By Erik Luna
With an awe-inspiring ensemble of actors, the second annual production of the “Brown & Out Theater Festival,” sets the mixed emotions of being gay to the Casa 0101 stage.
Eleven segments are stitched into two acts, starting with the humorous “Foundation For a Better Gay Brown Life,” to the informative “Forever Young,” creating one, for a lack of a better word, fabulous play. Each segment in the play deals with a different theme in the life of gay partners. Some focus on humor, while others deal with serious matters, such as suicide.
The cast is as inspiring as their pro-homosexuality messages are. Each actor or actress brought flavor to their respective roles. The set and lighting added just as much as the actors did. The use of lighting during the segment titled “3 Rooms,” not only enhanced the storyline, but gave it a bone-chilling feel to it.
The music in this production played an important part as well. Cleverly using songs such as The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men,” and famous drag queen RuPaul’s “Supermodel (You Better Work),” gave most segments that little something extra.
One of the more entertaining segments of the production was “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: The Untold Story,” which was written by cast member Natalie Camunas. This segment uses Charles M. Schulz’s classic Peanuts characters and gives into the myth that Peppermint Patty and Marcie are lesbians, resulting in a hilarious bit. Cast members Evelyn Lorena and Miriam Peniche both do terrific impersonations of these iconic characters.
Lorena, who also wrote a segment entitled “Follow the Rainbow,” gave a brilliant performance throughout the night. “Follow the Rainbow,” features her giving a revealing monologue about her first gay sexual experience. It’s truly, an emotional piece, however awkward.
Two of the plays were short and to the point, while others took their time and demonstrated a lot of depth to the story. “The Baby Cries,” which was written by Mario J. Novoa, dealt with two gay men who were new dads. Andres Rey Solorzano plays the nervous dad and MJ Silva portrays his husband. Solorzano’s mom, played by Peniche, does not accept his lifestyle and Silva has a problem with Solorzano’s mom.
Martin Morales lends his comedic styling in “The Baby Cries,” and plays a nice contrast to Peniche’s portrayal of the judgmental mom. It’s a wonderful piece that shows the strength of family and the heart. Cast member and playwright Henry Alberto was full of energy in each performance of the night.
His play “Frankie and Johnny,” which he did not star in, deals with a couple who are having problems which then becomes violent. It’s dramatic, emotional and racy. The directors Corky Dominguez, Nina Harada and Hector Rodriguez all did a brilliant job working with various actors on stage, using different techniques to get through everyone’s dialogue.
Along with the show, Casa 0101 also has an art gallery display in the lobby, featuring the art of Hector Silva, who is famous for his art focusing on cultural identities, eroticism and beauty. It will be set up until the end of the “Brown & Out Theater Festival.”
The “Brown & Out Theater Festival” has foul language and sexual humor and is intended for a mature audience. The play will be running until Oct. 21, but there will be a special engagement show on Oct. 11, for National “Coming Out” day. Casa 0101 is located at 2012 E. First St., Los Angeles, 90033.