Photo courtesy of Island City Stage
Mike Westrich and Clay Cartland appear in a scene from Island City Stage’s debut production.
By AARON KRAUSE
To kick off its 10th anniversary season, Island City Stage will mount a revival of the first play it produced — The Twentieth Century Way by Tom Jacobson. It will run from Oct. 1-Oct. 31.
“We’re revisiting the play that started it all,” Artistic Director Andy Rogow said. “The Twentieth Century Way not only still resonates today, but it serves to remind us of everything that we’ve always been about at Island City Stage; telling socially relevant stories that explore LGBT+ issues and history, with theatrical flair.”
To be specific, Jacobson’s play tells the true story of two actors. They hired themselves out to the Long Beach Police Department in 1914. The goal was to entrap what some people then called “social vagrants.”
The Twentieth Century Way “continues our tradition of presenting a combination of new work and classics, hilarious comedy and cathartic drama,” Rogow said.
Jacobson’s play is one of five works that ICS has planned for the upcoming 2021-2022 season. It also includes a Tennessee Williams classic, a send-up of gothic romance and horror films, as well as a play about being Black and gay in America today.
Looking back, David Gordon and Empire Stage, through a partnership a decade ago, planted the seeds for what is today ICS. Rogow said he “honestly couldn’t have imagined we’d be where we are today.”
Specifically, 10 years after its founding, ICS has “become the largest producer of non-musical plays in Broward County, with over 100 performances per year and a subscriber base of more than 500,” Rogow said. “Even through the last season, by far our most challenging, our patrons and artists stepped up to assure we could continue our work for another 10 years and beyond.
Rogow said he is overwhelmed by audience and donor support.
“Our audience has grown with us, allowing us to produce many new and often challenging plays that explore the full range of the LGBT+ experience; from serious subjects like racism, rape, gay marriage and sex addiction to lighter fare, including dressed in Joan Crawford outfits and Altar Boyz saving our souls with music.”
ICS’ location is in Wilton Manors, near Ft. Lauderdale. The nonprofit, professional company dedicates itself to “creating quality professional theatrical experiences focused on the LGBT+ community for a universal audience,” according to its mission statement on islandcitystage.org.
Currently, the company is in the midst of its ninth season. ICS just completed the in-person run of the play The Niceties. Now, people can watch the show virtually through April 25. To read a review of The Niceties, visit https://theatricalmusings.com/reviews-by-theater/ics-the-niceties-neatly-captures-the-zeitgeist. Following The Niceties, ICS will mount a production of a much lighter play — Bright Colors and Bold Patterns. For more information, visit https://islandcitystage.org.
This season, ICS is offering in-person as well as virtual performances. Next season, pending approval from licensing companies, ICS will present productions virtually, in addition to in-person performances, managing director Martin Childers said.
Below is a closer look at ICS’s 10th anniversary season.
- Oct. 1-Oct. 31: The Twentieth Century Way – Tom Jacobson’s play is the true story of two actors in 1914. They hired themselves out to the Long Beach Police Department to entrap “social vagrants” in public restrooms. Authorities arrested 31 men. And the ensuing scandal led to an ordinance against “oral sodomy” in California.
- Jan. 27-Feb. 27: Armature – ICS will present the world premiere production of this play by Andre Kramer. A “burning” is the undercurrent of this story in which the Armature Bar is at the epicenter of stories. They connect two sexy, troubled gay men, and a Black family whose matriarch is running for political office.
- March 17, 2022-April 17, 2022: Suddenly, Last Summer – Tennessee Williams was one of the true titans of live theater over the past century. And this piece is one of his most memorable works. On a hot, steamy afternoon, you’ll find Violet Venable and her niece, Catherine, waging battle in a way that will cement the legacy of Violet’s son, Sebastian. Was he a brilliant artist, devoted son? Or, was he a sexual predator?
- June 9, 2022-July 10, 2022: The Mystery of Irma Vep—Vampire attacks, werewolf sightings, and the resurrection of an Egyptian Princess all make an appearance in this send-up of gothic romance and horror films. Charles Ludlam wrote the play.
- Aug. 4, 2022-Sept. 4, 2022: One In Two – Three actors sit in an ethereal waiting room. In this piece by Donja R. Love, for each performance, the audience chooses which actor must portray the lead character. The play tells the story of a Black man diagnosed with HIV.