B.J. came to New York City with a dream: to be the first transgendered performer on the Grand Ole Opry stage. This desire sets off B.J.: The Trail of a Transgendered Country Singing Star, which opened April 6 at the Grove Street Playhouse. Performances began March 29 for a run through April 22.
In a 21-character solo salute to a young southerner on a crash course with fame, B.J. takes writer-performer Scott Hess from 15-year-old shy boy with only a homemade halter top to country singing sensation. Along the way, he meets a variety of characters, including drag queen mentor Lady Charade, the stressed-out talent agent Ida Parker, who lands B.J. his first gig on the Howard Stern Show, and even infamous MTV VJ Downtown Julie Brown.
Hess workshopped B.J. at HERE, moving on the to 1999 New York International Fringe Festival, where it won the Jury Prize for Outstanding Solo Performance. Other credits include Dream Analysis at the Joyce Theatre and various roles in Varla Jean Merman's A Christmas Concert.
Obie winner David Drake (The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me) directs. Best recognized as an actor (Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Pageant), Drake stars in the film version of his self-penned Larry Kramer, making its world premiere at the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival in April, 2000. US distribution of the film is expected in the summer.
Tickets are $20. The Grove Street Playhouse is located at 39 Grove Street. For tickets, call (646) 486-0567. -- By Christine Ehren