It’s a perfect fit for LGBTQ audiences….ArtsWest Playhouse is debuting the Seattle debut of Douglas Carter Beane’s bittersweet comedy, THE NANCE, this week at their theater in West Seattle. Set in the 1930s world of burlesque, a “nance” is slang for an effeminate homosexual and in particular, for a stage comedian who mocks gay men with jokes about limp wrists and “nelly” behavior. The humor was crude and coarse but audiences enjoyed “nance” performances the same way they embraced the minstrel show or other forms of ethnic humor that are all found to be offensive to modern sensibilities and audiences.
Douglas Carter Beane’s play focuses on an unusual kind of “nance”. Chauncey Miles, the lead in this play is actually a closeted gay man pretending to be straight and playing an effeminate caricature on stage. It’s a role tailor made for out Seattle actor Richard Gray who has played a wide variety of roles, both gay and straight; musicals and dramas and comedies over his multi decade career including bravura turns in The Producers at Village Theatre and in the two man tour de force Murder for Two at ACT this past spring. And, like his role in The Producers, once again Gray is stepping into a role originated by Broadway star Nathan Lane.
October 26 – November 19, 2017
By Douglas Carter Beane
Directed by Mathew Wright
Set in the beating heart of the naughty, raucous world of 1930s burlesque, THE NANCE brings to life an American era when it was easy to play gay and dangerous to be gay. Chauncey Miles (Richard Gray) performs as a “nance”, a popular comedy act packed with double entendre and camp parodies of gay men. While most “nance” actors are straight, Chauncey is not, and – at a time when gay communities were subject to police raids and moral outrage – Chauncey is left with no choice but to hide his identity while he mocks it onstage.
Run time is approx. 2.5 hours with an intermission.
* Content advisory: this play features full nudity.
10 Cabaret Tables for Two are available for each performance of The Nance, staged as shown in the diagram below. Cabaret Tables, available for only $125, seat two and include a complimentary bottle of wine.