Michael McKeever and Stuart Meltzer are used to working together.
The writer/actor and director are co-founders of the critically-successful, award-winning Zoetic Stage in residence at Miami’s Arsht Center and they’ve collaborated on more productions of McKeever’s plays than they can count. They’re also a couple, together for 17 years and legally married for four.
“Stuart’s one of my favorite collaborators…because he knows me so well, he calls me on my tricks, when I’m taking short cuts or the easy way, which is as a writer I do sometimes,” explained McKeever. “As a writer that’s something you want, because we know each other so well, we bring that to the rehearsal hall.”
The dramatic duo, however, find themselves in a new situation with the production of McKeever’s “Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors,” opening this weekend at the West Boca Theatre Co. at Levis Jewish Community Center in Boca Raton.
The premiere production closed six months before McKeever met his future husband. It’s one of the few plays McKeever has written that didn’t benefit from the feedback and unique insight Meltzer has developed over the years.
“I certainly see a trajectory of where Michael was 17 years ago, when the play was in development,” said Meltzer, “and where he is now as an artist and a writer and a man. He was unafraid to take chances in that part of his career. He takes chances now, but he can afford to.”
McKeever’s plays have been produced around the world, racking up awards and rave reviews. While he often writes about LGBTQ characters and the gay experience, this play is noticeably different.
“Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors” is the story of a man who, diagnosed with a terminal illness, hits the road seeking some meaning to his life. Charlie Cox accidentally stumbles upon the one great love of his life at a broken-down motel in the middle of nowhere. Soon after, fireworks ensue as Love and Death, personified with glorious irreverence, battle for his soul.
McKeever insists that sometimes all it takes is a little death to show us how to live and notes that despite all the talk of mortality and meaning, the play really is a touching, sometimes outrageous comedy.
“The play is successful and has been successful around the world,” said Meltzer. “My job is to interpret it with the elements that I have. Our elements are a little more humble, so we rely on physical comedy and present [Michael’s] beautiful language.”
Meltzer added, “One thing that Michael has been pretty spectacular at is his plays are so open to all audiences – gay, straight, older, younger, whatever religious denomination – it’s also an American story, right here, right now, today. It’s about choices, [whether] to live fatalistically or embrace every day of our life.”
West Boca Theatre Co. presents Michael McKeever’s “Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors,” directed by Stuart Meltzer, Dec. 5 – 22 at the Levis Jewish Community Center Sandler Center, 21050 95th Ave. South in Boca Raton. Tickets are $30 at LevisJCC.org/BoxOffice.