Gay Marriage Plays Come to Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center

President Barack Obama is for it.  Vice President Joe Biden is for it too.  And the majority of Americans agree with the Commander-in-Chief and his second in command.  According to a recent Gallup Poll, 53 percent of Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage.

That hot-button topic is brought to life in Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, which comes to Broward Center June 21-24.

Presented by City Theatre, the Miami-based company known for its annual production, Summer Shorts, and Broward Center, Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays was originally conceived by Brian Shnipper and began as a series of fundraisers in Los Angeles.  A portion of each ticket is donated to marriage equality organizations.

Since City Theatre has been producing an annual short play festival for 17 years, John Manzelli, artistic director of City Theatre, felt that this is the right time and the right company to bring Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays to local audiences.

“So rarely as theater artists do we have the opportunity to use our art in a truly meaningful way in the larger community,” said Manzelli.  “The subject of marriage rights for gay couples has become one of the major social/political issues of our time and the opportunity to produce an evening of really great short plays and bring this type of arts advocacy to South Florida seemed a perfect fit for City Theatre.”

The nine short plays in Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays are written by well-known playwrights:  Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Moises Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, Jose Rivera, Paul Rudnick and Doug Wright.  The subjects of the plays run the gamut, from a couple reminiscing about their wedding, to the loss of a partner, to a confrontation between a Midwestern housewife and a Focus on Family member.

Bryan Batt, best known for his role as a closeted art director on AMC’s hit show Mad Men, and comedy writer and actor Bruce Vilanch, who donned a dress to play Edna Turnblad in the stage musical Hairspray, headline the cast.  Jazz singer Nicole Henry will perform in the production on Friday, June 22 and Sunday, June 24.

“This show is as much a celebration and a theatrical event as it is a show and so we knew that bringing in some high profile names would help us reach a larger audience base for this important work,” said Manzelli.  “So many fine performers wanted to be part of this issue and production that we had a number of choices. Bryan and Bruce each have Broadway caliber credits and a history with this project. Additionally, Nicole Henry freed her schedule to join us for 2 nights as an actor and will be lending her elite talents as one of the nation’s premiere jazz vocalists to the closing Sunday performance with a short celebration of song.”

In addition to the production, each performance features a reception with music and wedding cake after the show.

While Manzelli believes audiences will enjoy a “fun and touching evening,” he also hopes Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays will spark more examination and more discussion of a thought-provoking subject.

“I don't expect that you can change minds in a 2 hour show,” said Manzelli, “but maybe through laughter and tears, we can soften the dialogue just a little.”

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, runs June 21-24 at the Amaturo Theatre at Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.  For tickets and more information, visit BrowardCenter.org.

Standing on Ceremony:  The Gay Marriage Plays

Traditional Wedding by Mo Gaffney: A lesbian couple reminisce about their wedding.

The Revision by Jordan Harrison: Two men rewrite their vows to more accurately reflect the limited options available to them.

This Flight Tonight by Wendy MacLeod: Is there any hope for happiness when a lesbian marriage begins in Iowa?

On Facebook by Doug Wright: Adapted from an actual Facebook thread chronicling one long fight among friends on the subject of gay marriage.

Strange Fruit by Neil LaBute: Two men who plan to marry “the old-fashioned way” are stymied when reality rears its ugly head.

The Gay Agenda by Paul Rudnick: A plea for understanding by an Ohio homemaker and member of Focus on the Family.

My Husband by Paul Rudnick: A gay twist on the stereotype of the Jewish mother desperate to marry off her children.

London Mosquitoes by Moisés Kaufman: A widower tries to make sense of the loss of his longtime lover.

Pablo and Andrew at the Altar of Words by José Rivera:  Two men use their marriage vows to “say the things we never really say.”

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