Del Shores' sequel to his wildly successful cult hit Sordid Lives will be shown at Center on Halsted on Sunday, Sept. 17. The new film, A Very Sordid Wedding, is already a runaway success, with 25 sold-out premiere events since it opened in Palm Springs earlier this year. It reunites the cast from the original story, which Shores has turned into a successful play, movie and TV series.
The film brings back an all-star ensemble cast of characters rooted in the Southern Baptist world of Winters, Texas, in the weeks following the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage equality ruling. Not everyone there is ready to accept it.
On opening night at the Roxie, there will be a question-and-answer session after the film, with creator Del Shores, producer Emerson Collins, and actors Rosemary Alexander, Newell Alexander, and Blake McIver. On Sept. 9, only Shores and the Alexanders will be at the Roxie for the Q&A.
"Sordid Lives," Del Shores' fourth play, opened in Los Angeles in 1996. He then wrote and directed the film adaption. "Sordid Lives: The Series," a 12-episode TV series, premiered on MTV's Logo network in 2008.
In a telephone interview, Shores said that since the original film was released, "People have literally been banging down my door asking for more Sordid Lives." Many of Shores' LGBT fans told the director that they came out to their families by showing them Sordid Lives, "because the humor helped them share their own story.
"Bringing these beloved characters up to 2015 to face the reality of marriage equality allowed me to contrast affirming churches with the hypocritical bigotry that is still being spewed from pulpits represented by the 'Anti-Equality Rally' in the film," Shores said.
Shores has been thrilled with "overwhelming" response to the new film. "It's exciting to know that fans are loving this final chapter, and that new fans are joining us for the first time."
The ensemble cast includes 32 actors, led by Bonnie Bedelia ( Parenthood ), Caroline Rhea ( Sabrina, the Teenage Witch ), Dale Dickey ( Winter's Bone ), Leslie Jordan ( Will & Grace ), with cast members from the original Sordid Lives film Newell Alexander ( August: Osage County ), Rosemary Alexander, Kirk Geiger, Sarah Hunley, Lorna Scott ( Wanted ) and Ann Walker.
New additions to the Sordid Lives world include Emerson Collins ( The People's Couch ), Levi Kreis ( Million Dollar Quartet ), Carole Cook ( Sixteen Candles ), Alec Mapa ( Ugly Betty ), Aleks Paunovic ( Van Helsing ), Katherine Bailess ( Hit the Floor ) and a cameo from Whoopi Goldberg.
Collins, also a producer, added in a written statement, "Our film, exploring the impact of religious bigotry and religious exemption laws, couldn't have come at a more timely moment in our history. The current administration continues to target LGBTQ people. At the same time, as we've traveled the country with the film, one of the most rewarding responses we've heard is how much audiences are enjoying the opportunity to laugh together during our film before it delivers a powerful message."
As the original film dealt with coming out in a conservative Southern world, A Very Sordid Wedding "explores the questions, bigotry and the fallout of what happens when gay marriage comes to communities and families that are not quite ready to accept it," Collins added.
Bigoted "religious freedom," marriage equality and cultural acceptance are all explored, "with Shores' trademark approach to using comedy and his much-beloved characters to deal with these important current social issues and the very real process of accepting your family for who they are instead of who you want them to be," Collins said.
There will be screening of the film A Very Sordid Wedding on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 4 and 6:30 p.m. at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St.
This article originally appeared in the Bay Area Reporter.