Tim Cummings, Bill Brochtrup and Jenny O’Hara in Daniel;s Husband.
The Fountain Theatre’s acclaimed Southern California Premiere of Daniel’s Husband by Michael McKeever will extend to July 28. Hailed as Critic’s Choice in the LA Times and highlighted as Ovation Award Recommended, the comedy/drama about a gay couple wrestling with the issue of marriage has earned rave reviews and sold-out houses from the night it first opened May 4.
There is the rule of law, and there are the laws of the heart. Which do we follow and when? Daniel and Mitchell are the perfect couple. What isn’t so perfect is that Daniel desperately longs to be married, but Mitchell doesn’t believe in it. Michael McKeever’s funny, passionate and poignant play takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot — or not.
Daniel’s Husband is directed by Simon Levy, starring Bill Brochtrup, Tim Cummings, Jose Fernando, Ed Martin, and Jenny O’Hara.
“CRITIC’S CHOICE…ABSORBING… THE ACTORS ARE WONDERFUL… [A] CROWD PLEASER” — Los Angeles Times
“A PERFECT 10…WITTY, REALISTIC, HEART-RENDERING” — Broadway World
“GO SEE‘DANIEL’S HUSBAND’… THESE ARE SOME OF THE FINEST ACTORS IN L.A.” —KCRW 89.9 FM
“AS CLOSE TO PERFECT AS ONE MIGHT ENVISION…. WRENCHING, REAL, FLAWLESSLY STAGED, STIRRINGLY PERFORMED” — Cultural Weekly
“OUTSTANDING… PERFECTLY SCRIPTED. ACTED AND DIRECTED” — Culver City News
“A REMARKABLE SCRIPT… TRUE LIFE, TRUE FRIENDSHIP AND TRUE DESPAIR” —Discover Hollywood
“SUPERIOR… AN EXCITING PIECE OF QUALITY THEATRE” — Hollywood Revealed
“WOW!… [A] LAUGH-OUT-LOUD-THEN-GET-OUT-YOUR-HANKIES STUNNER… NOT-TO-BE-MISSED” — Stage Scene LA
“EXQUISITELY WRITTEN, SUPERBLY DIRECTED AND EXCELLENTLY PERFORMED” —Will Call for Theatre
“TREMENDOUSLY ENTERTAINING AND WELL-WRITTEN… A TERRIFIC SHOW” — Los Angeles Post
“RELEVANT AND AFFECTING” — Stage Raw
“ABOUT LOVE… the ABSOLUTE BEAUTY of McKeever’s story rings true” — On Stage Los Angeles
“INSISTENTLY MOVING… CRISP AND TIMELY” — People’s World
“A FINE PLAY WITH SOMETHING TO SAY… EXCELLENTLY PERFORMED” — San Diego Gay & Lesbian News
“TWO THUMBS UP” — Carol’s Reviews
“RESONATED LONG AFTER THE FINAL MOMENTS” — Showmag
“RELEVANT AND UNIVERSAL” — Stage and Cinema
“A VERY FINE PRODUCTION” — Talkin’ Broadway
“GUARANTEED TO LEAVE YOU MOVED AND EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED” — Ticket Holders LA
“BREATHTAKING… A TRULY EXCEPTIONAL CAST… TIMELY AND PROVOCATIVE” — Billy Masters.
Jane Anderson reads message from Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs
The beautiful hilltop home of playwright/screenwriter Jane Anderson and author/producer Tess Ayers was the lovely location on April 14 of a special gathering of VIP donors and Fountain Friends supporting our Southern California Premiere of Daniel’s Husband. The funny and poignant new play by Michael McKeever on gay marriage is currently playing at the Fountain Theatre to rave reviews, heralded as Critic’s Choice in the Los Angeles Times.
After enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres prepared by Alligator Pear Catering, the group assembled to hear director Simon Levy speak about his vision for the play.
“There is a commitment to tell these stories on our Fountain stage,” said Jane Anderson, reading a letter from Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs, who was in New York that evening. “Stories of struggle in the gay community as they fight for the most fundamental of all human rights: to be who we are and love whom we choose. In these dark, hateful times, Daniel’s Husband invigorates us with this one simple truth: love is worth fighting for.”
Cast members from Daniel’s Husband then read selections from the play.
The entertaining event, hosted by Jane Anderson and Tess Ayers, was a delightful success. Attending were Oscar Arslanian, Bill Brochtrup, Diana Buckhantz, Denis Cagna, Carrie Chassin, Deborah Culver, Tim Cummings, Ken Debie, Jose Fernando, Richard Gallegos, Jackie Goldberg, Barbara Goodhill, Ron Guzman, Jochen Haber, Karen Kondazian, Simon Levy, Ed Martin, Carlos Medina, Jenny O’Hara, Nick Ullett, Don and Suzanne Zachary, Jason and Allison Zelin.
