This month, the Toledo Repertoire Theatre is extending its season, offering audiences the chance to experience three classics in LGBTQ-centric theater.
The Rainbow Series at the Toledo Rep kicks off April 6 and runs for three weekends, with presentations of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” (1985), Lillian Helman’s “The Children’s Hour” (1934) and Paul Rudnick’s “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” (1998). Each of the Rainbow Series productions are award-winning, critically acclaimed shows following their respective debuts, and all of them are considered hallmarks of gay stage literature.
Although the shows are from different eras, all of them lead audiences through complex LGBTQ issues, such as the HIV scare of the mid-1980s (“The Normal Heart”), or conflicting issues with Christian religion (“The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told”).
“When audiences see these plays, I think they will be surprised at how well they hold up,” said Dave DeChristopher, the theatre’s artistic director. He mentioned that this will be the first time these plays have graced the Rep’s stage.
“The Normal Heart” chronicles the rise of the AIDS epidemic from 1981-84, as narrated by gay activist Ned Weeks. The play has received multiple Tony awards, and was adapted for television in 2014. “The Children’s Hour” tells of two boarding school owners, Karen and Martha, who risk losing their livelihoods after a rumor begins that they are lovers. The 1998 comedy “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” is on the lighter side, and depicts the story of humankind’s origins, from a gay and often irreverent perspective.
“Putting [the plays] together; that is, three unique theatrical voices writing in different styles and at different times [ . . . ] offers mind-boggling perspective on the LGBTQ community/issue and its evolution in recent decades,” DeChristopher said.
The director commented that, although gay rights have been a front-and-center societal issue for years, that “progress is moving so quickly that people are unaware of its context, to a large extent.
“The relevance of these plays just shows how far ahead the theatre community is ahead of society, in many respects,” he said.
“The Normal Heart,” April 6 & 7.
“The Children’s Hour,” April 13 & 14.
“The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” April 20 & 21.
$12. The Toledo Repertoire Theatre,
16 10th St., 419-243-9277. toledorep.org