Gay theater festival returns to Philadelphia for third year

By Troy Petenbrink
August 3, 2013 8:23 AM |

Philadelphia will host the third annual GayFest!, a festival of LGBT theater, Aug. 6 to 24, at various theaters throughout the city. Much expanded from previous years, the festival is coordinated by Quince Productions and is the only LGBT theater festival in Philadelphia.

This year’s GayFest! will take place at three theaters: Plays & Players (Skinner Studio), Second Stage at the Adrienne, and the Playground at the Adrienne, with additional performances at Tabu Upstairs Lounge. It will feature four mainstage plays, including two world premieres and two Philadelphia premieres, as well as staged readings of new plays and a variety of one-night stands by performers representing the diversity of the LGBT performance community, for a total of almost 50 performances.

GayFest! will open with a two-night performance of Cirque du Gay - Exposed, a visiting production from Kansas City, Mo., making its first Philadelphia appearance. Two gay clowns, Dennis Porter and Peyton Westfall, present a rainbow of entertainment and sexy, happy fun, sharing music, muscle and magic. Cirque du Gay was selected as the best of the best in Kansas City’s Fringe Festival for two years running.

Opening night will feature a reception at Plays & Players and after-party with entertainment at Tabu.

Gray by Daniel Talbott is a world premiere specially commissioned for the festival. Talbott created Mike and Seth for GayFest! 2012, and his Slipping was featured in GayFest! 2011. Quince is immensely pleased to be continuing its relationship with Talbott, a major new voice. Artistic director of New York’s Rising Phoenix Rep, Talbott marks a departure from the ultra-contemporary as Gray focuses on two young whalers in Monterey, Calif., in the mid-19th century and a young "woman of the streets" who becomes intriguingly involved in their life and love. It is directed by Rich Rubin.

Another world premiere, Sarah Pappalardo’s Cold takes place on a frigid Chicago night, as Linda, a quiet, stoic butch holds a gun to her head in her once-legendary, now-empty lesbian dive bar. Forced to sell her struggling bar, Linda's fateful night is interrupted by the bar's wayward co-owner as well as a young trans man and his lesbian ex as they challenge what's worth holding onto and what to leave behind. This new play was part of the GayFest! staged reading series in 2012 and now gets its world premiere production. It is directed by William Steinberger.

The Philadelphia premiere of Paul Rudnick's The New Century is expected to draw large audiences. In this comedy, we see a Long Island matron and "supermom" to three LGBT children; Mr. Charles, currently of Palm Beach, who's been booted out of New York for being too gay, and his dim (if cute) assistant Shane; and Barbara Ellen, a Midwestern woman obsessed with crafts who finds life’s meaning through felt and glue after losing her gay son. First they tell their hilarious stories, then they all come together for an uproarious finale. It is directed by Rich Rubin.

Also makig its Philadelphia premiere is The Homosexuals by Philip Dawkins. Told in reverse order, from 2010 to 2000, this very funny and touching play examines the fears, doubts and hopes faced by gay men in the first decade of the 21st century. It is directed by Sarah J. Gafgen.

In addition to the runs of the four main plays, over a dozen other performances are scheduled.

GayFest! will feature new Bloody Mary Brunch and happy hour staged readings at Tabu Upstairs Lounge. There will be two brunch-hour staged readings and one happy hour, all featuring new LGBT plays, including an exciting new play by noted New York playwright Kathleen Warnock leading off the series on Sunday, Aug. 11. A free drink will be included in the token admission price.

Quince will also present a series of 10 one-night performances.

A complete schedule and information on tickets can be found online at or by calling (215) 627-1088.

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