Every day is opening night.

GAYFEST NYC:  “Mother Tongue” by F.J. Hartland featuring Kevin Spirtas joins Festival Rep 5/13

Philip Carrubba
(212) 695-7400


“M O T H E R T O N G U E”

MAY 13 – MAY 23, 2010


New York, NY (5/14/2010) – GAYFEST NYC, Inc., (Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, Producers), the country’s premier producer of new LGBT-themed plays, continues its Fourth Annual Festival, a five-week event (May 6 – June 6, 2010) filled with new theatre works spotlighting gay issues, with the world premiere of the new play Mother Tongue written by F. J. Hartland with direction by Margarett Perry. Performances began May 13, 2010 for a limited engagement through Sunday, May 23, 2010 in the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex (312 West 36th Street). Opening night is Friday, May 14, 2010.

Mother Tongue is play about a young painter who finds his life turned upside down by a new lover with a mysterious past and a mother pursuing a career as a stand-up comedian. Whose side will he take? The 3-member cast features Jake Paque as Matt, Kevin Spirtas as Cale and J.J. Van Name as Bertie.

The creative team includes Michael Hotopp (Set), T. Michael Hall (Costumes), and Jesse Belsky (Lights). The Production Stage Manager is Andrea Wales.

Mother Tongue will play the following performance schedule: Tuesdays – Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. with a special matinee performance on Saturday afternoon, May 15th at 2:00 p.m.

Currently in performance through May 16th is the U.S. premiere of Romeo and Hamlet by written by R. Jonathan Chapman and Kevin Stefan and directed by Sidney J. Burgoyne. The Festival concludes with the world premiere of the new musical This One Girl’s Story (inspired by the proud life of Sakia Gunn and based on a true story) with Book by Bil Wright, and Music and Lyrics by Dionne McClain-Freeney with direction by Devanand Janki (May 27 – June 6, 2010, June Havoc Theatre).

As a special added event, The Festival will present the world premiere of Steve Hayes: Tired Old Queen At The Movies: Live! The sensational YouTube Series comes to life on stage with direction by Vincent J. Cardinal, starring Steve Hayes, John K. Bixler (May 24-29, 2010, June Havoc Theatre). Steve Hayes: Tired Old Queen At The Movies: Live! plays the foll0wing performance schedule: Monday – Saturday at 8:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2:30 p.m. on May 29th.

Single tickets are $18 each for the 3 plays in the Festival. Ticket for the special added event are $35. All proceeds from GAYFEST NYC benefit the Harvey Milk High School. Tickets are now on sale at www.Theatermania.com or by calling 212-351-3101. For additional information log onto: www.GAYFESTNYC.com.

Sponsors of GAYFEST NYC include American Airlines, Macy's, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Bud Light, Grey Goose Vodka, Lladro, Sutter Home Vineyards, DG Neary Real Estate, Jamie deRoy, Sutter Home Vineyards, Starbright Floral Design, The Protein Bakery, Bamboo 52/Philip Marie, Burgers & Cupcakes, Theatermania.com and media sponsors including the Village Voice, Back Stage, Edge Publications, Next Magazine, GO! Magazine, FunMaps, Mark Nelson Events, HHC Marketing and others. GAYFEST NYC receives generous support from the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.

“GAYFEST NYC’s mission is twofold,” said Jack W. Batman, co-Producer of the festival. “First, to develop new voices for the LGBT community and, in doing so, expand the reach and accessibility of both emerging and established playwrights, composers and lyricists while providing high level entertainment to a discerning and supportive audience. The second part of our mission is to give back. To that end, through our fundraising efforts and the generosity of our sponsors, advertisers and supporters, we have established a scholarship fund to benefit students of Harvey Milk High School,” continued Batman. “Since 2007, GAYFEST NYC, Inc. has awarded twenty-three scholarships to graduating seniors and established an accredited elective Playwriting program at the school.”

Harvey Milk High School (HMHS) is a fully-accredited, voluntary NYC public high school focused on the educational needs of teenagers who are in crisis or at risk of physical violence and/or emotional harm in a traditional educational environment.

“GAYFEST NYC, Inc. is also committed to producing plays that will have a life outside the Festival,” said Bruce Robert Harris, co-Producer of GAYFEST NYC, “plays that will represent the Festival in productions around the English-speaking world and which might also be brought to life in television and/or film presentations. Board members of GAYFEST NYC, Inc. include Lily Tomlin, Terrence McNally, Charles Busch, Douglas Carter Beane, Mario Cantone, Kate Clinton and a distinguished group of Broadway producers, actors, writers, artistic and executive directors of regional theatres plus other entertainment professionals.”


