Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lambda offers Opening Lines

Message from Lambda Players

It was 10 years ago that local film reviewer Tom Swanner decided to
try his hand at being a playwright. An avid theatre-lover and former
professional actor, he approached The Lambda Players and submitted his
first script.

A few months later the play, Opening Lines, was playing to sold out
houses. Now, on the 10th anniversary of its first reading, Opening
Lines is once again taking the stage with an updated script, a cast of
Lambda Players’ veteran actors and the return of director Matthew
Burlingame (Sordid Lives, Hedwig) at the helm.

“Opening Lines is the only Tom Swanner play I haven’t directed,”
Burlingame told Outword. “We’ve collaborated on five shows now and
when I heard them kicking around the idea of doing an updated version,
I knew I had to direct it.”

Opening Lines lead characters, Chris and Richard are being played by
long time Lambda regulars Mahlon Hall (Sordid Lives, The Nun Crashers)
and West Ramsey (Make Way For Dyklings, Oscar and Bosie). The two are
set up on a blind date by friends only to discover the possibility
that love at first site may truly exist.

Returning from the original production is Cynthia Davis who portrayed
Diane, Richard’s slightly insane, muscle-relaxer popping best friend
and fag-hag. Opposite Davis is Chris’ best friend played by Brian Judd
(Paperclip Messiah, The Coming Out Party) who is described as a loud,
bitter queen. Davis and Judd turn Diva-ing into an art-form as the two
clash in a local coffeehouse.

Rounding out the cast are Miacail Buse (Burnt Fields, Dear Harvey) and
Lynnette Blaney (Suddenly Last Summer, Burnt Fields) as Chris’ parents
who have come by to meet the new boyfriend.

The only problem is Chris doesn’t know that they know he is gay, and
isn’t quite ready to come out to them.

Described as “a sensational comedy” and “one of the best
romantic-comedy scripts produced by The Lambda Players,” Opening Lines
is the first in a string of plays that are gay-themed, returning the
players to their roots.

“We’ve spent the last year or so experimenting with different styles
of plays, trying to see what works for us,” said Swanner, who is also
The Lambda Players’ artistic director. “Our community is vastly
different than it was even 10 years ago. Do you still want to see
coming out stories, we asked? The answer we got is ‘yes’. LGBT
Sacramento wants to see their lives reflected on our stage, so we’re
gonna give it to them.”

To accomplish this, Swanner and Lambda Players’ board president Dave
Stewart, who also holds the Mr. Bolt 2009-10 title, enlisted the help
of former Artistic Director Matthew Burlingame who retired from the
troupe four years ago.

Returning last year to direct the hit comedy Sordid Lives, Burlingame
has signed on to direct a minimum of four shows in the upcoming
season, including his own play Paperclip Messiah scheduled to open in
July and also celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary on The Lambda
Players’ stage. The show chronicles a tumultuous love affair between a
Catholic priest struggling with inner demons and a down-on-his-luck
gay man who takes a job as the parish custodian.

Other shows being discussed for the upcoming season include past
Lambda Players’ hits such as Trolling, Coffeehouse, Countess Dracula
and several new works by local playwrights. Following Opening Lines
will be a Shakespeare adaptation entitled Romeo and Julian.

“We’ve had a tough road the last year with the tight economy, the
expense of the new theater space and the shortage of arts grants for
California’s arts community,” said Stewart. “We’re also in a city with
over 50 competing theater companies who are all struggling to make it.
The Lambda Players has survived this long because our community
supports the work we do. It’s our job to produce plays worthy of that
support and we are committed more than ever to doing that. Opening
Lines is just the start.”

Opening Lines will play at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays from April 16
through May 22, with no show on May 8. There will be two Sunday
matinees, dates of both are to be announced.

Visit www.LambdaPlayers.com for more information

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