Extra fun on closing night

Sunday night, we played to a very full house, and the cast was in a playful mood with lots of ad libs. Probably the audience favorite was from Lesley De Martin, as she hurried her class offstage at the end of Mismatch Mercy Mission, “Come on, this is Fringe. We only have an hour!”

When it was over, we popped champagne, exchanged hugs, and posed for the group photo:

Gayland Cast and Crew

The “Gayland: The Musical,” cast, crew, and creators.

Left to right: Doug Therrien, Lori DeLeon, Spencer Doyle, Charles Kohlmeyer, Dilyara Shiderova, Dave Hurlbert, Scott King, Christopher St. John, Ivan Griffin, David Kaplinsky, Christopher Thompson, Kathleen Westfall, Chard Gonzalez, (second row) April Mok, Joe Furnari, Nick Shackleford, Brittany Scofeld, Lesley DeMartin. Not pictured: Swamp DeVille (sets) Veronica Russell (costumes)

Photo by Sandy Mustard, 11-24-13.


 fringegayland.jpg“I was told that this play was going to be, “The must-see of Fringe Festival,” and upon seeing it on opening night, I have to agree.”

– Kelly Crawford
NoDef Staff Writer


The streets overfloweth with performance once again, as the New Orleans Fringe Festival is upon us. Once again NoDef’s crack team is taking to the streets to review all the plays, musicals, dance performances and one-man capers we can muster. The first batch of reviews are out of the oven. Check back for more as the fest rolls on.


At this years Fringe Festival, the musical production, Gayland, which is directed by Joseph Furnari, gives the audience a glimpse of a world run by homosexuals, and it’s not all rainbows as one would expect.

The six person cast of Gaylandspins stereotypes on their head by showing a world where it is the “ungays” that are persecuted and ostracized. The performance opens with a fantastically liturgical number (“In Eden Fair Our Mother God”), showing the studied talent of composer Scott R. King and the harmonious possibilities of the cast. This evangelical opening poignantly sets the stage as the characters call upon Mother God and Jessi Christ to rid the world of those who are not gay—because after all, being ungay is an act against God. It is a disease that can be caught from a toilet seat. It is an abomination that can make a person physically ill. In other words, it’s like Fox News on opposite day.

The sharp writing by Christopher St. John continues throughout Gayland, and it is equally met by the purposeful staging and costume changes in the performance. The play moves quickly from one number to the next as this six person cast creates scenes with their small props. Lori DeLeon, Lesley DeMartin, Ivan Griffin, David Kaplinsky, Brittany Scofield, and Nick Shackleford may only be six people, but they play around 30 characters, showing that a change in hair, costume, and attitude can be enough to transition the audience through a storyline. The setting is perfectly aligned with what one expects from the Fringe Festival—sparse with no frills.

Though the set may be thin, the voices that sing the 18 songs in this one-hour show are anything but. One of the vocal highlights was Ivan Griffin’s solo “I’m a Real Man.” The song’s bluesy sound and Griffin’s powerful voice about what a “real man” is received the loudest applause as well as some hoots and hollers from the audience. On the flip side was the sweetly charming duet, “Viva la Difference,” sung by strong-voiced Brittany Scofield and David Kaplinsky. And, just as the performance began with a harmonious piece, it ends with “You’ve Always Been Different,” which just can’t help but give you goosebumps as you hear the vocal range of the cast in its full capacity.

Although placed off to the side of the stage, the musical talents of Dilyara Shiderova (piano primo), April Mok (piano secondo), Doug Therrien (string bass), and Charles Kohlmeyer (percussion) echo throughout the Marigny Opera House and exhibit the various musical genres Gayland pulls from—everything from Broadway to styles with that devilish flatted fifth.

Together the cast, set-design, vocal direction, and purposefully bound writing of Gayland make this a performance that has the audience laughing at the ridiculous world created in the play and also waiting from them outside the doors of the Marigny Opera House. I was told that this play was going to be, “The must-see of Fringe Festival,” and upon seeing it on opening night, I have to agree.

Gayland is being performed at the Marigny Opera House (725 St. Ferdinand St.) on November 22 at 7 p.m., November 23 at 9 p.m., and November 24 at 11 p.m.

-Kelley Crawford

OffBeat.com features “Gayland” in “Top 12 Fringe Fest Shows Not To MIss”


Read article on OffBeat.com

Always at the forefront of uninhibited, experimental arts and culture, New Orleans hosts one of the most comprehensive Fringe Festivals in the country next week from November 20-24 at more than two dozen DIY venues throughout the Bywater, Marigny and St. Claude Avenue neighborhoods. The sixth annual New Orleans Fringe Fest plays host to more than 77 intimate shows over the course of five days in the mediums of stage play, musical, comedy, spoken word, dance, puppetry, burlesque, acrobatics, installation art, and perhaps the most “New Orleans” of all performance arts — an official Fringe Fest Parade.

The “fringe” movement in theatre and performance art has been bubbling nationally for the past five years or more now. Even cities not known so much for their theatre or arts scenes now host an annual Fringe Fest. Given the nature of the city’s cultural heritage, it is no surprise that New Orleans has been a pioneer in the movement to encourage local and amateur artists to hone their crafts. It is also no wonder that the tgood-children-paradehrivingarts nexus that is the St. Claude Avenue corridor plays host to the New Orleans Fringe Fest. This weekend, nearly every street corner and every small cabaret or warehouse will be ablaze with color and movement, the roster now also including more visiting artists. Several Fringe Fest alumni have even gone on to tour their musical plays and comedy shows.

Just glancing at the festival schedule can be quite daunting, but OffBeat staff have assembled 12 shows we wouldn’t miss this year to help get you started. Some of the most New Orleans and Louisiana-centric shows have been selected for our Top 12 below.



Welcome to a world in which almost everyone is gay, evangelical lesbian conservatives hold power, and the marginalized ungays are agitating for the right to marry. “Gayland,” an audacious new musical comedy, shows you this world through the eyes of Willow, a rising star, who finds herself attracted to Zack and caught in the coils of forbidden ungay desire.

Marigny Opera House – 11/20 (7pm), 11/22 (7pm), 11/23 (9pm), 11/24 (11pm)

{Editor’s note: We were first on the list!}

Read article on OffBeat.com