theater is the perfect crucible for launching new work and in their current season they have premiered two. The space is an intimate semi-proscenium theater where ushers even offer blankets to the audience in what might be a hyper air-conditioned environment for some. This show unfolds the inner world of Parker as he shares his dreaded secret that every encounter he has, from an innovative bus commute to passersby, all share their lives in song.

This tortures Parker so he chooses to live as solitary a life as he can to avoid the dreaded soundtrack. He is thrust into a musical reality when his boss assigns him to be the accountant for a rock band on tour. Hijinx and musical marvelousness ensue.

The small cast, each brimming with talent, charisma and diversity, light up the stage as they embody a panoply of characters from Hasidim to admiral, roadie to cop to secret spy. The characters are all really caricatures, which only adds to the fun. The character of Zac, the erstwhile rock star, is played with enormous ego and a belting voice by Justin Matthew Sargent and the manager, JT, who loves music and the band, but can’t carry a tune in a bucket, is the winsome, talented Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone. (As an aside, when did every actor begin using three names? )

The band, called Zeitgeist, goes on tour with the accountant in tow and Parker is transformed when the rock star cannot compose a song. Well, since Parker hears music everywhere, songs spew forth. And in this case they are backed up by the best little four piece band on the East End of Long Island, led by conductor Vadim Feichtner.

Feichtner is also the show’s musical director and has worked recently and often with the marvelous William Finn, whose music is often echoed in this piece. This is a real complement coming from a Finn fanatic.

As well as being musically satisfying and hummable, this evening is so funny that the yucks and sustained guffaws resonated throughout the theater. There is a gem of a character called Randy who is a music blogger, but his secret life is that he sees everything through a glass darkly.

His life is a spy novel. He is constantly garbed in a fedora and trench coat, even over his pajamas, as he endeavors to dig up dirt on who is the real author behind Zeitgeist’s rocking song fame. Of course he does, and Parker is elevated to song meister, he gets the girl, and it no longer seems so horrible that his life is really a musical endeavor.

The show is supported by a small cast that plays many quick-change roles, all delineated with panache in the costuming genius of Amy Clark. Beards are tossed aside for conductor’s caps and the revolving door of a world filled with silly often comes with the perfect outfit. The set, designed by David Arsenault, is very simple but literally sets the stage for whimsy and farce, and is perfectly utilized by director and choreographer Marlo Hunter.

The show runs until August 31, but honestly if you don’t see this mounted soon in a theater on the smaller island of Manhattan, I’ll eat my hat — or my false beard.

“My Life is a Musical” runs through August 31 at The Bay Street Theater, 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor, NY 11963. For tickets or information, call 631-725-9500 or visitwww.baystreet.org/Performances/18/MY-LIFE-IS-A-MUSICAL.html

Fuerza Bruta “Wayra”

*published on 31 July 2014 on The EDGE

The cast of 'Wayra'

The cast of ‘Wayra’  (Source:Jacob Cohl)

 

Cell phones are popping selfies and snagging videos from the moment the very young, hip, multi-lingual crowd bounces into the lobby bar at the Daryl Roth Theatre on East 15 Street. This gang is ready to paaaartey and the show hasn’t even begun.

The final installment of the De La Guarda trilogy, which began back in 2007 with the show “Fuerza Bruta,” is an Argentine-founded, multi-sensory spectacular created by Artistic Director Diqui James and Musical Director Gaby Kerpel. And the beat continues undiluted with “Wayra.”

This is a spectacle for our digital age. There are no regulations against the constant parade of photos, except no flash, and phones held in the air emit a ghostly light, which covers the audience as they huddle or move en masse, like a huge proteus across the theater. There is no real premise other than loud, sometimes excruciatingly blaring fun.

The show is comprised of an equal number of musicians, actors, dancers and a T-shirt clad crew of extremely young men and women who usher the audience, raise curtains, move furniture and I am sure create a completely safe environment for all involved. And that seems at times a daunting task.

The show never stops throbbing and the audience is on their feet for the entire 90 minutes. Everyone claps, sways, screams and moves to either avoid the cascading water, the huge fans blowing confetti or to touch the enormous plexi- glass ceiling that descends upon all creating a thin tissue between audience and the scantily clad, well waxed dancers who writhe in the sloshing waters above our heads.

The entire time a beat that could rival any ’80s disco causes the room to pulse and the audience to assume the role of willing drum major. All that was missing was the pervasive aroma of poppers to bring the dance floor alive, redolent of another age.

