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Call it divine intervention – or blasphemy, depending on your point of view: a who’s who of stage and film actors performing dialogue about gay marriage in a former synagogue with same-sex couples standing on the altar of the Gothic-style building, professing their love for one another.
At Monday night’s “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays” at the Angel Orensanz Center on Norfolk Street, there was no question that the actors were speaking to the converted.
The one-night benefit for the Human Rights Campaign, Marriage Equality New York and the New York Theater Workshop, featured 15 works which ranged from the bordering-on-sacrilege to the touching. In “Doubtless” by Albert Innaurato, two nuns (Kristine Nielsen and Dale Soules) deliberate about leaving the church when they are visited by Jesus (Michael Stuhlbarg). In “London Mosquitoes” by Moises Kaufman, Judd Hirsch delivers a touching eulogy for Paul, his partner of 53 years.
Kathy Najimy wrote “Outlaw Wedding” and stars as Maddy, a devoted aunt given to malapropism – pubic zirconium instead of cubic zirconium – and is bitter about the laws that prevented her nephew from marrying his partner, now dead. “Nine years in a gay relationship equals 63 in a straight one,” she says, bearing her soul at a mall food court.
Matthew Broderick’s character wonders how he became gay in Neil LaBute’s “Strange Fruit.” “I wasn’t secretly putting on my mom’s dresses and reading the Hardy Boys,” he says. “I did the whole marriage and kids thing when I was in my twenties.”
In “The Gay Agenda” by Paul Rudnick, Nielsen’s housewife delivers a scathing monologue feigning political correctness as she describes her open-minded embrace of the new gay neighbors. The piece descends into a rant of intolerance that tumbles from her mouth like an avalanche. Sensing a conspiracy, she says, “I heard that gay voice. How did I know? It was bitchy, it was relentless and it was right.”
Other performers included Daphne Rubin Vega, B.D. Wong, André De Shields, Debra Monk, Jonathan Cake and Dan Butler. After the plays, guests stuck around for a “wedding reception.”