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December 03, 2010

Evenings Out

Paul Rudnick skewers stereotypes in a quartet of tales

Cleveland Heights--After telling the most fabulous story ever told in Valhalla, while telling Jeffrey that I hate Hamlet, a new century is finally coming to northeast Ohio.

Yes, that was a recitation of the titles of most of Paul Rudnick’s plays. It seemed egregious to add in the screenplays Addams Family Values, In & Out, Isn’t She Great, Marci X and The Stepford Wives. Or the books Social Disease, I’ll Take It, I Shudder and Other Reactions to Life, Death and New Jersey, Extasy Club or If You Ask Me: The Collected Columns of America’s Most Beloved and Irresponsible Critic, a collection of his Premiere magazine columns penned under the pseudonym Libby Gelman-Waxner.

Suffice it to say, Rudnick is one of the best humor writers in America today, and his collection of four one-acts, The New Century, is coming to Cleveland Heights’ Dobama Theater for a month-long run from December 9 to January 9.

The first of the four tales is “Pride and Joy,” the story of monologist Helene Nadler, so very similar to Rudnick’s own mother and the character of Hedy Reckler in his novel I’ll Take It.

She has stood up to speak at her first trip to the Parents of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, the Transgendered, the Questioning, the Curious, the Creatively Concerned and Others of Massapequa, New York. She is a proud mother of three children, all somewhere in the LGBTQCCCO spectrum.

In the second story, we meet “Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach,” a flagrant gay man of a certain age who hosts a cable TV show with his young beefcake appetizer Shane. He was run out of New York City on a rail by the younger gay men, who viewed Mr. Charles’ brand of camp as a chilling reminder of earlier, more dangerous days.

After that, it’s “Crafty” with Barbara Ellen, a Midwesterner who is talking to a business group about crafting, scrapbooking and making tuxedo toaster cozies. Of course, the pain she feels over her son’s AIDS-related death comes out, along with her love of Redbook magazine.

The various characters come together for the final, titular short piece, which brings the trio to the maternity ward of a Manhattan hospital, where they discuss their pasts and look towards their futures in, well, the new century.

The New Century stars Jean Kauffman as Helene, Caitlin Lewins as Joann, introduced in the last short, Molly McGinnis as Barbara Ellen, Greg Violand as Mr. Charles and Steven J. West as Shane. Oh, and West (as Shane) gets naked, so even if you don’t enjoy great humor, there’s that.

The show is directed by the supremely capable Scott Plate, who has proven himself both onstage and backstage, having directed Take Me Out, about a gay baseball player coming out, and starring as the eponymous character in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde.

Tickets are $25, $23 for seniors on Fridays and Saturdays. On Thursdays and Sundays, it’s $20, $18 for seniors, and tickets to the December 9 preview are only $10, as are all student tickets.

Dobama Theater is now located at 2340 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights--a former YMCA across a pedestrian bridge from the Heights main library--but can still be reached online at or by phone at 216-9323396.




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