All single women, they call themselves “widows” – a thinly veined reference to lesbian — and aren’t out to anyone but those attending.
Their annual meeting is threatened on this day by Communists, McCarthyism, fear of an atomic bomb being dropped on their neighborhood and some of their secrets sneaking out. Though the women are all friends, some couples form as they deal with a bumpier day than they expected.
The founding members of Weird Sisters — including Kelly Criss, who directs the production — came together unexpectedly.
“We were all talking [a few years ago] and realized that none of us had any summer plans,” Criss recalls.
They decided to form a company with an emphasis on women: female-themed shows, female casts and as many behind the scenes women as possible. Last summer, the company staged a terrific production of “Anton in Show Business,” a witty romp that, not so coincidentally, looked at the lack of women in the arts.
Most of the Weird Sisters founding members are involved with “5 Lesbians.” Criss says the company was looking for something light and humorous to do first this summer, especially since their second play “Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight” is on the heavier side.
“5 Lesbians” certainly fits the bill. The play caught her attention because of the title but she admits she laughed a lot when reading it.
Although set in 1956, she calls “5 Lesbians” very modern, with current references. There is a brief mention of marriage equality when the characters project four years into the future — to 1960 — and wax optimistic that they’ll be able to get married at that time.
“5 Lesbians” got its start in 2011 at the New Colony Theatre in Chicago as a sketch comedy skit and was featured as part of the FringeNYC Encore Series the next year.
It was important for Criss to have some non-traditional casting in the piece.
“To me, a large part of the Weird Sisters’ mission is to ensure everyone has a voice,” she says. “With this show, I wanted to challenge the audience’s preconceived notions of what a 1950s housewife really is or was. Perhaps it’s the stereotype, but it doesn’t seem logical to me that every single housewife in the mid 1950s all looked like June Cleaver or a girl-next-door version of Grace Kelly.
“By casting a male actor who’ll play Dale in full drag and an African-American actress to play Lulie, I hope audiences will quickly let their guard down and enjoy the ridiculousness of this fun story.”
“The Boy and the Pink Bear”
Through June 23 at the Southwest Performing Arts Center
A five-year-old African-American boy’s prize toy, a pink bear, leads to family strife and questions of sexual orientation in this world premiere by Ted Johnson.
“The Book Club Play”
Through June 23 at Horizon Theatre
A closeted gay man is part of the ensemble in this comedy about six friends/colleagues whose book club proceedings become part of a documentary.
“The Velveteen Rabbit”
Through July 27 at Serenbe Playhouse
Gay director Brian Clowdus helms a version of the classic children’s book.
“The Cat in the Hat”
Through July 28 at the Center for Puppetry Arts
Gay actor Aaron Gotlieb portrays The Fish in this Dr. Seuss classic.
Top photo: ‘5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche’ opens July 3 courtesy of Weird Sisters Theatre Project, founded by Jaclyn Hofmann,Kelly Criss, Tiffany Porter, Veronika Duerr and Megan Rose. (Courtesy photos/logo by Daryl Fazio)