Gay marriage gets a big church wedding.
by Donalevan Maines
Photo by Dalton DeHart
A collection of monologues and short plays about gay marriage gets a big church wedding when Celebration Theatre, in collaboration with Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, presents Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays through September 29.
“Some of the plays are hilariously comic, some are poignant, and all are extremely moving as they respond to one of the defining issues of our time—the quest for marriage equality throughout America,” says Ron Jones, who co-directs this regional premiere with Jimmy
“It is not only socially relevant, but vastly entertaining and thought provoking,” he adds. “I find this work to be a confluence of activism and great theater.”
Jones saw Standing on Ceremony last November in New York when Craig Bierko, Mark Consuelos, Polly Draper, Harriet Harris, Beth Leavel, and Richard Thomas said the show’s “I do’s.”
“It was a perfectly enthralling evening,” he recalls, adding that he thought the Houston production should be performed in a church.
“Some gay men and women feel it’s important to be joined in union in the traditional sense,” Jones explains. “The atmosphere and aura of a church sanctuary is very appropriate for the piece.”
By performing Standing on Ceremony in the sanctuary of Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, where a number of civil unions have been performed, the Houston production acknowledges both a “higher power” and state and federal governments. “It has wonderful beams, gorgeous stained-glass windows, and a beautiful altar,” says Jones.
The show was penned by an A-list lineup of writers who have two Pulitzer Prizes, four Obies, an Emmy, and two Tony Award nominations to their credit. Each playwright offers a unique take on love and marriage.
Paul Rudnick wrote two of the show’s funniest pieces: “The Gay Agenda,” in which a middle-aged heterosexual housewife misinterprets a “gay agenda” in everything said by the gay married couple next door, and “My Husband,” which finds a gay bachelor’s mother in panic mode because her son hasn’t found Mr. Right for her to crow about. “I mean, fine, you’re gay,” she prods, “but it’s not enough! Not anymore!”
In “The Revisionist” by Jordan Harrison, two men attempt to write wedding vows that fit a gay couple, while in “This Flight Tonight” by Wendy McCloud, two women have to move their wedding from California (during the Proposition 8 marriage ban) to Des Moines, Iowa, where one will meet her future in-laws.
While Mo Gaffney also mines laughs with a lesbian couple dealing with a wedding planner in “A Traditional Wedding,” several authors take a more somber approach.
Moises Kaufman, whose Theatre Tectonics company created The Laramie Project, conceived a gay man delivering the eulogy for his partner of forty years who died before they could be legally married. “This was performed to perfection in New York by Richard Thomas,” says Jones.
Neil LaBute’s “Strange Fruit” inserts a violent hate crime into a gay couple’s honeymoon.
“On Facebook,” by Doug Wright, is based on an actual online conversation among six people of diverse backgrounds as they voice their opinions about homosexuality and gay marriage.
José Rivera’s “Pablo and Andrew at the Altar of Words” is an actual wedding ceremony in which two men exchange vows.
“The six-actor cast will change on September 13 and a brand-new cast will take over,” says Jones. Among the performers are Marcy Bannor, Elizabeth Marshal Black, Pablo Bracho, Jennifer Doctorovich, Randall Jobe, Terry Jones, and Tamara Siler.
What: Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays presented by Celebration Theatre
When: performances continue until September 29 at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 4 p.m. on Sundays
Where: Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, 2025 West 11th St.
Tickets: $20. Reservations can be made at celebrationtheatrehouston.com. More info: 832/330-5478.
Donalevan Maines also writes about Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical in this issue of OutSmart magazine.