There is the rule of law, and there are the laws of the heart. Which do we follow and when? The Fountain Theatre presents the funny, passionate and poignant Southern California premiere of Daniel’s Husband, the 2018 off-Broadway hit play by Michael McKeever that was hailed as “compelling” by The New York Times, “emotionally charged” by the Huffington Post and “beautiful and powerful” by the Daily Beast. Opening night is set for May 4, with performances continuing through June 23. Pay-what-you-want previews begin May 1.
A bold commentary on love, commitment and family in our perilous new world, Daniel’s Husband reunites director Simon Levy, who helmed the Fountain’s 2013 award-winning production of The Normal Heart, with the stars of that production, Bill Brochtrup and Tim Cummings. This time, the two play Daniel Bixby and Mitchell Howard — a seemingly perfect couple. What isn’t so perfect is that Daniel desperately longs to be married, but Mitchell doesn’t believe in it. When an unexpected turn of events puts their perfect life in jeopardy, they are thrust into a future where love may not be enough.
“When I first read Daniel’s Husband, I fell in love with the love story and was deeply moved by it,” says Levy. “One of the central questions the play asks is, ‘How far will you go to fight for the one you love?’ The characters wrestle with what it means to be committed to someone, to be ‘married’ — and what’s legally and morally lost if we don’t tie the knot. McKeever’s play may be about gay marriage, but it’s a universal story that reminds us to grab those we love and hold them close. Love really is precious; and when we find someone we truly love, we should fight for them with everything we have.”
Also in the cast are Jenny O’Hara (the Fountain’s Bakersfield Mist) as Daniel’s mother, and Ed Martin and Jose Fernando as the couple’s good friends. The creative team includes set and props designer DeAnne Millais, lighting designer Jennifer Edwards, sound designer Peter Bayne and costume designer Michael Mullen. The production stage manager is Jessica Morataya. Stephen Sachs, Deborah Culver and James Bennett produce for the Fountain Theatre.
Daniel’s Husband premiered at South Florida’s Island City Stage in 2015 before going on to enjoy successful off-Broadway runs at New York City’s Primary Stages in 2017 and again at the Westside Theatre in 2018.
“I practically had to carry my best friend out of the theater in New York,” Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty recently noted in a spring arts preview article that highlighted the Fountain’s production.
Michael McKeever’s other plays include 37 Postcards, Suite Surrender, Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors, Stuff and Melt, and have been produced at Florida Stage (Manalapan), Marin Theatre Company (Marin County), Hudson Stage Company (New York), Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis) and Caldwell Theatre Company (Boca Raton) among many others. His comedies have played in some of the most prestigious theaters in Europe, including Komödie Dresden (Dresden), Och-Teatr (Warsaw) and Theater in der Josefstadt, Kammerspiele (Vienna). He has been honored with an NEA Residency Grant (New Theatre, Miami) and has been a three-time finalist for Humana Fest’s nationally renowned Heideman Award. He is the recipient of five Carbonell Awards; two Silver Palm Awards; and three Florida Individual Artist Fellowships. He is also an award-winning actor and designer. He is a founding member of the award-winning theatre Zoetic Stage in Miami. He resides in South Florida and is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Actors’ Equity.
The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won hundreds of awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include all-star readings of Ms. Smith Goes to Washington and All the President’s Men at Los Angeles City Hall and the inclusion of the Fountain’s Citizen: An American Lyric in the Music Center’s Our L.A. Voices festival at Grand Park. The Fountain’s 2018 productions of The Chosen and Arrival & Departure each enjoyed months-long sold out runs and was named a Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choice.” The company’s recent West Coast premiere of Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cost of Living, was named to the Los Angeles Times’ “Best of 2018” list.
Tim Cummings and Bill Brochtrup in rehearsal for ‘The Normal Heart’ .
by Don Grigware
The Normal Heart hasn’t been done in years. Tell me about the play’s relevance today, from your perspective.
The play mentions gay marriage, which is relevant today: DOMA being struck down, Prop 8 being ruled unconstitutional, more and more states are voting to allow for it. The play also brings up the failures of the health care system, and those are relevant today as well. We’ve yet to see what Obamacare results in, ultimately, but I have hope. The play discusses homophobia, bigotry, closeted gays, politics, conspiracy theories, etc. Those are all relevant now.
Suicide among LGBT youth has been tragically high, of course there’s this putrid Putin/ Russia debacle. The gay-bashing rate in NYC is currently on an alarming rise, which includes the murder of Mark Carson on May 18th, shot directly in the head after his assailant hurled anti-gay slurs at him and his companion. Right in the heart of the West Village. To be honest, I don’t think there will ever be a time this play is not relevant. It’s only a matter of who is brave enough to produce it, as it is not an easy play to do.
What about your character and how he affects the issues at hand? What are the challenges in playing him?
Tim Cummings and Bill Brochtrup, ‘The Normal Heart’ at the Fountain Theatre.
Ned Weeks goes from hesitant participant to full-blown activist and loses nearly everything along the way: his family, his friends, his love, his station in life. Ned is a fighter. A warrior. He does not understand why other people cannot fight back the way he does, and ultimately this alienates him from his community. He will do whatever it takes to wake people up and make them pay attention to this epidemic. He wants pride for the gay community, not shame, not hiding. He wants gay men to think with their hearts and minds, not their pecs and cocks.
