The company of Trolls took up residence at Actors Playhouse (former home to Naked Boys Singing and Marijuana-Logues) May 4. The new musical that is titled after an epithet used in the gay community to indicate older and — often inaccurately — desperate-seeming gay men had its world premiere in Los Angeles in 2001.
Writers Bill Dyer (book and lyrics) and Dick DeBenedictis (music) aren't out to bash gay men of a certain age, but to apparently reclaim the word in a lighthearted and empowering way. This is the show that asks, "Is life gay after 40?"
The cover of the Playbill doesn't show a withered fright of a man clutching a younger man. Rather, trim, middle-aged and handsome Christian Whelan has his arms around trim, younger and handsome Bram Heidinger. At least on the cover of it, a troll can be an attractive thing, after all.
The staging is presented by DBD Productions, Edmund Gaynes, Pamela Hall. Pamela Hall (Picon Pie) directs, with choreography by John Hoshko. Featured in the cast are Mark Baker (a Tony Award nominee for Hal Prince's 1970s reconsideration of Candide) as Terry, Bram Heidinger, Albert Insinnia (Joseph Papp's musical Two Gentlemen of Verona musical), Barry McNabb (Irish Rep's The Hostage), Brynn Neal (State Fair national tour), Dale Radunz (Prince Music Theatre's Chasing Nicolette), James Van Treuren (Broadway's The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Christian Whelan (Zoser in the first national tour of Aida).
The action takes place in Terry's West Hollywood apartment in 1998.
According to the producers, "Trolls explores the lives of middle-aged gay men who realize that 'growing old isn't for sissies.' Through song and dance, laughter and tears, these 'trolls' not only celebrate a departed friend's life but also rediscover the ability to celebrate their own as they address the universal themes of aging, relationships and the undying kinship of true friends."
The show is billed as a sort of meeting of The Boys in the Band and The Sunshine Boys.
Expect song titles such as "Trolls," "Work It!," Whatever Happened?," "Will Someone Remember Me?," "Gay Caballeros," "If I Could Live My Life Again" and more.
Production designers include Matt Maraffi (scenic design), Graham Kindred (lighting) and Karl A. Ruckdeschel (costume). Carl Danielsen is musical director.
Lyricist-librettist Bill Dyer has written lyrics and special material for television including "The Tony Awards," "Ziegfeld, The Man and His Women," "The Family Holvak," "Dorothy," "Columbo" and for the musical specials and concerts of Mitzi Gaynor, Melissa Manchester, John Denver, Lorna Luft, Ben Vereen and Diana Ross. He has received three Emmy nominations and co-produced the Broadway debut of Sir Derek Jacobi in The Suicide and Get Happy – The Music of Harold Arlen at the Westwood Playhouse in Los Angeles. He has collaborated with composers Billy Goldenberg, Jonathan Tunick and Bob Prince.
Richard DeBenedictis began his career as dance music arranger for such Broadway musicals as Do I Hear a Waltz, Fade Out – Fade In, Bajour and the Lincoln Center revivals of Annie Get Your Gun and Show Boat . In Hollywood, he created the dance music for "The Night They Raided Minsky's" and served as special consultant for "Funny Lady." He also wrote the score for "The Earthling," William Holden's last film. He has been honored with nine Emmy nominations for his TV work that includes "Diagnosis Murder," "Matlock," "Father Dowling Mysteries," "Jake and the Fatman," all 38 installments of the "Perry Mason" TV movies, as well as "Columbo," "Murder She Wrote," "Quincy, M.E.," "Hawaii Five-O," and "The Rockford Files," among many others.
Actors Playhouse, the former site of Naked Boys Singing at Marijuana-Logues , is at 100 Seventh Avenue South, between Christopher and Bleecker Streets, in Greenwich Village.
Performances of Trolls play Monday, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM, Sunday evenings at 7 PM, with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 3 PM. Tickets are $55 and are available from Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200.