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Stage Reviews : Fringe Festival : An Evening Of Gay-lesbian Theater

September 04, 1987|RAY LOYND

The "Flying Colors" send-off for the Fringe Festival's "Purple Stages," a cornucopia about to unfold under the aegis of the Gay and Lesbian Theater Alliance, sputtered Tuesday night at the John Anson Ford Theatre.

The evening was ragged, starting 30 minutes late, running till nearly midnight, encumbered by pointless musical numbers (and a numbingly inept blond vocalist), and featured a co-host (Liz Torres) whose self-mocking narcissism paled fast. But we quibble.

The 350-or-so patrons in the 1,200-seat house warmly pulled for the show. Intended as a celebration of gay artistic themes and talent, most of the event was happily, as affable co-host Michael Kearns put it, "a gay Ed Sullivan show."

The political tone was understated until the final number when a member of the singing group Pursuit of Happiness declared: ". . . and we're not going away!" By that time a third of the crowd had. Most interesting were excerpts from coming Fringe dramas about lesbianism, still a relatively unplumbed subject in dramatic literature.

Snippets don't tell you much, but these gay female portraits were largely desultory, especially a bar scene from "Loose Ends" that ambled on so long and uneventfully that co-host Kearns was inspired to ask: "Was that the whole play?" Scenes from the lesbian works "Pulp and Circumstance" (from San Francisco's Theater Rhinoceros) and the comedy "Dessert" struck measures of curiosity.

The bloated affair was partially salvaged by three highlights: Jeff Carroll's earnest male stripper from "The Fairy Garden," David Gaines' desperate portrayal of late Andy Warhol movie actor Jackie Curtis from "Jackie," and beguiling singer-musician Ian Whitcomb.

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