Fierstein Script, Adler’s Direction & Perfect Casting Make For A Powerful Play
Who but powerful playwright Harvey Fierstein – whose name is synonymous with La Cage aux Folles, Hairspray, and Torch Song Trilogy – could write a play – CASA VALENTINA – about
cross dressing and make it both humorous and philosophical?
Who but GableStage’s Artistic Producing Director Joseph Adler – who has a record 197 Carbonell nominations to his credit and is rightfully known as South Florida’s foremost director – could tackle such an intimate subject as living as a transvestite, and make it into one of the most thought provoking plays to hit the boards locally in years?
Who but a talented cast can provide such insight and humor to provide two hours of enjoyment and a rare amount of time to question just what did the author mean?
All of the above is why Casa Valentina currently at GableStage makes it a “must-see” for those interested in “theatre which makes one think.”
It all takes place at a rundown Catskill guest house named Chevallier d’Eon in the year 1962, Now, this is no ordinary guest house! This one caters to men who enjoy putting on makeup and women’s attire. Proprietors of this resort are Rita (Irene Adjan) and her husband George (Wayne LerGette) who enjoys, like all of their patrons, dressing up in feminine garb. Both are among the perfect casting.
In fact, the gentlemen in this play are not drag queens or female impersonators. They are – for the most part – married men with children. Although their outward behavior links them in the
makeup/dress behavior mode, each dresses-up for individual reasons. For some, it is gender identity; for others it is sexual. None are dressing up for frivolous attention. In all cases, they consider themselves “straight.”
Visiting this 1962 weekend are a variety of “guys. (Keep in mind, that date and compare it with today after you’ve seen this play).
Among this weekend guests are; Bessie (Roland Rusinek), a plus-size married man, father of three,
who seems to have a proverb or famous saying for every situation and provides for some fun amidst the serious moments..
Miranda (Ryan Didato), a young first-timer, recently a bridegroom by the real name of Jonothan. Didato‘s character opens the door to the audience’s sympathy.
Gloria (Cliff Burgess) a photogenic model-type who recently was on the cover of a magazine catering to the cross-dressing crowd.
Amy (Peter Galman), a judge who has left aside his judicial robes for more feminine attire.
Charlotte (an outstanding Kevin Reilley), a transvestite activist from California.
Terry (Howard Elfman), a senior citizen who seems to go with the flow.
And one unexpected guest Eleanor(Patti Gardner) – the daughter of Amy (the judge). She is only In one scene, but her appearance becomes memorable as she represents those who do not understand and never will allow such behavior.
As good as this acting ensemble is. It is equally matched by the superior ‘tech’ crew – set (by Lyle Baskin); lighting (by Jeff Quinn), sound (by Matt Corey), and especially the costumes of 1962 (by Ellis Tilllman).
Casa Valentina runs through June 28, Call 305-445-1119 for tickets.