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Southern Baptist Sissies, by Del Shores
WOW.
Friday, April 27, 2007
5.0
If you were a fan of "Sordid Lives", be prepared: This is not another white-trash comedy.
This story of four sissy boys growing up in the Baptist Church in Texas is so much more, with incredibly funny moments leaping right into very touching, and sometimes heartbreaking scenes. The last 20 minutes of the show are very painful to watch, and that's because of an amazing cast that makes you feel every single thing their characters are going through.
The strength of the show is the four boys:
Topher Payne as Mark the narrator has to be funny and charming, and also take you to the depths of despair. I sat probably ten feet away from him and watched him in breaking down in sobs at the end of the play, and I think everyone around me wanted to get up and comfort him. He just makes you care so much for the man he's playing. It's really a powerhouse performance. The last time I saw him onstage was as a drag queen in Wizzer Pizzer, and while he is actually covering somewhat similar material here, his transformation physically since that show feels like you're watching a totally different person.
Greg Morris is incredibly funny quick and does great drag, but finds so much depth in the one who was written to be, the "funny one". It's a great job, and he has a beautiful singing voice.
Marcelo Banderas as Andrew is another character you just want to embrace and help. His performace is so sad and real, we've all been this guy or have known him, and he's great at conveying it. (full disclosure: I know Marcelo and have worked with him before, but I'd challenge anyone not to be impressed by his work)
I mean it as a compliment when I say I hated Matt Sutter as TJ. As the sissy who gets saved and cured of his homosexuality, he spends the whole play trashing gays and yelling Bible verses about how gays are going to hell. But he does it with this great uncertainty- you can tell the character is lying, and doesn't believe a word he's saying. And when Mark finally calls him on his crap in the second act, it's the play's most powerful moment: A showdown between gays and the religious right. I wanted to cheer.
The rest of the cast is all fantastic, particularly Kelly Fortner as 3 different mothers (the night I was there the Preacher was played by an understudy, so I'll exempt him), but those four boys are amazing, and together they work so beautifully. I was very moved by this show.
I will also point out that you get two see all four of them in undressed at various points, and while that shouldn't be why you see it... well, it certainly don't hurt, either. These are beautiful men, who also happen to be extraordinarily talented.
I really reccommend this show.

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