SF Play A Huge Hit In NYC

UPDATE: Critic-O-Meter ranked all the reviews of all the Fringe shows and Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party is at the top, with 14.5 — meaning it was the best reviewed show of all!

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One of the best plays I saw last year was Aaron Loeb’s Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party. Well, now it’s playing at the New York International Fringe Festival and getting rave reviews.

Time Out New York gives it five out of five stars:

What sounds like a wacky romp turns out to be both riotously irreverent and intermittently historical, yet anything but fluffy…. The outstanding cast…expertly navigates Loeb’s every tonal shift, from catty comedy to gut-punch tragedy.

And nytheatre.com flips over it, too:

Thanks to the hilariously witty and remarkably poignant mix of words Aaron Loeb has written and superb performances across the board by the cast, Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party knocks it out of the park…. And there aren’t enough words in this review to describe how much I recommend it.

Let’s hear it for yet another local playwright going national!

Oh, and by the way, it’s completely SOLD OUT as well. Sorry, one New York reader….

‘ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY’ at SF Playhouse

Wednesday night was PlayGround night for the first preview of Aaron Loeb’s new play! Now, I got a chance to see some of this play as it was developed, as a very early work-in-progress. Plus, Aaron and I are in PlayGround. Plus, this was a preview, and my theory on previews is that you never ever review them, whether you loved the play or not, because anything you mention, good or bad, could be cut by the time the play opens, and any line flubs or technical gaffes are probably because the playwright just handed in a rewrite an hour before the preview. Plus, I’m not a reviewer anyway. So you’re only going to get a few broad strokes from me.

First of all, this is by Aaron Loeb, who’s a terrific writer. He had a humongo hit with First Person Shooter last year; he’s written a shitload of amazing ten-minute plays; and he does that thing I mentioned awhile back that I absolutely love and shoot for in my own work: rapid changes from drama to comedy that leave you off-balance and make the drama even more dramatic and the humor even more, um, humorful.

Second of all, SF Playhouse does a hell of a job at casting. Velina Brown, Mark Anderson Phillips, Joe Kady and Sarah Mitchell particularly leapt out at me (partly because I was secretly making mental notes of parts I’ve written in my own plays that they’d be freaking great in) but the whole cast is really, really good.

Third of all, it’s way more dramatic than you’d expect from the title. I was expecting a naked Abe Lincoln on roller skates (or was that in the early work-in-progress that I saw?). And there is indeed plenty of dancing and gay Lincoln-osity. But there are quite a few scenes (which I imagine won’t be cut) that are real and sad and tragic and just perfect.

Lastly, the play does that other thing I keep railing about, which is acknowledging the fact that there’s an audience. I don’t mean, of course, that every play has to address the audience directly and ask them to choose the order of the play or anything (hint, hint) — but if the play is aware that it’s a play and not a TV show, I get very happy.

Um, that veered close to sounding like I’m offering an opinion. So let me just wrap it up with the italicized paragraph:

Aaron Loeb’s Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party at SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter St., San Francisco, through Jan 17. Tickets at sfplayhouse.org.

SF Playhouse Is Doing Aaron Loeb

Hmm, that title’s a little…. Anyway, good news. SF Playhouse apparently announced their season (although there’s no sign of it on their website yet, so I don’t have any dates). And guess who’s getting produced again?! Oh, yeah, I already gave it away.

Aaron Loeb’s First Person Shooter was a big hit last year. This December they’re gonna do his Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party, which I got to hear portions of during its development. Yes, it’s as good as its title. I highly recommend anyone reading this go see it (although, since 90% of the readership of this blog is also on Aaron’s Facebook friend list, I imagine you’re already planning to go).

The rest of the season includes Conor McPherson’s Shining City in October, John Guare’s Landscape of the Body in January, Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Story in March, a play to be named later, and then Dale Wasserman’s adaptation of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Speaking of SF Playhouse, they’re currently running Tracy Letts’ Bug. I saw the Off-Broadway version of it in New York and it blew my mind, so I wasn’t planning on seeing it again, what with so many other good shows running right now. But I just found out Gabe Marin is in the lead. Gabe is phenomenal; he was in my Best of PlayGround show I’ll Be Home For Christmas last year, as well as several of my staged readings, so I’ve seen how he works from rehearsal to performance and let me reiterate: he’s freaking awesome. Go see him!