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June 2, 2011 Comments Off on Seattle: Meet Charlotte von Mahlsdorf…again. Views: 2068 #Theater and Stage, Arts & Entertainment, Stage

Seattle: Meet Charlotte von Mahlsdorf…again.

The One and Only Nick Garrison.


I’ll keep this brief… but, I figured, it was solid, queer-riffic enough news to break to the Seattle Gay Scene reading community: but you know Nick Garrison, correct? A mega-superstar of stages all across the Pacific North West, having proven countless times he is a versatile force to be reckoned with; notably introducing Seattle audiences to the hit glam-rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch back in 2000, and being a total doll in 2004 by starring in its revival, and recently appearing in Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s production of The Laramie Project. Just examples. My introduction to his talents was sort of a slam-dunk experience, as it was also the first (remembered) time seeing the brilliant Julie Briskman on stage, in the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s production of The Beard of Avon, in which my memory correctly serves me a flash of Mr. Garrison draped only in a blanket, sitting off to the side of the stage, spewing his lines with such enigmatic command, one could only further describe the action as art.

Okay, so – the point of this? Imagine Nick Garrison dawning a slightly different German accent, but still wearing a dress, and similarly as spot-light heavy as “Hedwig”, but also playing some 50 odd characters in the course of 80 minutes. Sounds familiar, right? Doug Wright wrote I Am My Own Wife, which received its Broadway debut starring Jefferson Mays, and would later scoop up nearly every possible theatre award out there – including the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for Drama. But, no, you may be thinking – even more specifically, didn’t we hear about Nick Garrison doing this play here in Seattle? Close, my friends. The much-missed Empty Space Theatre’s season before finding itself no longer in existence included the Seattle premier of I Am My Own Wife, with Nick Garrison’s name attached (on October 27th, Brendan Kiley of The Stranger wrote a SLOG announcing “The Death of the Empty Space Theatre”, and in a single paragraph states, “Damn. I really wanted to see Nick Garrison in “I Am My Own Wife”). The play was then tossed back and forth between different theatre companies, and according to an anonymous source, was then picked up by the Seattle Repertory Theatre, but Nick Garrison had backed out of the project by that point, so the play was then dropped. This is simply hearsay, I will state… The play found its premier at ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery, who gave us a flamboyant and slightly much-to-be-desired take on the play’s subject, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, with Nick DeSantis dawning the challenging task of properly displaying so many personalities in a timely fashion. The play itself is solid and expertly devised on its own, and ArtsWest did not destroy the translation, but there were just as many faults with the production as there were positive aspects. It left much to be desired for those of us thwacking out at the possibility of seeing Nick Garrison play this role at the Empty Space Theatre, known for giving us a gem of a premier (anyone remember Frozen, whose performances by Lori Larsen and Peter Crook in particular were some of the most extraordinarily moving and brilliant to grace a local stage in the past ten years?) 

Now is your chance. The theatre Gods (or, the fine folks at the Seattle Repertory Theatre) have decided to push The Glass Menagerie off to their 2012/2013 season, and replace it with the master of all pairings: Nick Garrison (genius) in I Am My Own Wife (genius x 2), which will play at the Leo K. Theatre (genius x 3). Did I mention the play will be directed by the Rep’s artistic director Jerry Manning? Genius x 4. That’s FOUR genius x’s, y’all. Count it on your hand. I’m ecstatic.

The real McCoy: Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.

For those who read all this and are thinking “what the hell is I Am My Own Wife, and is that related to I Am My Own Granpa?” let’s just break it down simply and let your imagination run wild until you go see this play, or just Wikipedia it:

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, born Lothar Berfelde in 1928, was the founder of the Gründerzeit Museum in Berlin-Mahlsdorf. She lived her life openly as a transsexual, surviving both the Nazi and Communist regimes in East Berlin. She killed her father.

In the 1990’s, her Stasi file was revealed to the public as indicating her responsible for outing a comrade in her black market livelihood. All of which is depicted clearly in Mr. Wright’s well written, thoroughly analyzed and researched play. Want to see it now? You should.

This is good news, my friends. Let us rejoice. And, look forward to next year. I Am My Own Wife will run from February 3rd, 2012 to March 4th, 2012 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Leo K. Theatre

(Editor’s Note: Nick Garrison fans can also rejoice that he is moving to the director’s chair for Strawshop’s summer production of Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine which runs July 7-Aug 6 at the Erickson Theatre on Capitol Hill and featuring an all star Seattle cast. It’s a must see for fans of Nick, the play, the playwright, the theater and the cast. Tickets on sale NOW!)

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