David Bell’s “The Gay Naked Play” will be the first production of a four-show season announced this week by local producer Ronnie Larsen.
The comedy, opening on Wednesday, Aug. 8 at the Foundry in Wilton Manors after successful runs in New York City and London, is the saga of a struggling theater company in Pompano Beach. The company’s dramatic repertoire only attracts 10 theatergoers on a good night and something must change if they are to survive. A wily commercial producer arrives on the scene with a novel solution to their artistic and financial woes—incorporate nude actors into their serious shows.
“I only can only reveal that chaos ensues after that fateful decision,” said Larsen, writer of the Off Broadway hit “Making Porn.” “Think ‘Noises Off’ meets ‘Naked Boys Singing’. It’s just nuts.”
Next, Larsen will produce his first original musical, “Now & Then,” the story of a couple that spans four decades. Larsen wrote the book and enlisted the skills of local composer Dennis Manning for the score.
Larsen said casting this show, which runs Sept. 6 – 30, could prove to be his biggest challenge over a 25-year career: “We introduce the same couple—portrayed by three sets of actors—at different stages of their lives. Not only do they need to be convincing and appear to be the same characters, but one must also sing and play the guitar.”
Manning, also a talented singer and guitarist, will portray one of the mature roles, but Larsen put out a casting call in New York to find just the right cast.
Larsen also warned that, for the first time, one of his plays will not portray explicit sexual situations or incorporate nudity.
“I guess the audience is going to see a more sensitive side of me,” he said with a chuckle.
The third show in the series will be Larsen’s new play, “3 Card Stud,” Nov. 8 – Dec. 2, which he describes as a tale of “three queens in search of an ace.”
Openly gay Shelly and his openly gay son Michael share an apartment in Wilton Manors in the comedy. Life is very peaceful until they both fall for the same guy and things get complicated. The play was workshopped at a live reading earlier this summer and received enthusiastic responses from the audience.
“This play is a joyful reminder that you're never too old or too young to fall in love,” said Larsen, who also promised a return to the “buff” performances that have helped build his South Florida following.
The Off Broadway hit “Afterglow,” will conclude the series, Feb. 14 – March 10 on the Abyss Theatre mainstage. S. Asher Gelman’s drama was extended several times in New York City and Larsen was among the first producers across the country to land the performance rights.
“Afterglow is a complex play about monogamy and the risks involved with an open marriage,” explained Larsen. “It’s a very sexy play, of course, but it also manages to spark a sophisticated conversation about love, lust and commitment…and did I mention there’s a shower on stage?”
All performances are at the Abyss Stage or Foundry Studio, 2304 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors. Individual tickets for “The Gay Naked Play” and “Now & Then” are currently on sale. Tickets for “3 Card Stud” go on sale Aug. 20 and “Afterglow” on Sept. 3. Tickets are $35 each and a subscription package for all four shows is also available for $120 each at RonnieLarsen.com.