The challenges in playing him are that his intensity, passion, Jewish intellectualism, rallying, rants about promiscuity, confrontational nature, and bursts of outrage are not things that can be handled delicately. Yet, we are in this intimate space—so it’s about striking a balance. Where can we hold back? Where do we need to go forward full throttle?
Talk a little about Lisa Pelikan and your working with her – now in 2 plays.
Tim Cummings and Lisa Pelikan in ‘The New Electric Ballroom’
A passionate perfectionist, a questioner, a force, a presence, a joy. With those mesmerizing blue eyes, to boot. Definitely an actor’s actor. Oddly enough, she is also making me take off my clothes in this, just like she did in The New Electric Ballroom. Ha.
Your participation in Ballroom was the best. I really enjoyed your performance. Was that harder to do than Heart, or easier since you are Irish and probably have lived through a lot of similar experiences in Ballroom? (Or am I all wet?)
Thanks, Don. That was a fantastic experience. Yes, I am Irish, but I tend to play Jewish men a lot, too, as I am now. I grew up in New York, surrounded by an abundance of Irish, Irish/Italian, and Jewish heritage. It comes naturally, I suppose.
What I loved about Ballroom was the transformational aspect: my character, Patsy, goes from smelly chubby fishmonger to sexy, slick, pop idol—right before the audience’s eyes. No special effects, no cutaways, no magic. Just good old fashioned in-your-face theatre. Brilliant playwriting and storytelling.
Was that harder than The Normal Heart? I don’t think anything will be harder than The Normal Heart. The role of Ned might be bigger than Hamlet. He barely leaves the action. He never stops talking. He rarely calms down. The level of stage skill—physical prowess, emotional intensity, collaborative endurance—required to play Ned assures he will likely never be conveyed by any actor that is incompetent, lazy, or timid. Larry Kramer was clever to have written Ned the way he did.
Tim Cummings and Carmela Corbett in “Eurydice” at South Coast Rep (2012).
Speak about your writing career.
I write novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, and poetry.
I released a collection called Orphans in the summer of 2011. It’s an idiosyncratic assemblage of short stories, poetry, screenplays, plays, and a film treatment. I wanted to put all the different writing forms together in one weirdly prismatic vessel, and unleash it unrepentantly onto the world. So, I did.
I have a full-length novel called Jake Curve that my agent in NYC is working on. It’s a story of a brilliant little boy who loses his identical twin to a mysterious disappearance, and how he contends with the difficulties of his family falling apart. Ultimately it is a story questioning the validity of family, and whether it is okay to leave them behind if you don’t fit in there.
My most recent play, Bully, is an exploration of this pandemic of teenagers committing suicide for being bullied for being gay. It’s a deeply polemical slaughtering of what masculinity is supposed to mean in today’s day and age. It pays homage to William Golding’s seminal masterpiece about savagery versus civilization, Lord of the Flies, probably my favorite book.
Writing or acting, if you had to make a choice?
Yikes! Can’t I conjoin them and be both? We’ll call it wricting! ‘Hi, I’m Tim, and I’m a wrictor.’
Who are your favorite actors?
Argh, this is a hard one—
Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Kate Winslet, Simon Pegg, Edie Falco, Sean Penn, Viola Davis, Richard Jenkins, Kristin Wiig, Gene Wilder, Jack Lemmon, Gene Hackman, Bryan Cranston, Richard Pryor, Benicio del Toro. I like people with passion. Jack Nicholson, he’s another. Gary Oldman. Cate Blanchett.
Also, many of our brilliant LA locals, like Anne Gee Byrd, Jenny O’Hara, John Getz, Hugo Armstrong. Our town is so ridiculously chockablock with talent. And no, not all of it is in the Fame and Fortune industry—it’s right there, in your face, on our small stages.
Your favorite playwrights? Tracy Letts, Maria Irene Fornes, Enda Walsh, Ruth Margraff, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Albee, Chekhov, O’Neill, Shaw.
Any role you haven’t played yet that you are yearning to play?
Jonny ‘Rooster’ Byron (Jerusalem). Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman). Eddie Carbone (A View From The Bridge). George (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). Thomas in Enda Walsh’s Misterman. Father Brendan Flynn (Doubt). Medea, in some awesome, twisted, all-male version. A one-man version of The Crucible. I’d also like to do The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh.
As I get older, I get to play increasingly interesting and substantial roles. The best is yet to come, I feel. I don’t fear or ward off age in any capacity. Bring it, I say. Look at Judi Dench, for fu**’s sake. Clint Eastwood. Bette White!
Anything else you care to add?
Looking forward to taking part in The Skylight Theatre Company’s honoring of Terrence McNally in a four-day event at the end of September called Salute. I was very honored to be asked. And, of course, I’m looking forward to The Normal Heart opening, and audiences experiencing it for its beauty and intensity. I hope it encourages conversations, think-tanks, and outrage.
Don Grigware writes his own blog and writes for Broadway World.
The Normal Heart Sept 21 – Nov 3 (323) 663-1525MORE