Philly’s LGBT Theater Festival Kicks Off Tonight With Sexy Clowns

The 2013 GayFest! launches with two main-stage productions, a gala and a duo of sexed-up clowns from Kansas City.

The third anniversary of GayFest! sees Philly’s sole LGBT theater festival quickly becoming a staple in the city’s yearly event schedule. What started as a humble, four-production affair in 2011 is now a blowout event spanning three weeks and four venues across the city. And have you seen all the flags in the Gayborhood?!

Quince Productions founder and GayFest! producer Rich Rubin says 2013’s festival includes four main-stage plays (that’s two world premieres, thank you), three staged readings, a gala and 10 “one-night stands” comprising everything from comedy to theater and cabaret. That’s a hectic schedule that he admits can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s made easier thanks to folks in the community who are stepping up to lend a hand. 

“People have rallied around in a way that’s been very different from the first two festivals,” he says. “They’ve seen that it’s been successful [and] that it’s here to stay” — a refreshing thought after Philadelphia lost the seven-year-old Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival in 2009. “People are realizing that this is a good thing for our community and for the theater community. … If Philadelphia is going to be a diverse, forward-looking city, it’s important that festivals like this exist.”

It al begins tonight with Kansas City gay-clown bonanza Cirque du Gay, and an official Broadway-themed kickoff party at Tabu. Then it’s on to the main-stage offerings: a world premiere by Brooklyn lesbian playwright Sarah Pappalardo and the Philly premiere of Phillip Dawkins’ critically acclaimed The Homosexuals. See the full schedule for what’s happening this week below, and be sure to check back at G Philly for lots more GayFest! coverage.

The festival opens with out-of-town clown duo Dennis Porter and Peyton Westfall’s Kansas City Fringe Festival hit that pulls back the stage curtain to show the audience what goes on behind the circus tent. What ensues promises to be a not-for-kids evening of music, magic and even a little S&M all rolled into one. FYI: There will be a meet-and-greet reception following the first night’s performance.  Tue., and Wed., Aug. 6-7, 7 p.m., Plays and Players Theater, 1714 Delancey Place, click here for ticket links.

The divine Cleo Phatra will belt out Broadway tunes at the official GayFest! kickoff party.

No gay event would be complete without an official kickoff party, and GayFest! is getting opening-night treatment with an evening of Broadway and drag queens at Tabu. DJ Ryan Alexander will provide the music — a nice change-of-pace selection of modern swing music and Broadway hits performed by the fab Miss Cleo Phatra, and other A-plus queens Stella D’Oro, Anita Manhattan and Iris Spectre. 9:30 p.m., free, Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, 200 S. 12th St.

The L’s and T’s take the spotlight in playwright Sarah Pappalardo’s world-premiere drama about a downtrodden, lesbian bar owner and the trans man who helps her find the light after a near-devastating life change. William Steinberger directs. Preview performance on Thu., Aug. 8, $20, 7 p.m.; opens Sat., Aug. 10 and runs through Sat., Aug. 24, various times, $25, Plays and Players Theater, click here for tickets.

Phillip Dawkins’ Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated play follows Evan (played by Zachary Chiero) to a party full of strangers, where he encounters a whirlwind of characters that throw him for a life-changing loop. The show has been praised by critics for its smart representation of modern gay-male stereoptypes and its ability to represent “the fears, doubts and hopes faced by gay men in the first decade of the 21st century.” GayFest! marks the first time this has been seen on a stage in Philadelphia. Preview performance on Fri., Aug. 9, 7 p.m.$20; opens Sat., Aug. 10 and runs through Sat., Aug. 24, $25, Plays and Players, click here for tickets.

The 2013 GayFest! runs Aug. 6-24. For more information, calendars and ticket links, visit

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