But this is the 21st Century and there was pulsing not dancing, and constant archiving for future personal use. The music is played on huge kettle drums and South American flutes as well as guitars and electronic synthesizers and it augments the sense of endless wonder that is attempted by rolling floors, aerial contortions and undulating walls of Mylar that shoot dancers in arcs above our heads.

But alas there is no plot or glue that moves the evening along. Perhaps that is an old-fashioned constraint and desire, but spectacle for its own sake grows tired even if it is only for an hour and a half. Albeit standing and craning upward or ducking to avoid torrents of water, which can also be a tad taxing, thus render play clothes and comfy shoes a must.

At the end, the crowd is in a frenzy and the performers and techies throng the stages clapping to elicit a musical encore. The bar is thrown open and drinks are two-for-one and the party continues, spilling out into the summer night. Why not?

“Fuerza Bruta: Wayra” enjoys an extended run at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street in NYC. For information or tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit www.fuerzabrutanyc.com

Holler if Ya Hear Me: review

*published in The EDGE on 19 June 2014

Saul Williams, Dyllon Burnside (background) and Joshua Boone

Saul Williams, Dyllon Burnside (background) and Joshua Boone  (Source:Joan Marcus)

 

“Holler If Ya Hear Me,” is the new musical inspired by the lyrics of the late rapper Tupac Shakur and directed by powerhouse Kenny Leon, fresh off his win at the Tony Awards. It is not a literal telling of Tupac’s life, but rather, “a non-biographical story about friendship, family, revenge, change and hope.”

This is a huge undertaking because although Tupac Shakur’s life was cut off at 25, he was an incredibly prolific writer, rapper and poet and there was an ocean of material from which to choose. The fact that it takes a stage full — nearly thirty incredibly talented actors, singers, and dancers — to portray the inner workings of one very complex man named Tupac is a testament to the depth and staying power of his work.

It also creates challenges in making this piece come to life in a comprehensible way. In numbers like “I Get Around” versus “Keep your Head Up” you have the men sing one song and the women sing the other embodying their struggles, but the glory of Tupac’s writing is that it was the same person writing both these misogynist words and the paean to women and motherhood, just at different moments.

The book is penned by Todd Kreidler, a frequent dramaturg for August Wilson, and it is most definitely not the life of Tupac Shakur, but it might be his times. And sadly, twenty years later the situation in inner cities among people of color is not significantly changed. If anything, time has eroded some of the protections and programs available to youth in the “ghetto.”

This work is not easy to leap into. You are thrown into the lives of panoply of characters and might struggle to figure out the arc of the plot. The better route is to give yourself over to the passion, glorious talent and rich text. By the second act you will certainly have become happily immersed.

The work opens with acclaimed poet Saul Williams as a character called John; he is high above the stage tethered to a cell in an orange prison jumpsuit. Williams is normally a solo performer who holds an audience with his silver tongue and adroit delivery, but on occasion in “Holler” it feels as if the words he is rapping are pushing him too fast and they get lost. But his presence is mighty.

He is up against the singing chops of none other than Tonya Pinkins, three-time Tony nominee, possessing a voice that snaps heads in her direction and keeps them focused there until her last note.

Then there is the only “white-boy” in the hood, played by the incredible Ben Thompson whose last Broadway role was the headmistress in “Matilda;” he brings humor, pathos, a great voice and fleet dancing feet. Christopher Jackson as Vertus is a big man with a bigger voice and charm to win the ladies and fight the gangs.

His other compatriots are the equally talented Joshua Boone as Darius and Dyllon Burnside as Anthony. Saycon Sengbloh plays John’s former girl and Darius’ current love and she has a duet with Saul Williams, ” Unconditional Love,” that is heartbreakingly beautiful.

The set by Edward Pierce is a flexible cityscape enhanced by Zachary Borovay’s projections and well-lit by Mike Baldassari. The choreography by Wayne Cilento of “Wicked” moves the cast, all of whom dance, sing, leap and bring the amazing words of Tupac Shakur to audiences who have waited too long to see Tupac’s work elevated to a Broadway level.

Although this piece is flawed by some disconnect in the first act, by the time the curtain comes down the crowd is raucous, grateful and energized.

