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'Old Song' Doesn't Soothe the Heart

November 24, 2000|JANA J. MONJI

When you've grown up as the object of men's affection, it isn't easy growing old. Although that's more commonly the lament of women, it's also the dilemma of gay men. In Larry Dean Harris' "Like an Old Song," a Playwrights 6 production at the Hudson Avenue Theatre, a group of older gay men bicker, gripe and bond before the specter of old age and an act of hooliganism.

Harris includes some music and dancing that fit uneasily around a conventional and too convenient plot. During 48 hours at a supper club/bar that caters to mature gay men in Florida, the owner (Martin Durante) reminisces about his deceased lover, an older man (Dan Gilvary) discovers his younger partner's (Craig Alan Curtis) flirtation with a wealthy man, an alcoholic community college instructor's (Ed O'Ross) tragedy is revealed, a swishy decorator (Sammy Williams) loses his beloved (hint: It has four wheels), a man (Paul Murray) is forced out of the closet, and one man's (Gary Bullock) deepest secret is revealed (his age). The bar's newly hired young singer (Brian Poth) arouses spring chicken jokes from the bar regulars.

Williams, who was so charming in last year's "Too Old for the Chorus"--a much better riff on ageism--plays a silly queen here, mugging, blinking and prancing as he trades snippy repartee with Bullock's more languid, snobby Alex. The wit has some snap but not enough snarl. Director David Nathan Schwartz doesn't build the edgy nuances that you might expect from old acquaintances with real and imagined grudges.

Harris' script remains essentially a sitcom. The threat of unseen drunken teenagers breaking the club's windows and wrecking the cars in the parking lot is flaccid, and the whole production could use a heavy dose of dramatic Viagra. Unlike the songs mentioned in passing, this isn't a classic but a unremarkable ditty that might amuse, but never really makes your heart sing.

*

* "Like an Old Song," Hudson Avenue Theatre, 6537 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends Jan. 14. $15. (323) 666-6086. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

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