Jake Paque (Matt) is honored to be a part of GAYFEST NYC 2010. He received his BFA in Acting from UWSP, toured nationally in Mornings of April and May and now resides in NYC. New York credits include Brad in A Devil Inside at the Richmond Shepard, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Golden I-Harp/Ensemble in Jack (Algonquin Theatre), A in Misery and Good Fortune (HERE Arts Center), Ben in First Base Coach (The Players’ Theater), Hippolytus in Phedre (The Access Theatre), Nellie in In the Sawtooths (The Lark), Mark Lydon John in Collision Course (The Lark) and Mils in the English world premiere reading of The Taster. Region credits include Pete/Pirate King in Precious Nonsense (The Kitchen Theatre), Astin in the world premiere of Emmy-winner Rachel Axler’s Archaeology (The Kitchen Theatre), and Henry Harry in Brilliant Traces (New Stage).

Kevin Spirtas (Cale), a 25-year veteran of acting on Broadway, in films and television, is most recognized around the world as Dr. Craig Wesley on NBC’s “Days of Our Lives.” Spirtas recently starred Off-Broadway in the new play, Loaded. On Broadway: A Chorus Line, Meet Me in St. Louis and The Boy from Oz (standby for Hugh Jackman). Television: “Friends.” “L.A. Heat,” “V.I.P,” “Fired Up,” “Silk Stalkings,” and “Quantum Leap.” Films: Embrace the Darkness, Striking Resemblence, Green Plaid Shirt, Apt Pupil, Daredevil, and those fantastic cult classic slasher sequels Friday the 13th VII, Subspecies II, and Subspecies III, The Hills Have Eyes II, and Albino Farm. In October 2009, Spirtas made his debut as a Broadway producer with the critically acclaimed revival of Finian’s Rainbow. Spirtas can also be seen touring the country and seven seas performing his hit musical one-man show, Night and Days.

J.J. Van Name (Bertie) is happy to be working with GAYFEST NYC, and with Margarett Perry, again! J.J. originated the role of Sinclaire in the Off-Broadway production of Sealed for Freshness by Doug Stone at New World Stages. She has played numerous roles with The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre: Romeo and Juliet (Nurse), King Lear (Goneril), Othello (Emilia), The Winter’s Tale (Paulina), Macbeth (Witch), Much Ado About Nothing (Margaret), Pericles (Cerimon & The Bawd), Twelfth Night (Maria). J.J. also did the Philadelphia premiere of Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show and has performed at The Wilma Theatre, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Lantern Theatre, Independent Eye and Society Hill Playhouse, among others.

F.J. Harland (Playwright) is a playwright/actor/director currently based in Pittsburgh. In 2008 he was the recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Playwrighting Fellowship. F.J.’s work has been produced a record-setting nine-times in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival. Other Pittsburgh venues include Bricolage Theatre, Rage of the Stage, South Park Theater, Dusquesne University, Prime Stage and PridFest. In NYC his work has been produced by Emerging Artists Theatre, Love Creek, 13th Street Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Quaigh Theatre and Don’t Tell Mama and five times in the Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival.

Margaret Perry (Director) directed the GAYFEST NYC productions of Competing Narratives by A.B. Ashes and Spill the Wine by Brian Dykstra. Margarett directed the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Clean Alternatives by Brian Dystra at 59E59 Theaters that went on to win the Fringe First Award at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Other favorite NY credits include A Play On Words (59E59 Theaters), Welcome to Arroyo’s (Hip Hop Theatre Fest), Brian Dykstra Cornered & Alone (The Triad) and Forsaking All Others (Access Theater). Margaret has worked on many solo shows including the Off-Broadway run of Brian Dykstra’s The Jesus Factor at the Barrow Street Theatre. Other favorites include Carlo D’Amore’s No Parole (Sacramento Theatre Company), Rachel Lampert’s The Soup Comes Last (KTC), Dairan Dauchan’s Entertainer’s Eulogy (Playhouse on the Square) and Brian Dykstra’s solo holiday show, Ho! (KTC) She is currently in development on Bonnie Levinson’s Whoops I Forgot To Have Kids and will directing Joan Shepard’s Confessions at Don’t Tell Mama in May. Recent regional credits include The Retreat from Moscow and Painting Churches (DayTony Award-Best Overall Production) at the Human Race Theatre. She is a regular at The Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca, NY where she has directed numerous productions inlcudeing Archaelogy (Rachel Axler), The Two of You (Brian Dykstra), A Marriage Minuet (David Wiltse) and Old Ttimes (Harold Pinter). Film/TV: Brian Dykstra The Jesus Factor (DVD), Another Bed (short), Wet (short/Houston Film Festival – Remi Award for Direction) and “The King and Me” (TV pilot – ABC). Margaret was the Producing Artistic Director of Access Theater for six years where she directed and produced numerous plays and world premieres. She is an Artistic Fellow at The Lark Play Development Center where she has worked with a variety of writers developing new plays. She received her MFA in Directing from SMU and is a Drama League Directing Fellow alumni and a member of SDC.


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