This spring, Second Stage Theater will present two plays with gay storylines at the forefront. It wasn’t planned that way, but the pandemic pushed back the Broadway revival of Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out, which started March 10 at the Helen Hayes and will run parallel to JC Lee’s To My Girls, beginning March 22 at the Tony Kiser Off-Broadway.
Take Me Out follows Darren Lemming, the star center fielder for the Empires, who comes out of the closet, revealing long-held unspoken prejudices off the field. To My Girls is a post-pandemic comedy that explores how life has changed for three different generations of gay men as they reconnect their friend circle.
Playbill chats with Rothman about the two works, how they came to Second Stage, and more.
Why did Second Stage decide to produce a revival of Take Me Out?
I kept thinking that the situation would change, that there would be more men in sports that would come out as gay and there just haven’t been many. So, it still seemed like a very viable show, and I thought the combination of America’s love of sports and the idea of the show, which is about coming out, was just such a good juxtaposition. It’s really important to see some role models. Here’s this gay man who is the star of a baseball team, who has come out, and is successful.
How did To My Girls come to Second Stage?
We had commissioned JC Lee four or five years ago to write a play, and he became very busy writing for television [with shows like Love, Victor; Looking; and How to Get Away With Murder]. I think the pandemic gave JC a chance to sit down and write. This was after Biden was elected. Before, everybody was just too depressed to write anything.
We started a conversation, and he wanted to write a play about a group of gay men that are his contemporaries—about friends that were coming together after the pandemic was over, because he wanted it to be a healing play. I think the two plays are in conversation with each other, even though they’re written by two totally different playwrights and with different perspectives on what it means to be a gay man.
In what ways do these works align with Second Stage’s artistic mission?
We always want to have very diverse voices on our stage and different stories. These are both interesting and fascinating stories. It’s important that we produce shows that are accessible to everyone but are still very specific in that they often portray an experience that isn’t universal. I love stories about people that lead me into different lives and open my mind. Isn’t that what theatre is? It’s transformational.
That’s one of the things the Second Stage has always done, just open a book to a different world that you might not be as familiar with. Still, accessibility is key. You don’t want to feel that an audience is cut out, you want to feel that everybody can relate to all the shows we do in no matter what way.
What excites you most about these shows?
I think we’re going to get really different reactions from all kinds of people and yet there’s a conversation that’s happening between the plays.