Thursday, December 13, 2018

ZACH Theatre presents Terrence McNally‘s “Mothers and Sons,” a provocative new play that covers 90 minutes out of the lives for four characters that explores the lives of gay men after the early days of the AIDS epidemic which would alter and reshape the entire gay subculture. From coping with loss to the changing portrait of the modern American family, “Mothers and Sons” is a poinant reminder of how far the gay community has come in these past decades and those that we’ve lost along the way, as well as how far we still have to go.

Emmy Award-winning actress Michael Learned, best known for playing the mother on The Walton‘s, stars as Katharine Gerard, a recently widowed Dallas matron en route to Europe who seeks out her deceased son’s former lover Cal Porter, played by Martin Burke (This Wonderful Life, Peter and the Starcatcher, and the The Santaland Diaries at ZACH Theatre). Here she comes face to face with Nicholas Rodriguez (Les Misérables, Master Class and Love! Valour! Compassion! at ZACH Theatre) as Cal’s husband Will Ogden and their son, Bud, played by young actor William May (A Christmas Story, and Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol at ZACH Theatre). Dave Steakley directs the wonderfully cast production at ZACH Theatre.

“Mothers and Sons” is a 90-minute emotional rollercoaster ranging from wounding outbursts to witty banter to touching moments of shared loss. There is no intermission. There are no costume changes. It is a real-time snapshot in the lives of the four characters, dealing with some heavy issues like the aftermath of the AIDS crisis and probably the most topical subject at the moment– same-sex marriage … with plenty of jabs at Texas, and a shoutout or two to Austin, thrown in there. And conveniently timed as LGBTQ Texans, along with our fellow Americans, await a ruling by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

“Mothers and Sons is a beautiful play of this moment in time as our country, and our state, struggles to define what constitutes a family, and who has the right to marry. This Spring at ZACH we are focused on equality, from the Civil Rights legislation at the heart of All The Way, to the dialogue around marriage equality today,” says Steakley. “As we have witnessed societal change occurs slowly and then there are certain junctions in our history where progress toward equality moves swiftly. We are poised at one of those moments in American history, and I’m delighted we are one of the first to produce McNally’s thoughtful, human, compassionate play.”

Regardless of your age, “Mothers and Sons” is a must see play that tries to summarize the change our world has seen over the last couple of decades. Mrs. Gerard struggles to come to terms with the death of her only child, trying to not forget him, trying to find someone to blame and seeing the life that could have been his had he lived. Older audience members will probably connect more with Cal and his struggle with the loss of his former partner and an entire generation of friends during the height of the AIDS crisis. Younger audience members will relate more with the younger aspiring writer Will, and his want for the American Dream and a politically correct world.

One of the most poignant moments of the performance was when Will talks to Mrs Gerard about the time when to be diagnosed with AIDS was effectively a death sentence: “First it will be a chapter in a history book, then a paragraph, then a footnote. … It’s already started to happen. I can feel it happening. All the raw edges of pain dulled, deadened, drained away.”

Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM through June 21, 2015 at ZACH’s Topfer Theatre at 202 South Lamar Blvd. Tickets start at $25 and are available online at www.zachtheatre.org, the ZACH Theatre box office in the Topfer Theatre Mondays through Saturday from 12 NOON to 7 PM and by phone at (512) 476-0541 x1. Discounts are available for groups of 8 or more. Student Rush Tickets are $18 one hour before show time (with valid ID).

PHOTO CREDIT: 1) Michael Learned, William May, Nicholas Rodriguez and Martin Burke / photo credit: Kirk Tuck; 2) Martin Burke and Michael Learned / photo credit: Kirk Tuck; 2) William May, Martin Burke and Nicholas Rodriguez / photo credit: Kirk Tuck; 3) William May, Martin Burke and Nicholas Rodriguez / photo credit: Kirk Tuck.

MOTHERS AND SONS

By Terrence McNalley; Dave Steakley, director; J. Robert Moore, assistant director; Michelle Ney, scenic designer; Gabrielle Garcia, scenic design assistant; Michael McDonald, costume designer; Jason Amato, lighting designer; Craig Brock, sound designer; Scott Groh, properties designer; Shannon Richey, stage manager. Presented by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation, Kathleen and Harvey Guion, Lee Manford and Casey Blass, Pamela and Scott Reichardt, and Mercedes Benz of Austin. At ZACH’s Topfer Theatre, 202 South Lamar Blvd. (corner of Riverside Drive and South Lamar Blvd.), 512-476-0541 x1, www.zachtheatre.org. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

WITH: Martin Burke (Cal Porter), Michael Learned (Katharine Gerard), William May (Bud Ogden-Porter), and Nicholas Rodriguez (Will Ogden).

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