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 2019-10-16
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



by Lauren Emily Whalen

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Harvey Fierstein

At: The Broadway at Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway. Tickets: $25-40; . Runs through: Sept. 29

They come to a small resort in the Catskills, bringing suitcases full of dresses, wigs and makeup. It's the early 1960s, and they've done everything right: holding down stable jobs, marrying and having children and grandchildren. They don't ask for much, just the odd weekend where they can feel comfortable being exactly who they are.

The characters in Harvey Fierstein's Casa Valentina are men who identify as straight and cisgender, and who always thought they were alone in their proclivities for dressing and acting as women. Based on true events, Fierstein's 2014 play chronicles 24 hours in the lives of several "normal" men who encounter a threat to their safe haven. Pride Films and Plays' Chicago premiere is a charming yet devastating exploration of the meaning of gender and its effect on identity in a conservative, turbulent time in America.

Jonathan ( Micah Kronlokken ) is new to the Casa Valentina resort, but he's always known he was also Miranda. He finds solace in the group of "self-made women" who are delighted to make him over and share their own stories, especially George/Valentina ( Patrick Byrnes ) who co-owns the resort with his supportive wife Rita ( Nicholia Q. Aguirre ). But when Charlotte ( Danne W. Taylor ), a West Coast legend in this small but tight-knit sorority, arrives with a plan to go public, the guests must decide between so-called legitimacy and tightly guarded privacy.

Fierstein's script contains the playwright and performer's trademark humor, emphasizing moments of solidarity in shared narratives and simple joy in putting on the perfect shade of red lipstick. While the guests band together and make each other laugh, they're also divided on issues like queerness: Valentina herself insists that the presence of "homosexuals" would sully the purity of the resort, while Terry ( Kingsley Day ) feels loyal to the gay men who welcomed her when no one else did. And when Charlotte reveals a secret about Amy ( Robert Koon ), a prominent judge, husband and grandfather in her everyday life, sanctity becomes chaos. Fierstein perfectly balances the sweetness of being fully understood with the fright of a carefully constructed faÞade finally breaking.

Director Michael D. Graham navigates the complex story of Casa Valentina with skill, though he's far stronger with the one-on-one scenes than those when the whole ensemble is onstage. ( The play's climactic moment is a bit busy staging-wise, and the audience is unsure where exactly to focus. ) Actor standouts include Kronlokken's achingly vulnerable Jonathan, Josh Marshall's powder keg Gloria and Byrnes' Valentina, whose gradual loss of control over her personal Eden is both frustrating and heartbreaking to watch. For those who want to learn about a little-known facet of gender identity history, Pride Films and Plays' latest is a must.

facebook twitter pin it 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.


Gay News

A Man of No Importance at Pride Films and Plays through Nov. 10 2019-10-22 - Pride Films and Plays will stage the first Chicago production in more than a decade of A Man of No Importance, the heartwarming ...

Gay News

Critics Picks 2019-10-22 - The Color Purple, Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace, through Nov. 3—Director Lili-Anne Brown allows this speedy musical adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning ...

Gay News

Remy Bumppo, Court lead Jeff Awards, Teatro Vista honored 2019-10-22 - CHICAGO, IL - The 51st Annual Jeff Awards Ceremony took place on October 21, 2019, during a spirited evening at Drury Lane Oakbrook. ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Sunset Boulevard 2019-10-20 - Authors: Andrew Lloyd Webber ( music ); Don Black & Christopher Hampton ( book/lyrics ) At: Porchlight Music Theatre @ Ruth Page Center, ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Effect 2019-10-20 - Playwright: Lucy Prebble At: Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 Berenice Ave. Tickets:; $35. Runs through: Nov. 23 It doesn't take a ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Exquisita Agonia 2019-10-20 - Playwright: Nilo Cruz At: Aguijon Theatre, 2707 N. Laramie Ave. Tickets: . Price: $15-30. Runs through: Nov. 24 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross defined ...

Gay News

Ravinia president/CEO leaving post in 2020 2019-10-19 - Ravinia President and CEO Well Kauffman announced Oct. 19 that he will depart the festival upon completing his 20th anniversary year at its ...

Gay News

Story Jam features local celebs in a show to raise money for immigrant youth 2019-10-18 - Chicago, IL November 17th, 2019—Story Jam, a show that is part live-lit and part music concert combining storytellers and songwriters with a rocking ...

Gay News

Cirque du Soleil names cast for holiday production at Chicago Theatre 2019-10-17 - Chicago, IL ( October 16, 2019 ) — Cirque du Soleil and The Madison Square Garden Company ( NYSE: MSG ) announced today ...

Gay News

Firebrand Theatre to present Always… Patsy Cline 2019-10-17 - By Ted Swindley Directed by Brigitte Ditmars. Musical Direction by Andra Velis Simon. November 16 — December 15, 2019 at The Den Theatre ...


Copyright © 2019 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.







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 publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.