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The Temperamentals

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Gay plays, as they've proliferated and mainstreamed over the last 10 years, tend to address relationships between lovers, friends, and family. Plays by and about gay men often delve into sexual conquests and disappointments; the more exploitative ones use nudity to draw audiences and encourage a prurient, if fun, spectatorial pleasure. Plays by lesbians, which thanks to gender discrimination remain relatively fewer than those produced by or about gay men, tend to be more relationally based, dwelling on family dynamics and the domestic sphere.

I'm overstating grossly here to underline how refreshing it is to see a play about gay (or "homophile") activism in the 1950s as the focus of an evening at the theatre. Written by Jon Marans, The Temperamentals tells the story of Harry Hay, considered by many historians to be the father of the U.S. homophile movement, who doggedly persuaded men to sign the manifesto of what he called The Mattachine Society. The Society was named after a troupe of medieval dancers who only appeared publicly in masks, an apt metaphor for closeted homosexuals of the '50s. Hay was the first to publicly call gays and lesbians a "minority" and to argue for homosexual rights along the lines of what would soon become the civil rights movement.

As an event happy to succeed by telling its important story, this production's one acquiescence to commercial pressure is director Jonathan Silverstein's casting of Michael Urie (of tv's Ugly Betty fame) in one of the supporting roles. Although some of his tv character's flaming gestures and flamboyant sarcasm seeps into his performance as Rudi Gernreich, Harry Hay's young Viennese-Jewish clothing designer boyfriend, Urie's acting is subtle, generous, and sincere, bringing depth and intimacy to the complicated exchanges between the two lovers.

Glee Reinvents Itself

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I will never forget watching last season's finale with a group of friends and strangers, and our communal gasp as Lea Michelle opened the curtain at sectionals with "Don't Rain on My Parade." I have been addicted to Glee since the show's pilot episode came out a year ago. Singing along with the soundtrack (that I ran out to purchase the day it was released), Glee has put me and fellow viewers back into a high school state-of-mind. The shocking part: this time we like it!  

With the arrival of last week's season premiere, this dedicated Gleek was disappointed. All of my joys from last season's finale were dismantled in the first 15 minutes. And what happened to the actual singing -- minus auto-tune?  After gritting my teeth through an episode more packed with plot changes than the final season of Buffy, I was skeptical that Jane Lynch's Vogue video could bring me an extra boost of energy for the drive home.

My reaction when it started? FIERCE!