Home / CULTURE / Casts announced for Pride Films & Plays’ Gay Play Weekend for Gentle Passage by Paul Elliott and Who Killed Joan Crawford? by Michael Leeds

Casts announced for Pride Films & Plays’ Gay Play Weekend for Gentle Passage by Paul Elliott and Who Killed Joan Crawford? by Michael Leeds

Who Killed Joan Crawford 1

Chicago, IL – Pride Films and Plays? Gay Play Weekend is one of the most exciting events for LGBT theater lovers, as five great new scripts are brought to life in enhanced staged readings directed by Chicago?s top directors.?The first three years of the contest had produced finalists and award winners like At The Flash by Sean Chandler and David Leeper, Under A Rainbow Flag by Leo Schwartz, Learn to Be Latina by Enrique Urueta, and Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead by Martin Casella.

This year, four new plays and one new musical will be staged by Larry Baker, Eric Hoff, Katherine Siegal, and PFP Ensemble Members John Nasca and Derek Van Barham.??The pieces readings? include some blocking, technical elements, suggested costuming, and ? in the case of the musical The View UpStairs ?- a full band led by musical director Robert Ollis.

Casting for two of those shows can now be announced.

Director Larry Baker has announced the cast of Gentle Passage with PFP ensemble members Tom Chiola as Joseph and Carmen Molina as Anna.

John Nasca, Artistic Associate of PFP and Director of Who Killed Joan Crawford? is pleased to announce his cast with fellow Artistic Associate of PFP, Patrick Rybarczyk as Stewart Fry and PFP ensemble member David Besky as Leo Lawrence. Others in the cast include: Michael Hampton (Harvey Gold), Michael Barr (Gene Harlow) and Julian Hestor (David Hoch).

Tickets for each show are $10 and can be purchased at www.brownpapertickets.com.

The performance schedule for the weekend is:

  • Friday, May 9 at 7pm ? The View UpStairs by Max Vernon
  • Saturday, May 10 at 2pm ? Michelangelo and Tommaso by James Rosenfield
  • Saturday, May 10 at 7pm ? Who Killed Joan Crawford?? by Michael Leeds
  • Sunday, May 11 at 11am ? The Book of Andy by Michael J. Mejia
  • Sunday, May 11 at 3pm ? Gentle Passage by Paul Elliott

Here are synopses of all five shows in the weekend, along with bios of the authors and directors for the weekend.

The View UpStairs by Max Vernon; directed by Eric Hoff?

The View UpStairs is an original musical inspired by the UpStairs Lounge Fire- a little known arson attack that occurred in 1973 in New Orleans. To this day it remains the worst massacre in US LGBT history.

Max Vernon is a composer/lyricist, playwright, and performer based out of NYC. His work has been praised in New York Magazine, The New Yorker, W, Out Magazine, among others. His musicals include Wired (Ars Nova, Eugene O?Neill Conference Finalist, NAMT finalist) The View UpStairs (NYU-Tisch, Two River Theater, Joe?s Pub, Weston New Musical Award Nominee), and Sugarbaby (Joe?s Pub). He is a 2013-2014 Dramatist Guild Theater Fellow.

Eric Hoff is an Artistic Associate with About Face Theatre, credits include Off-Broadway at Barrow Street Theatre and 59E59. Chicago credits include Steppenwolf Garage and Red Tape Theatre. He has developed new plays at Goodman, New York Theatre Workshop and NYU.

Michelangelo and Tommaso by James Rosenfield; directed by Katherine Siegel?

Genius, passion, and the bloodthirsty Inquisition collide and explode in James Rosenfield?s MICHELANGELO AND TOMMASO. The Catholic Church?s whitewash of the lifelong affair of Michelangelo and the Roman nobleman Tommaso de Cavalieri included a fictional biography, the burning of private papers, and the threat of heresy, until Tommaso finally fought back, rebelling against and the murdering of Pope Paul IV.

James Rosenfield has been writing since 1980, and has published two plays and two novels; has had produced over 20 plays, five of them off off Broadway; and placed in 30 contests, among them the Shubert Playwright in Residence for the University of Colorado, the New York Screenwriting contest, and playwright in residence for Playwrites Rep, a New York based feminist group.

Katherine Siegel is a graduate of the University of Miami, has directed at Gorilla Tango, Three Brothers and Clockwise. Co-founder and co-Artistic Director at Lost Girls Theatre. www.KatherineSiegel.com.

Who Killed Joan Crawford? by Michael Leeds; directed by John Nasca?

On a dark stormy night, five men arrive at a cabin for a surprise birthday party. ?Each guest is dressed as the birthday boy?s favorite actress, Joan Crawford?in one of her signature roles. ?The ?Joans? begin drinking and dishing until dark secrets emerge and soon there?s one Joan less? and then another? and.. Who Killed Joan Crawford?

