Drama testing friendship between gay and Mormon youth goes to 'Fringe NYC'
Stage • Drama testing friendship between gay and Mormon youth will be the second-ever Utah play at the prestigious festival.
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New York City loves, loves, loves plays about gay Mormons. Or at least Mormons and their gay friends.

Playwright and actor Steven Fales took his one-man show "Confessions of a Mormon Boy," chronicling his journey from closeted LDS missionary to New York City call-boy, to the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival.

Three years later, Plan-B Theatre Company took Carol Lynn Pearson's drama "Facing East," about Mormon parents grieving the suicide of their gay son, to an off-Broadway stage.

Now Matthew Greene, a California native and 2010 graduate of Brigham Young University, will take his play "Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea" to this year's New York International Fringe Festival.

It marks the third time the Big Apple has bitten at gay Mormon themes in Utah-produced drama. For Greene, it will also be the second time one of his dramatic works will play the esteemed drama festival in which thousands of entrants compete for little more than 200 performance slots.

Greene's first play to make it into the festival, "#MormonInChief," premiered at last year's festival, treating audiences to the social-media aftermath of a young man's racist and homophobic Tweets during a church meeting.

"It was a great experience," Greene said. "I'm hoping this year will be even better. If anything else, I'm looking forward to spending more time with the production and finding a whole new audience."

His second dramatic foray into Mormon topics, "Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea," traces friendship between two young men from childhood to early adulthood as Adam prepares for his LDS mission and Steve comes out as a gay man. Logan Tarantino played Steve, with Topher Rasmussen playing Adam, in Plan-B's world-premiere production last February. They will reprise their roles in New York City, albeit with a tighter script and Plan-B producing director Jerry Rapier directing instead of Jason Bowcutt, who directed the original.

Rapier said his first reaction upon learning about the play's acceptance at the festival was to worry about money for the trip. So far, $8,000 of $10,000 needed has been raised.

Rasmussen and Tarantino are still university students, Rapier said, but are glad to graduate with a New York City production under their belts. Many theater and drama festivals work in the manner of a lottery, but the more prestigious New York International Fringe Festival selects its offerings by jury.

"The Fringe atmosphere is really crazy," Rapier said. "We've got 30 minutes to set up the show, then 30 minutes to get out and make room for another show. Our set will be two actors with two stools, and we'll do a lot with all four of them."

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The New York International Fringe Festival/Fringe NYC

When • Aug. 9-25.

Where • 520 Eighth Avenue, Ste. 311, New York, and 19 separate theater venues across the city.

Info • Visit www.fringenyc.org for more information.