“The Nance,” a new play that deals in sexual identity on and offstage, opened Monday at the Lyceum Theater.
Two-time Tony winner Nathan Lane stars as Chauncey Miles, a performer during the dying days of burlesque who plays up effeminate gay stereotypes for a laugh. In the 1930s, straight men usually (and safely) played these stock characters -- known as nances -- except in Chauncey’s case.
The play, written by Douglas Carter Beane (“Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” “The Little Dog Laughed”), is a balance between Chauncey’s upbeat burlesque and his hidden heartbreak as he tries to reconcile his onstage persona and his offstage love with Ned (Jonny Orsini).
Directed by Jack O'Brien, “The Nance” marks Lane’s return to Broadway after a two-year absence. The first reviews from New York are in and, while some critics wrote that Beane’s production at times tries to encompass too much, Lane’s return to the stage is a welcome one.