Actor’s Express put aside its financial troubles on Sunday and celebrated the opening of what they do best: Theatrics not afraid to explore controversial topics while offering a healthy helping of skin.
That, in a nutshell, is the theater’s latest offering–“The Judas Kiss,” which tells the story of gay playwright Oscar Wilder as he faces accusations and trials for “acts of gross indecency” and an eventual lonely escape to France. The production doesn’t spare the flesh, either.
The play opened previews last week, but Sunday’s performance marked opening night. That meant the cast and the behind-the-scenes leadership of Actor’s Express mingled with fans and supporters while noshing on food and cocktails during a reception afterwards.
There was Freddie Ashley (second photo left), the theater’s gay artistic director who stepped back onto the stage for the first time in seven years to take on the role of Wilde. Ashley made an impassioned plea on the theater’s behalf in February warning that it faced “a true life or death moment” thanks to troubled finances. Supporters quickly came to the rescue, to the tune of $50,000 in emergency donations, and officials said Sunday that they’ve raised more than $123,000 of the $200,000 needed to keep the doors open for the 2011-2012 season.
Also on hand for the reception was Clifton Guterman (top photo left), the gay actor who plays one of Wilde’s lovers Bosie, and Antonio Pareja (bottom photo right), whose Galileo joins Bosie in strolling across stage nekkid. There’s more to the play’s parade of flesh, but we’ll leave you with just this hint: “The Judas Kiss” is not a play in which you want to arrive late.
“The Judas Kiss” runs through June 11.