Monday, June 27, 2005

Fringe 2005 - TV Guest #3 - The Early Stage

Sunday, June 19, 2005 - 12:30pm

In the interests of full disclosure, I have a soft spot for The Early Stage.

Gregg Peterson, one of the best directors I've had the pleasure of working with, so much so we teamed up a second time, launched The Early Stage as a way to get new work on stage that he was interested in having a hand in helping to develop and put in front of an audience for the first time.

For its inaugural production, Gregg chose my play Heaven and Home - and gave me my first production in Minneapolis as well. Amazing cast, great reviews, sold out houses. A great way to start any partnership. It's hard to for me to sit here and do the math and realize that was nine years ago now. Greg also helped hook me up with a company out in Los Angeles that produced the play again the next year for an extended run, again getting good notices and audiences, Critics Choice, three Dramalogue Awards, and a nomination for a GLAAD Award. When I got a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship the following year to help workshop another new play, I hired Gregg to be at the helm, and assembled much of the Heaven and Home cast again. We've had a rather good run, The Early Stage and I.

Naturally when I saw The Early Stage's name in contention at the Fringe lottery earlier this year, I was very happy to see they were back in business. And happier still when they made the first cut and didn't have to tough it out on the waiting list.

Gregg came to the studio with Aaron Gabriel, Jennifer Grimm, and Drew Pearson. Together, they're four of the six person ensemble that is creating and performing the new musical The Candy Ass Club (with the first of many inquiries over the next 48 hours about language concerns - "Is it a problem that we have the word 'ass' in our title?") (for my response, see the earlier entry on the Scrimshaw Brothers below...). Drew, also the arranger and accompaniast, brought his keyboard, on which Jennifer played and sang her song "Queer Condition" (despite the seriousness of the lament, they all assured me it was a comedy). The mood was lightened by some off camera toying with the various keyboard settings for sampling and funky rhythms, with a few suspicious moans thrown in for good measure (ah, the wonders of modern technology)

They apologized in the interview segment for getting a case of the giggles, but hey, that's a sure sign that things are going well, if everyone still likes each other at this point. Several of my past Fringe experiences could have used less unnecessary offstage drama and more laughter. If the audience has half as much fun as their having with this autobiographical paean to queer childhood, then once again, this time as an audience member, I'm in good hands with Gregg in charge.

Here's their schedule info...

The Early Stage
The Candy Ass Club
Intermedia Arts
Sat 8/6, 7:00 pm
Sun 8/7, 4:00 pm
Mon 8/8, 8:30 pm
Wed 8/10, 10:00 pm
Sat 8/13, 2:30 pm

Definitely going to this one with Mom on opening weekend, hopefully their opening night. Since she considers Heaven and Home her first grandchild, she has a soft spot for The Early Stage, too. Come join us.

For info and pictures on Early Stage outings of the past, you can click on the titles below and browse around

Heaven and Home
Leave (The Surface of the World)

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

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