Busy Summer Ahead for LGBT Theater

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Caption: After a successful world premiere at Empire Stage, Ronnie Larsen’s “Happy Ending” transfers this weekend to Andrews Living Arts in Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village. Credit: Christian Carroll.

During the hot summer months when the snowbirds and tourists head north, many theaters are “dark,” theater jargon for “closed.” That’s not the case for three local venues that primarily attract LGBT audiences.

In addition to the critically-acclaimed world premiere of Stuart Meltzer’s funny family drama, “The Goldberg Variations,” currently playing through July 16 at Island City Stage in Wilton Manors, the LGBT-centric theater company will co-produce “Shorts Gone Wild 5,” Aug. 17 through Sept. 10. The annual festival of provocative short plays has become a summer tradition, pushing the envelope on topics of sexuality, love and gender identity. Tickets for both productions are $35 at IslandCityStage.org.

Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive in Fort Lauderdale, has also carved out a niche with small LGBT-themed plays. This weekend, “Thank You for Being a Friend,” a musical “Golden Girls” parody by Nick Brennan, will open for a three-week run. The laughs start when Puerto Rican pop singer Ricky Martin moves in next door to the funny foursome, played by Brooks Braselman, Larry Buzzeo, Paul Mercado and Nick Brennan. When Martin enters the Shady Pines Retirement Home talent show, the girls are determined to defeat him and take home the top prize. Tickets are $35 at EmpireStage.com.

Later this summer, Michael Aman’s “Muscle Bears the Musical” will get its first full production at Empire Stage, opening Aug. 24. Aman, who is best known for his dramas “Poz” and “Feeding the Bear” produced at Island City Stage, unveiled the new musical comedy in a staged reading last fall. Tickets should be available soon at EmpireStage.com.

Playwright and producer Ronnie Larsen is offering three shows at Andrews Living Arts (ALA), 23 NW 5th St. in Fort Lauderdale, an intimate space in the up-and-coming FAT Village arts district downtown:

After a successful world premiere at Empire Stage in May, Larsen’s play “Happy Ending” is transferring to ALA for an extended run through July 16. The play explores the relationship between a gay massage therapist and his straight client. Over the course of the session, they open up to each other about the hopes and dreams and, ultimately, their individual searches for a “happy ending” in their lives. New York City-based actor Christopher Moss joins the cast before the production hits the road for a late-summer run in Atlanta.

Larsen’s hilarious “Penis Talk Show,” a comedy show that features three anonymous models who bare it all and answer frank and funny questions from the audience, will be offered monthly on Wednesdays, July 12 and August 16 at 8 p.m., with other dates under consideration.

“Big Bright Star,” a one-man) show created and performed by Chris Harder and directed by Obie Award-winner David Drake (“The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me”), comes to ALA, July 20 through Aug. 6. Harder, also a talented cabaret artist, reveals the sacrifices necessary to achieve stardom in the gay porn industry in this sexy—and revealing—comedy.

Tickets for all three shows are available at RonnieLarsen.com.

“It’s amazing to me that South Florida can support so many shows, especially in the slow summer months,” commented Larsen. “Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors have that critical mass of gay residents who enjoy theater, buy tickets to gay plays and want to see more.”


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