GAYFEST NYC returns stronger than before By Kevin M. Thomas

Gerald McCullouch and Nick Bailey Photo: Carlos Gustavo Monroy

Gerald McCullouch and Nick Bailey Photo: Carlos Gustavo Monroy

The Fifth GAYFEST NYC opened recently with a terrific play entitled, “Moonlight & Love Songs.” If the opening play is any indication, we’re in for a terrific festival.

It’s not the fifth annual as the festival has not been around for the past few years. It should be welcomed back with great regalia as it not only does a service to gay playwrights and actors everywhere, but it benefits the Harvey Milk High School in New York.

The Harvey Milk High School focuses on the educational needs of teenagers who are in crisis or at risk of physical violence and/or emotional harm in a traditional educational environment. GAYFEST is committed to sharing its gifts and its dollars with the next generation of LGBT Americans and, to this end, monies raised through ticket sales and other specialized fundraising efforts throughout the year are used to provide classes, mentoring programs and scholarships for students of the Harvey Milk High School.

Since June 2007, GAYFEST has presented forty scholarships to graduating seniors of Harvey Milk High School and has initiated and financed programming, including the current professionally-taught playwriting class that has become one of the most popular accredited elective classes at the school.

And while all of that is well and good, you still get quality theatre as demonstrated with “Moonlight,” a tale showcasing a gay May/December romance, filled with truth, prejudice and humor. Writer Scott C. Sickles has taken a story we seemed we have heard before,  and put a surprising spin on it, with characters who utter famous movie lines, paying homage to classic love stories while unraveling his own tale.

Gerald McCullouch and Nick Baily Photo: Carlos Gustavo Monroy

Gerald McCullouch and Nick Baily Photo: Carlos Gustavo Monroy

Gerald McCullouch plays the older of the star-crossed lovers,  and he reminds us of what a great talent he truly is. At home in a gay role or a straight one, McCullouch proves that orientation does not make the part, the actor does. He actually is just one part of a magnificent ensemble which also includes Nick Bailey as his much younger lover and Kathryn Markey as his scene stealing sister.

“Moonlight” also brings up the question – should their be age boundaries between two people truly in love. Very topical these days, especially on the wake of dating website Plenty of Fish deciding that people searching for mates cannot look no more than 14 years younger or older than they are.

Kudos to all involved. “Moonlight” plays the festival through June 2.

With an opening such as this, there is great hope for the next production, the revival of “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde.”

Writer Moises Kaufman, who originally wrote this as a thesis at Carnegie Mellon, uses a documentary approach to bringing the works of Oscar Wilde to a modern society. Through Kaufman’s play, we’re able to see how timeless Oscar Wilde was and how his stories are always relatable.

“Gross” plays May 30–June 16.

"Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde" Carlos Gustavo Monroy

“Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” Carlos Gustavo Monroy

The festival also features the very intriguing “The Loves of Lincoln.” Since this is called GAYFEST  this show obviously delves into the speculation that President Abraham Lincoln may have had some gay tendencies.

The play with songs is not written from a tabloid perspective. But writer, noted Poet David Brendan Hopes, actually takes letters between Lincoln and his “best friend” Joshua Speed and use them as a basis of this story.

“Lincoln” plays June 6-16.

Whether you see one or all, GAYFEST has truly amazing plays at a fraction of the cost of your typical Off-Broadway show. And, you’d be benefiting a good cause at the same time.

So get full details on the shows and to make a donation, go to www.gayfestny.com.