San Fran's New Conservatory Premieres LEGION; Brings Crumple Zone, Avow West

News   San Fran's New Conservatory Premieres LEGION; Brings Crumple Zone, Avow West San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center ends Pride Season Six July 14 with The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, but the company, dedicated to presenting gay and lesbian theatre in the Bay Area, is already set for Pride Season Seven. Among the offerings in 2001-02 are the world premiere of Hal Corey's LEGION and the West Coast premieres of Avow, The Crumple Zone and Shakespeare's R&J.

San Francisco's New Conservatory Theatre Center ends Pride Season Six July 14 with The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, but the company, dedicated to presenting gay and lesbian theatre in the Bay Area, is already set for Pride Season Seven. Among the offerings in 2001-02 are the world premiere of Hal Corey's LEGION and the West Coast premieres of Avow, The Crumple Zone and Shakespeare's R&J.

Set in the early 1980's, LEGION finds two suburban married men chatting over beer and snacks at Super Bowl Party. To their surprise and fear, Jonah and Sylvester find themselves in an erotic embrace. During the next twenty years, they discover a legion of husbands like themselves, who live double lives, loving their wives and other men. LEGION runs Jan. 9-April 6, 2002.

Special to Pride Season Seven, the New Conservatory stages Bill C. Davis' Avow Aug. 15-Oct. 20. The drama, which had a short run Off Broadway in July-August 2000, brings lovers Brian and Tom together to be married in the Catholic Church by their liberal priest. When the priest refuses to perform the ceremony, the act carries repercussions throughout the three men's relationships, as one decides to become celibate and the priest yearns for one of the men's sister.

The Crumple Zone was a surprise hit in the 2000 Off-Broadway season. Buddy Thomas' comedy concerns three gay roommates Terry, Alex and Matt at the head of a crisis during the Christmas season. Set in a Staten Island apartment, The Crumple Zone looks at love and fidelity when Matt returns from a national tour of Salem's Lot, the Musical, to find boyfriend Alex has been cheating on him. The Crumple Zone runs Oct. 31-Jan. 12, 2002.

Another big Off-Broadway hit, Shakespeare's R&J makes its West Coast premiere April 24-June 29, 2002. Joe Calarco's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet places the romantic tragedy in a repressive all boys school, where four young men stage the play with a homoerotic edge. Pride Season Seven also includes revivals of Charles Ludlam's classic The Mystery of Irma Vep (Jan. 9-Feb. 23, 2002); Terrence McNally's farce The Ritz (May 15-June 29, 2002); and the Bay Area premiere of the Jim Brochu musical The Last Session (Oct. 17-Dec. 8).

Kicking off the new season, Charles Nelson Reilly will make a special appearance in his new one-man autobiographical show, Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly, playing Aug. 18-Sept. 9. Reilly, a staple on TV's "Match Game" and "Hollywood Squares," made his Broadway debut as Mr. Henkle in Bye, Bye, Birdie, was nominated for a Tony as the original Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly!, and received a Tony for his performance as the original Bud Frump in How To Succeed In Business.... His first directing assignment was The Belle of Amherst, starring Julie Harris. Harris and Reilly have worked on 12 plays together, including The Gin Game and the up-coming story of Alice B. Toklas, Staying on Alone by Bruce Kellner. Other Broadway directing credits include Paul Robeson with James Earl Jones, Break a Leg and The Nerd. Paul Linke directs the evening of comic remembrances from Reilly's first performance as Columbus at P.S. 153-4A to his current career.

The New Conservatory Theatre Center is located at 25 Van Ness Avenue near Market Street. For tickets, call (415) 861-8972. The New Conservatory Theatre Center is on the web at http://www.nctcsf.org.

— By Christine Ehren