Went to see a show Wednesday night. I wouldn’t have even known about it if not for our theee-AY-der friends. They’re all connected and what not and know all the theee-AY-der folk involved in all the shows, and we hear tell. Hear that twang coming out of me right chyere? That’s cause we saw a show set in a small town in Georgia where the KKK is alive and well, and the cocks crow 24 hours a day. And by cocks, I’m referring to roosters though I can see how you might have gotten confused and thought I was still talking about members of the KKK.
Sounds like a great show already, don’t it?
Southern Comfort is a documentary that won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2001, and one of our theater locals here in New Jersey snatched up the rights to bring it to the stage. It’s the true story of Robert Eads, a transgendered man who finds his own chosen family in rural Georgia. The show, both on screen and on stage, follows Robert and his friends as they live out Robert’s last days together after Robert contracts cervical and ovarian cancer. And it’s a MUSICAL!!
Robert Eads and girlfriend Lola Cola
CAP21 is a small theater on 18th street on the 5th floor of an office building and seats 78 people. We got there early enough to grab seats in the front row, which basically meant we were on the stage that was not so much a stage as a large clearing of floor surrounded by sets that identified boundaries where the chairs could not. I’m not going to review the show. You can see a good review HERE. I will tell you that I loved it in an unanticipated way. Annette O’Toole (Robert) was incredible as was the rest of the cast. They really had to sing and perform flawlessly in order for the audience sitting right on top of them to buy it...and for us all in the front row to get over the flying spit. Actors are so very lubricated. And, I completely appreciated the blue-grass numbers that sang sadness so perfectly.
I chatted briefly with Bob DuSold, Creative Producer (cause he’s my friend-of-a-friend, so I felt I could throw myself at him after the show and I'm ballsy that way). He explained how it was intentional to keep the chairs so close to the “stage” so that we’d all feel slightly uncomfortable practically sharing the stage with the actors and even unnerved by all the gender bending. I mean, you’ve got a woman playing a female to male transsexual, 2 men playing female to male transsexuals, 1 woman playing a male to female transsexual, 1 man playing a male to female transsexual and a woman who plays a biological woman in a relationship with a female to male transsexual after she met him at the trailer park. Hooo-weeee!
But I’m sure I was not the only one who eventually stopped translating genders in my mind and reminding myself who was really what. It didn’t take long to become fully vested in each character’s story, and I’ll admit to a few tears along the way. Bob told me that there was a man in the audience on a previous night who was a big, burly hunter, and he sobbed throughout the show. Given I only teared up a couple of times, I felt pretty macho. (Insert crotch grab here...cause I'm ballsy as previously stated, and it works with the whole gender-bending thing.)
It wasn’t all weepy and sad. There was joy and some knee-slappin’ here and there. And there was the post-show drinking that kept us laughing all the way home. In the light of day, the stories stick with me, as does the itty bitty bit of heartburn from the vodka I drank with Gabriella and our friend Mark who was in town from the UK. I figured this was a good show for Mark to see after the Jets game the previous night. Nothing like a well-rounded taste of New York!
Robert DuSold with our friend and primo joke-teller Mark
HERE for tickets. And if you can’t git to the theee-AY-der, check out the documentary HERE. I wouldn’t be surprised if Southern Comfort found its way to Broadway one of these days, so keep your eyes out for it. Ain’t nuthin’ like a story ‘bout good ol’ boys who once was girls who sing real nice.