“Holler if Ya Hear Me” enjoys an extended run at The Palace Theater, 1546 Broadway in New York. For information or tickets, call 212-730-8200 or visit http://hollerifyahearme.com/

 

Partnerships That Blend the Skills of Two Generations

*published on 17 May 2014 in the NYT by Marci Alboher

Wickham Boyle, 63, the vice president of Just Shea, and the company’s 31-year-old president are the driving force behind a business whose profits go to a related nonprofit, which helps protect women who harvest shea nuts. Credit Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

IN her late 50s, Wickham Boyle left her job as an editor to pursue a project she was passionate about, producing an opera about 9/11 based on a book she wrote. A few months later, when she was ready to go back to work, she discovered it wasn’t so easy to find her next gig. “Our play closed on the day Lehman crashed, and my world dissolved,” she said, recalling the start of the financial crisis in 2008.

But then she met Danielle Grace Warren, who, at 25, was involved in a project to improve conditions and business prospects for the 600,000 women in Ghana who work in the global trade of cosmetics and cooking products made from the nut of the shea tree.

The two discovered they were a perfect team, despite the differences in their ages. Four years later, Ms. Boyle, now 63 and vice president, and Ms. Warren, 31 and president, are the driving force behind Just Shea, a for-profit social business based in New York that markets shea products. The profits go to a related nonprofit, which provides, among other things, equipment to protect women who harvest shea nuts from snake bites, and microloans secured by crops stored in a cooperative silo.

Danielle Grace Warren has said that working alongside someone twice her age feels natural. Credit Dan Warren

They also defy the persistent stereotype about younger and older people battling over jobs in the still-shaky economy.

When these multigenerational ventures succeed, if is often because of the different sets of skills and perspectives that an older and younger person can bring to solving a problem.

Lara Galinsky, senior vice president of Echoing Green, which provides seed funding to emerging social entrepreneurs, says she frequently sees such partnerships. Though the average age of their applicants is 29 to 32, she explained, “When you unpeel the layers, there’s often someone older who’s been guiding them in a mentor role or as part of the founding team.”

According to Nancy Henkin, executive director of Temple University’s Intergenerational Center, this kind of working and thinking can be applied in ways that even go beyond a specific venture or project. “How do you build communities that are welcoming for people of all ages, and how do you engage people of all ages in a collective effort to make the community a good place for growing up and growing older?” she said. “Instead of a senior and a youth center, why not a vibrant community center where people come together and intentionally foster trust, empathy and interaction?”

Ms. Boyle said she felt an immediate connection to Ms. Warren and her project. She grew up traveling often to Ghana and other parts of West Africa and had spent most of her career in the nonprofit sector. Initially, she volunteered her time, making introductions to her network of contacts. After about six months, the two secured an angel investment from a family friend of Ms. Warren’s, which turned their cause into a venture. The two are paid the same salary, which rises and falls based on how fund-raising is going.

The company’s products are sold in stores like ABC Home and through the Just Shea website. Though the venture is gaining traction, Ms. Boyle still takes on outside freelancing work. “I do worry constantly about paying the bills, but I’ve had an incredibly interesting chock-a-block full life,” she said. “And I do have this loft, which is my pension, 401(k) and I.R.A. It’s a sadness, but at some point I will have to move out of the loft so that its sale will care for an old me.”

Ms. Warren says working alongside someone twice her age feels natural. She learned about being an entrepreneur from her father, who has run a series of small businesses, including a tropical flower farm in Florida and reforestation project in Haiti. When she was in college, her father invited her to Haiti to help develop an idea he had for a women’s resource center, to provide classes in sewing and other skills and information about health and nutrition. Ms. Warren’s family wasn’t rich, but playing this kind of role was a part of her upbringing. Ms. Boyle feels a similar comfort in the team. Her daughter is the same age as Ms. Warren.

When Ms. Boyle and Ms. Warren describe their respective contributions, they explain how their ages and life stages complement one another. They use Ms. Boyle’s loft as an office and meeting space, even as a place to hold fund-raising events. “I also have tons of contacts from a life lived across careers,” Ms. Boyle says. She found a chemist who turned the raw shea into a marketable product, for example. Ms. Warren, by contrast, has relationships with funders of organizations like theirs and with others working on similar globally oriented social ventures. With no children tying her to the United States, she can travel to Ghana for long periods of time to focus on local fund-raising opportunities and to work with their employee on the ground. “We share like mad,” Ms. Boyle said.

