There's a new gay theater in town, created by Steve Paulding and Preston Britton. We haven't had one since Theatre Group, which at its height served a lively mix of raunchy, campy spoofs and serious gay-themed plays, so this new entry is welcome. But the first show indicates the Presteve Theatre Company doesn't yet have its feet under it. A parody of nun movies from The Sound of Music to Agnes of God, Charles Busch's The Divine Sister involves a publicity-seeking postulant, who's got the entire more-pious-than-thou/stigmata-miraculous-healing thing down pat (though the stigmata, alas, turn out to be nothing but squished maraschino cherries), and who's annoying the hell out of everyone else: a Mother Superior who used to be a crime reporter; a mysterious nun visiting from Germany; an Irish charlady; loads of double entendres and more than one orphaned baby. The play won over East Coast critics, and it does have some hilarious lines -- my favorite being "the dingbat ate my baby" -- but the humor felt muted here.
Presteve has taken over the funky but charming building where Shadow Theater once worked (originally the Ralph Waldo Emerson Center, now the McGlone), and they've done a good job setting the place up. Unfortunately, they haven't figured out how to darken the auditorium while the stage is illuminated, so it's hard to maintain concentration while you're watching, or get very involved in the action. As for the acting, it's certainly broad enough, but it just doesn't have the crazed loosey-goosey verve to carry this comic jaunt, and the overall rhythms are off.
This weekend's shows should be worth attending, however: 50 percent of ticket sales will be donated to local actress Kendra Jacobs, who accumulated $250,000 in uncovered medical bills during her fight with acute myeloid leukemia. "Preston and I absolutely love Kendra," said Paulding. "She's such a talented and kind person, and she's so dedicated to her passion of theater."
The Divine Sister plays at The McGlone Center at 14th and Ogden; tickets are $20. For more information, call 720-838-5176.
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