Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-08-26
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Camping it up
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
2013-03-06

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


There literally is a bear-suit costume in The New Colony's new World War II gay drama The Bear Suit of Happiness, now playing at the DANK Haus. So any hairy gay men carrying a few extra pounds who self-identify as "bears" should know that the show isn't per se about their subset of the LGBT community.

"We definitely thought about that," laughed Evan Linder, the author of Bear Suit and the newly appointed co-artistic director of The New Colony. "It's an actual bear suit on stage."

Linder's show title is a play on the Declaration of Independence expression "the pursuit of happiness," and it figures into his drama about how theatrical drag actually played a part in World War II USO shows to entertain the troops.

"The amazing thing was that it was sanctioned by the army and encouraged," said Linder, who did research to create Bear Suit by reading books like A Renegade History of the United States and Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II. "They would enlist soldiers to appear in these shows and give them patterns to turn their army fatigues into ball gowns," he added.

Like most of the work created by The New Colony, the Bear Suit started development more than a year ago with actors doing sessions of improvisation to create the characters and to come up with a possible scenario to tie with the history. Linder then spend about seven months writing the piece, focusing it on a fictional young soldier named Woody who has a violent past, but is confronted with the possibility of leading a queer life when he gets cast in a show and encounters other gay men.

"He just sees them in rehearsal with their guards down and he sees them laughing and joking and being witty in ways that he feels kind of a part of him, but that he's never been able to express," Linder said. "He has to wade through this and say, 'I think that's who I am, too.'"

By pure coincidence, Bear Suit of Happiness isn't the only gay World War II theater piece around. Pride Films and Plays is presenting the world premiere musical Under a Rainbow Flag at The Main Stage of Profiles Theatre later this month, and The New Colony has teamed up with that company to do some pre-publicity events for both their shows. Also, the acclaimed 2010 off-Broadway musical Yank! A WWII Love Story was recently made available for regional licensing, so there's even more potential for theater on gay relationships from the 1940s on the horizon.

"I very specifically waited to read Yank! until about three weeks ago just because I was writing something so similar," said Linder, a friend of David Zellnik who wrote the book and lyrics to that musical. "We joked that we might have to do a gay World War II rep company."

The Bear Suit of Happiness continues through Saturday, March 30, at the DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western Ave. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $20; visit www.thenewcolony.org .

Conversion cantata?

Out writer-actor Rob Anderson (Steamwerkz The Musical) grew up in a very Republican and socially conservative family in New Jersey and didn't come out until he had moved away from home. If he had come out when he was in high school, Anderson wondered if his parents might have tried sending him to a religious-based reparative therapy program.

"I've always been interested and found it funny, but also definitely sad, that these conversion programs exist," said Anderson, the playwright and lyricist of Straight Camp: A New Musical which starts March 7 at iO Chicago Theater. "I thought it would make a very interesting musical comedy."

In writing the show with composer Mike Malarkey, Anderson drew his inspiration in part from books on the subject and the 1999 reparative therapy comedy film But I'm a Cheerleader.

"The main character, Whit, is a musical theater prodigy from his small town high school, so he sees things through this lens of Broadway," said Anderson noting that decision allowed him and Malarkey to write songs that affectionately spoof well-known musicals as Whit is sent away to a Texan gay-to-straight camp called "Mount Saint Cleanliness" run by the effeminate headmaster, Pastor Father.

"When I was writing this show, I wanted the characters to be as diverse as possible, and not necessarily to be gay stereotypes, but outcasts," Anderson said.

As part of his research, Anderson also emailed a number conversion therapy programs in the guise of a questioning teenager.

"They really like to recruit younger, more impressionable men and women," said Anderson, noting how the New Jersey Jewish-based Jonah Institute for Gender Affirmation was particularly aggressive with their outreach.

Luckily, Anderson said his mother and stepfather have come around to be more accepting of him as gay and he's pleased to see how far they have come—particularly since his mother did see him showing plenty of skin in Steamwerkz The Musical at the Annoyance Theatre last year.

"She hugged all the cast members and she loved it," Anderson said. "She still talks about it—so that just shows how far our relationship has come."

Straight Camp: A New Musical plays 8 p.m. Thursdays through April 11 at iO Chicago Theater, 3541 N. Clark St. Tickets are $12 general admission; call 773-880-0199 or visit www.ioimprov.com/chicago.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Broadway in Chicago turns 15 in the park 2015-08-28
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Fringe options 2015-08-26
THEATER REVIEW Patchwork Drifter 2015-08-26
THEATER REVIEW Chicago's Role in the Crime of the Century 2015-08-26
Upcoming: Fashion Fest; 'Downton' exhibit; Jeff Awards; Haymarket reading 2015-08-26
Upcoming: Sondheim honored; Play marks 10th Katrina anniversary 2015-08-26
Celebrate with caution 2015-08-25
Bryan Safi has it made in the 'Shade' 2015-08-25
Theater Spotlight on Bad Jews; Critics' Picks 2015-08-25
THEATER REVIEW The Rise and Fall of Little Voice 2015-08-25
THEATER REVIEW Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight 2015-08-25
Theater in Chicago: Opening soon and now on stage 2015-08-25
Poet Kit Yan performs Queer Heartache at Chicago Fringe 2015-08-21
Jeff Awards Equity nominations honor 2014-2015 productions 2015-08-21
The Chicago Fringe Festival announce times, places 2015-08-19
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT SNL dreams 2015-08-19
THEATER REVIEW Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities 2015-08-19
THEATER REVIEW The Dueling Gentlemen 2015-08-19
THEATER REVIEW The History of Alcohol in Chicago: A Drinker's Guide 2015-08-19
Theater Spotlight, Critics' Picks 2015-08-19
Upcoming: Cho to marry couples; Chicago Fashion Fest; Horror-film fest 2015-08-18
THEATER REVIEW Art 2015-08-18
Theater in Chicago: Now on stage and opening soon 2015-08-18
Nightspots calendar: The Big To Do 2015-08-12
Shakespeare in the Parks thru Aug. 16 2015-08-12
THEATER REVIEW Stanley in the Name of Love 2015-08-12
THEATER REVIEW We Gotta Bingo! 2015-08-12
THEATER REVIEW Zelda at the Oasis 2015-08-12
OUTspoken! marks one year with rousing stories 2015-08-12
THEATER REVIEW The Boy from Oz 2015-08-12
Theater spotlight and Critics' Picks 2015-08-12
Upcoming: Dancing Fest; Chicago Fringe; Treasure Island; Bette; WildClaw 2015-08-12
Vives Q series continues with second installment 2015-08-11
Theater in Chicago: Now on stage and soon to open 2015-08-11
Griffin Theatre 2015-16 Season includes Midwest and Chicago premiere 2015-08-06
THEATER REVIEW The Summer of Daisy Fay 2015-08-05
THEATER REVIEW Two Gentlemen of Verona 2015-08-05
THEATER REVIEW Last Train to Nibroc 2015-08-05
Theater Spotlight and Critics' Picks 2015-08-05
THEATER REVIEW Pippin 2015-08-05
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.