Housecalls for the Homebound, another venture led by people of different generations, is a medical practice serving geriatric patients in Brooklyn and Queens. It began four years ago because of conversations at a family dinner table. Daniel Stokar, now 26, was preparing to graduate from college. His grandfather, Samuel Lupin, now 75, was talking about retiring after more than 40 years as a physician. Most of his patients had aged along with him. Over time, he dedicated more of his practice to house calls, so his less mobile patients would not have to travel to doctor’s appointments. “This was an example of a glaring medical need not being met by very many doctors,” Dr. Lupin said.

Mr. Stokar proposed bringing on some younger physicians and medical staff and training them in Dr. Lupin’s approach to care. “When Daniel talked about ‘taking my practice to scale,’ so that we could help hundreds, perhaps thousands more patients, I had never even heard that phrase,” Dr. Lupin said. “That’s not a term my generation used.”

Each family member has a well-defined role. Dr. Lupin interviews and hires other doctors, and serves as a mentor to them. Daniel Stokar runs the business of office. And Daniel’s father, Avi Stokar, who is a software engineer and computer programmer, is the resident technology expert. He created the electronic medical system used by the practice to track patient data during the house call visits.

“It’s a real blend of the old and the new,” Dr. Lupin said. “What we are doing medically — the actual rendering of bedside care — is very old. But every other aspect of the delivery is modernized.”

Since its start (originally as Brooklyn Housecalls), Housecalls for the Homebound has brought on six additional doctors and a nurse practitioner and has provided care to about 800 patients. They have a model that provides doctors with a competitive salary, without requiring them to run a back office or do hospital rounds. And they are proud that they have been able to deliver good care at a low cost. “If we needed to, we could visit a patient in this category even weekly, for an entire year, for less than it costs in New York for a single hospitalization,” Dr. Lupin said. The group also provides consulting services to hospitals and other practices that want to emulate their model.

Two years ago, Dr. Lupin stopped going out on house calls, maintaining his role in managing the medical staff and consulting on difficult cases. On average, he says he is working about 15 to 20 hours a week. After 50 years practicing medicine, Dr. Lupin says this work is the most gratifying of his career. And he hopes it will be his legacy. “I can’t pass on my medical slot to my son-in-law and grandson, but I can pass on the project.”

Extraordinary Extremities

*published on April 15, 2014 in The Edge

Puppeteer Carlo Adinolfi will star in the world premiere of ’Extraordinary Extremeties’

Puppeteer Carlo Adinolfi will star in the world premiere of ’Extraordinary Extremeties’  (Source:Richard Termine)

 

The premise for this 60-minute one-man show is so fascinating that the play could prove difficult to live up to the evening’s backstory. “Extraordinary Extremities” is written and directed by Renee Philippi, who created the magical, “The Whale.”

This piece is designed and performed by solo-performer and puppeteer, Carlo Adinolfi. Add to this the lovely music composed by Lewis Finn and performed on stage by cellist Jeanette Stenson.

Author Philippi attempts to mesh the inspiring story
of Hugh Herr, the biomedical engineer whose legs were amputated after a climbing accident, and who now designs technologically advanced artificial limbs. The story aired on NPR and featured Herr as enthusing that he has over 20 different pairs of feet. “I feel fortunate that I can always look forward to having better and better feet,” he stated in his “Fresh Air” interview entitled, “The Double Amputee Who Designs Better Limbs.”

So artists and collaborators, Philippi and Adinolfi took this concept of many feet and tried to cobble (pun intended) together a tale of Geppetto, the woodcarver best known for making Pinocchio, into a tale of three mythic Greek tales, all with a hero who has different sets of legs. Are you with me?

What the audience sees on stage at the adorable SoHo Playhouse on Vandam Street (readers take note this is NOT the SoHo Rep, which is further downtown) is a complicated tale with very little script and lots of wonderful, imaginative props and stage scurrying. The children, teens mostly, seemed to laugh and love the madcap, crazy professor approach to pulling strings from hither and yon to make waves flow on the puppeteer’s workbench as he simultaneously bemoans having to now “do it all” as his beloved wife Donna has recently passed away.

The myths told in the briefest outlines are Andromeda and Perseus, Menelaus and Helen of Troy and finally a dive into a painted underworld with Orpheus and Eurydice. In every case the hero is outfitted with new legs, ingeniously clamped with mathematical compasses, or wooden hammers and metal extensions that shoot out and allow him as Orpheus to descend into the underworld to save his beloved.

The overarching theme is that in our modern over-charged world, we all wear so many hats and feet. We must all soldier on whether with our partners and helpmates or finally alone, and we can never give up.

