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by Michael Portantiere


    The Kid Has Two Dads

    It usually takes the theater a few years to reflect current events. That said, it's a little surprising that only now are we starting to see shows dealing with a fact of life that has become more and more common over the past two decades or so: gay couples having children, by various methods. One of the first shows in this genre opens tonight (May 10) at Theatre Row: The Kid, a smart, funny, and touching new musical with a book by Michael Zam, lyrics by Jack Lechner, and music by Andy Monroe, directed by Scott Elliott.

    Based on the book of the same title by sex advice columnist Dan Savage, The Kid is all about what happened when Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, decided to bring a baby into their lives. Just prior to a recent preview performance, I caught up with Christopher Sieber and Lucas Steele, who respectively play Dan and Terry and who both are jazzed to be involved in a project that truly deserves the label "groundbreaking."


    BROADWAYSTARS: Dan Savage is quite famous as a sex advice columnist; Terry Miller is less well known. Was physical resemblance to the actual Dan and Terry an issue in terms of casting this show?

    CHRISTOPHER SIEBER: God, no! People ask that a lot. Fortunately, we don't have to do a life study of these two. It would drive me crazy if I felt I had to study Dan Savage and recreate his mannerisms.

    LUCAS STEELE: In the book, the first time Dan mentions Terry, he refers to him "the boy with the long, blond hair and the big lips." I guess that's why I popped into Scott Elliott's mind, although now Terry has short hair.

    STARS: It must be very exciting to be in a musical about gay parenting.

    CHRIS: It's definitely a unique story -- one that I don't think has ever been told on stage before, especially from the point of view of two gay men. It's funny, some of the older ladies who've seen the show, they love it so much. Two of them came up to Lucas and me after one of the first performances and they said, "It isn't a gay story, it's a love story!"

    LUCAS: Everyone has their own individual journey when it comes to adoption. What appeals to me most about this play is that it's about gay characters but it's not about them being closeted. So much gay theater that I know of is about someone hiding the fact that they're gay, and eventually coming out.

    CHRIS: For me, what makes this story interesting is that Terry and Dan's relationship is so fiery and passionate. They argue all the time, but they do it with a little more bite than most couples. Dan is so sarcastic and ironic in his writing, and his personality definitely comes through in the show.

    LUCAS: Yes. I think the story really lends itself to being musicalized -- all that witty banter.

    STARS: Would you say that gay theater is by now part of the mainstream?

    CHRIS: Definitely. Look at the stuff that's out there now: The Temperamentals, Next Fall, Yank!, La Cage...

    LUCAS: And Angels in America is coming back. I look forward to seeing the new school of plays involving gay characters, because as I said, I do feel there's been a lot of rehashing.

    STARS: Do you think we'll see a lot of plays about gay marriage in the coming years?

    CHRIS: I'm sure people are writing them. I did the original production of Bill C. Davis's Avow in the late '90s. It's about two gay men struggling with their religious identities and whether or not they want to get married in church. I think that play was just a few years ahead of its time.

    STARS: Chris, you said in an interview in the Gay City News that you'd be a terrible father. Were you exaggerating?

    CHRIS: No! Look in my refrigerator -- it's empty. At the market, I always grab pre-made food, because I don't make things. If there's nothing in the fridge, I just don't eat.

    STARS: So it's primarily a food issue?

    CHRIS: Yes, but also, I'm so frenetic. I'm all over the place all the time. I love my nieces and nephews, and my friends' kids, but I just don't think I'd be a very good father.

    STARS: And what about you, Lucas?

    LUCAS: I "mannied" for a couple of years and took care of some kids, but at the end of the day, I always got to leave. I think I would be a good dad, but right now, it's just not in the realm of reality for me. Maybe that will change.

    CHRIS: I can see this interview now: "We hate children!" But that's not true. I guess it would be nice to have someone to help do the dishes, take out the trash, and walk the dog. "Do your chores, kids!"

    STARS: I've heard some stories of gays adopting children that unfortunately made it sound like they were doing it for the wrong reasons. But, of course, some straight couples are also ill-equipped to raise kids, for one reason or another.

    CHRIS: Everyone should have the right to be parents. That doesn't mean you're going to be good at it. My parents said to me the other day, "We didn't know what we were doing, but you turned out okay." You just do the best you can. It's funny to look at my friends who are parents: Whenever a couple has their first child, they're so neurotic and overprotective, it's like they bubble-wrap the kid. Then the second one comes around, and it's like, "Where's the baby? Ah, he'll be okay; he's running around somewhere, playing with a broken bottle."

    LUCAS: I think this show is a very moving portrait of this family. It's going to be amazing for the child, DJ, to be able to read the book and see the show when he grows up. He's 12 now, and he's coming to opening night.

    CHRIS: Dan, Terry, and DJ are all coming. Dan came to our second preview; no one told me beforehand, thank goodness. We all went out afterward to the West Bank Café, and I asked him what he thought about seeing actors play out this part of his life. He said, "It's freaky!"

    LUCAS: Dan and Terry both came to our first reading, but we haven't met DJ yet.

    CHRIS: It's going to be very weird to finally meet this kid, since we already have an emotional attachment to him.

    Monday, May 10, 2010 at 8:28 AM | Item Link

    Michael Portantiere comes to BroadwayStars with more than 30 years' experience as an editor and writer for such media outlets as TheaterMania.com, InTHEATER magazine, and BACK STAGE. He has also contributed articles and reviews to AfterElton.com, Playbill, and Stagebill, and has written notes for several major cast albums. Additionally, Michael is a professional photographer whose pictures have been published by THE NEW YORK TIMES, the DAILY NEWS, and several notable websites. (Visit www.followspotphoto.com for more information.)
    He can be reached at [email protected]

    The last five columns written by Michael Portantiere:

    07/13/2010: Presidential Material

    07/04/2010: Hardy Boy

    06/29/2010: High School Stars

    06/21/2010: Falling in Love Again

    06/17/2010: A Meeting of the 'mos (and Their Friends)

    For a listing of all features written by Michael, click here.