Michael Leeds wrote and directed Swinging On A Star, (Tony nomination Best Musical). ?His many directing credits include Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, (Drama Desk nomination Best Director/Best Choreographer) and the award-winning European Premiere of Arthur Miller?s Playing For Time. In addition to writing for the theatre, Michael co-wrote the films, The Simian Line starring William Hurt, and The Last Film Festival starring Dennis Hopper. He is currently Associate Artistic Director of South Florida?s Island City Stage.

John Nasca is a PFP Artistic Associate and co-founder and Artistic Director of Glitterati Productions. Credits include Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood, Beautiful Thing and Gypsy. www.glitteratiproductions.com/JohnNasca.html.

The Book of Andy by Michael J. Mejia; directed by Derek Van Barham

After Andy responds I don?t know to a marriage proposal, he visits his exes to find what went wrong with them. When he finds they?re thriving without him, Andy lies and tells them he?s dying.

Michael J. Mejia is a known and produced playwright from Kern County, California.?After receiving BA?s in English and Theatre from Cal-State Bakersfield, he received his MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts, Asia, in Singapore. His plays explore Mexican/American, Gay and Christian themes.

Derek Van Barham is a PFP Artistic Associate and Literary Manager for Ruckus Theatre. He directed Songs from an Unmade Bed for PFP. Other credits include, National Pastime Theatre, BoHo Theatre, Red Tape Theatre and The Island Theatre.

Gentle Passage by Paul Elliott; directed by Larry Baker?

Paul Elliott?s Gentle Passage was written to expose the actual childhood his husband, Ed, survived. While the premise of the play is fiction and names have been changed,the story is entirely true.

As a published playwright with over 700 productions to date, Paul Elliott?s new comedy, Exit Laughing, the 2013 AACT PlayFest winner premiered at the historic Landers Theater and will be opening in New York this spring. His first novel, The Riverton Project, is represented by WME. Gentle Passage was written as a birthday present for his husband.

Larry Baker is making his directorial debut and has worked behind the scenes in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Europe and the high seas. He did the national tours of Jersey Boys and Elaine Stritch at Liberty and the European tour of 42nd Street.

About Pride Films and Plays

Utilizing stories with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters or themes, Pride Films and Plays develops powerful theatrics that speak for the community and are essential viewing for all audiences.

Pride Films and Plays fosters excellence in writing for the stage and screen by connecting our Writers Network with our Artistic Ensemble and accelerating the process of moving important scripts from development to full production. When ready, these excellent works are then offered to theaters across the country.

Our season consists of three full productions ? a world premiere, a Chicago premiere, and a reinvigorated classic ? along with three weekend festivals of new ?enhanced staged readings.?

Writers are invited to join our Writers Network when they are named a finalist in our contests – the Great Gay Play Contest, Women?s Work (for plays and screenplays with lesbian characters or themes, written by women), and the Great Gay Screenplay Contest.? The finalists earn cash prizes, and their plays performed as ?enhanced staged readings? which include movement, blocking, and technical elements in the 150 Hoover-Leppen Theater in Center on Halsted.

The 2011 Great Gay Play Contest winner, Learn To Be Latina by Enrique Urueta, has had multiple regional productions, and the 2012 winner At The Flash by Sean Chandler and David Leeper was Jeff-recommended in Chicago, a hit in LA, and will be seen in Dublin next spring. Under A Rainbow Flag by Leo Schwartz, a finalist in last year?s contest, had its world premiere in Chicago this spring and won the Jeff Award for Best New Work and Best Musical Production. And the 2013 contest winner Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead by Martin Casella had a successful run in the 150 seat thrust stage at Stage 773.

In addition to our forward thinking play development, we feel strongly that we without knowledge of our past, we cannot truly know our way. Thus we have produced 20th Anniversary productions of The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me by David Drake and Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey and Lillian Hellman?s great drama The Children?s Hour.

Songs From An Unmade Bed through April 27 at Apollo Studio Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln.
Jeff Recommended!

TILL, a new musical by Leo Schwartz, April 21 at Stage 773

Helen’s Necklace, a staged reading for International Voices Project at Victory Gardens, April 22

At The Flash has one pre-Dublin performance in Chicago April 29.
Gay Play Weekend, May 9 to 11, Pride Films and Plays, Chicago
Vermont Pride Theater at Chandler July 18 – 27.
Who Killed Joan Crawford (070)
? L to R – Julian Hester, David Besky, Michael Hampton, Michael Barr and Patrick Rybarczyk in Who Killed Joan Crawford?