That is an admirable theme and the attempted knitting of myth, reality and performance works on occasion, but the show is scant on words and too long on fussing without a full-throttled payoff. But golly we could all use some of those super exchangeable legs, for the days when our own just won’t carry us another step.

“Extraordinary Extremities” runs through May 31 at the Concrete Temple Theatre at the Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street in Manhattan. For information or tickets, call 212-691-1555 or visitwww.sohoplayhouse.com/event/0b01423ed6f716bdca8ab58e40d5dbaa/Extraordinary-Extremities

 

Mothers and Sons

*published on 27 Mar 2014 in The EDGE

Bobby Steggert and Frederick Weller in a scene from Terrence McNally’s ’Mothers and Sons’

Bobby Steggert and Frederick Weller in a scene from Terrence McNally’s ’Mothers and Sons’  (Source:Joan Marcus)

 

Terence McNally is one of the American playwrights who has chronicled the AIDS crisis from first whiff to full-blown plague, to the triple cocktail and now in his newest work “Mothers and Sons” he asks us to ponder the plight of those who remained and went on courageously to remake lives.

His newest work plays at the lovely jewel box John Golden Theater, where John Lee Beatty has installed an opulent Upper West Side apartment. Every New Yorker in the audience is ogling it, wondering how they might sneak in to live there during the day, vacate during the show, and return to luxuriate on the divan taking in the view of the park made manifest in the first scene.

In this opening salvo there is discomfort between Tyne Daly, who icily portrays the still grieving Catherine Gerard, mother of Andre, who passed away in the early years of the AIDS crisis and Andre’s former lover Cal Porter, the very adroit Fredrick Weller.

They address each other as Mrs. Gerard and Mr. Porter, even though Cal had been with Andre for eight years. The ice has not melted and to insure we note this, Catherine Gerard does not remove her enormous bear of a fur coat (costumes well done by Jess Goldstein) until nearly half way through the play, even when asked repeatedly to do so.

Catherine has arrived unannounced two decades after her son’s passing and it seems she wants to rant and rail and share her anger and disappointment with anyone who will give it an ear. At one point she tells Cal she could angrily deconstruct the horrors of a particular ottoman. She seems always cocked and ready to go off.

The dialogue at times skews to humor and the audience either titters or roars as the barbs and sadness give way to the kind of laughter we use to mask the real conversations and emotions roiling under the surface. In life we often wish for that outer layer of fur to protect us from both the fragility and fear we carry from decades of mourning the young.

Cal makes it clear that he waited to find love, all the time missing Andre. None of this is enough for Catherine, who wants revenge. She wants to know who gave this plague to her son and yet she seems to want no part of the logistics of the gay sexual rites in the early ’80s. Catherine is convinced that when she sent her son off to New York City he was not gay. This elicits uproarious laughter.

Finally Cal’s husband Will arrives with their super-sweet six-year-old son Bud (equally lovely Grayson Taylor) in tow. And there is some wonderful dialog discussing why being able to call someone “my husband” is such an enormous treat for Cal, who, at 15 years older than Will, never expected that he would get that right and privilege.

Bobby Steggert plays the boyish, ebullient and outspoken Will Ogden and we can see the difference in the two gay generations. Cal proffers that he never thought it would be possible for him to be a father, while Will never expected anything other than fatherhood. McNally effortlessly utilizes these simple facts to underscore the changes in a gay mindset, as he paints a picture of a changing world.

There are some great moments in this rather uneven play and
McNally reminds us in between the banter and bubble bath in the next room what is so crucial. “First it will be a chapter in a history book, then a paragraph, then a footnote… It’s already started to happen. I can feel it happening. All the raw edges of pain dulled, deadened, drained away.”

We need to remember that we lost an entire generation who might have been Einstein or Mozart, or the Top Chef, and that for those who remained there is a combination of guilt, a sense of as McNally says, “those who remain being punished enough.”

This newest work marks McNally’s 20th Broadway production. Many of his works have deconstructed the various stages of the AIDS crisis and he has done so consistently inserting humor where one would assume only a mordant sense of gloom could prevail.

“Mothers and Sons” adds to the “The Lisbon Traviata” (1989), “Lips Together, Teeth Apart” (1991) and “Love! Valour! Compassion!”(1995) to create an important tapestry weaving the ongoing saga of decades in the fight against AIDS and the prejudice that shadowed it.

“Mothers and Sons” enjoys an extended run at the John Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street. For information or tickets, call 888-847-4869 or visit http://www.mothersandsonsbroadway.com