BWW Interviews: Gerald McCullouch Talks Career and MOONLIGHT AND LOVE SONGS at GAYFEST NYC
There are many reasons for Hollywood actors to return to the stage and this weekend, Gerald McCullouch of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation fame is back in his home of New York for a very special production. McCullouch is proud to call both NY and LA home. As an award-winning actor, director, screenwriter and singer, McCullouch has done it all from stage to TV to film. BWW talked about his upcoming work and his ties to the LGBT community.
BWW: A bicoastal actor who seems to get his creative fulfillment from TV, film and stage - what made you decide to return to NYC for "Moonlight and Love Songs" by Scott C. Sickles?
Gerald McCullouch: The project itself. Not only has Scott created an incredibly impacting story that is written with such wit, but the role is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Moreover, the play is produced by such an important organization, GAYFEST NYC, which benefits the Harvey Milk High School. GAYFEST NYC has not only created a Playwriting Program at the school, but has awarded more than 40 scholarships to graduating seniors.
BWW: That is really wonderful!
McCullouch: Harvey Milk High School is a fully accredited, voluntary NYC public high school focused 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. There was no way in the world I was going to pass this up. I'm in love with Scott's play and my journey in his story and very passionate about the importance of GAYFEST NYC. Which, between you and me, I wish had a different name. But tomato, tomahto.
BWW: "Let's call the whole thing off..." Tell us a little about the play?
McCullouch: Holy crap. It's one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking stories I've ever experienced. I'm talking E.T. impacting. In "Moonlight and Love Songs" I play a 45 year old architect spending most of my life rather unsuccessful in finding an appropriate companion. Other than the movies. Unexpectedly, a beautiful and engaging 20 year old young man comes into my life - played by the incredibly talented and handsome Nick Bailey - and I finally get to experience true love. Or so I think. A staggering revelation causes my whole world to implode. In a very public fashion. It is the epitome of betrayal and forever changes me and all those in my life. Yet, there is always hope. And time. And Scott's play tells this story in a setting that is unforgettable.
BWW: I'm really looking forward to attending this weekend.
McCullouch: And I must give kudos to our director, Steven Petrillo, who has unearthed such beauty in how this story is being told. I am thoroughly impressed with the entire design team. It's going to be a beautiful production and will hopefully have a life after the festival.
BWW: GAYFEST NYC is in their 5th season and seems proud to show new voices with each of these plays. How important do you feel that is for the LGBT and the theater communities?
McCullouch: In a word - dire. Let me first make an amendment though. Yes, this is the 5th season of GAYFEST NYC, however the festival did not occur over the past two years. So this is a special season and an important one with the current cultural awareness of the tragic consequences bullying can have and the importance in providing kids a safe haven.
BWW: Such an important topic to keep in the forefront of people's minds. And thanks for clarifying the history of the organization for me.
McCullouch: The producers, Jack W. Batman and Bruce Robert Harris have had their hands full with more than a few Broadway and Off Broadway hits and pocketed a few Tonys since the festival was last produced. Luckily, through generous corporate sponsorships and Bruce and Jack's passion over not only having "Moonlight and Love Songs" produced, but also the festival's follow up play, "The Loves of Mr Lincoln", GAYFEST NYC is back this year. And I'm honored to be a part of it.
BWW: The theater has been full of members of the LGBT community for years - sometimes when the world didn't even know it.
McCullouch: Where would the world be without Larry Kramer? Without Tony Kushner? Harvey Fierstein? Christopher Durang? Michael Cunningham? Tennessee Williams? I could go on and on. And on and on and on. There was a time when each of those gay men were "new voices". Not only the LGBT community needs our own storytellers, but the whole world needs our story tellers.
BWW: As you mentioned, this play deals with some strong themes of an older/younger relationship. That particular relationship is but one type in the gay community - sometimes obsessed with aging. You did another play called "Daddy" - do you feel it's important for audiences to understand this type of relationship?
McCullouch: Oddly enough, before "Daddy" was produced in LA, it had its world premiere directly upstairs from the Abington Theatre where "Moonlight" is playing. What a trip, huh?
BWW: I love when the universe gives us moments like that!
McCullouch: "Daddy" is becoming a film thanks to prolific indie producer Stephen Israel and I'm very excited about its evolution. Similar to "Daddy", and similar to both films "BearCity" and "BearCity 2: The Proposal", I've been rather submersed in this subject matter. However, I'm attracted to the larger themes of these stories. About self acceptance, and hope, and finding love when you least expect it as well as letting go of love when it's necessary no matter how heartbreaking that can be. Those themes are universal. And aspects of these stories that I feel make them important ones to be told. Yes, they all investigate the trials and tribulations of cross-generational relationships, but they also all elucidate that love is love. And I think that's a powerful message to stand behind.
BWW: So well said! I'm drawn to you as actor not only because of your obvious amazing talents, but due to the fact that you can play such an array of characters: from your work on CSI to House to Bones and what I've caught you on recently with the web series Hustling - all so different. I'm in awe that you continue to return to gay-themed works; stage and screen. What draws you to these works?
McCullouch: Wow. That was an amazing amount of smoke you just blew up my derrière.
BWW: It's all true! I swear.
McCullouch: You're making me blush. The stories and the opportunity to work with such crazy ass amazing people - I mean the unforgettable experiences each of these projects has brought and still brings into my life makes me so f*^&in' happy. Pardon my French.
BWW: You were honored as one of the year's OUT 100 by Out Magazine and we definitely need people like you not afraid to show that gay men can be so many things. So a huge tip of the hat. What comes next for you?
McCullouch: Thankfully, I have a few projects coming up after "Moonlight and Love Songs" closes. I'll be doing the new play "Cover" to be directed by the brilliant David Drake, and then I've got a few indies by a few directors I'm excited to work with - a new suspense horror film called "Bloodline" helmed by director/writer Richard LeMay and produced by Academy Award Nominated Producer Rodrigo Bellot and "Children Of God" director/writer Kareem Mortimer's next feature. Then the 3rd season of Sebastian LaCause's snazzy web series Hustling kicks up in the fall - in which I'm thrilled to be amongst a cast that not only includes Daphne Rubin-Vega and Wilson Cruz but four of my "BearCity" compadres as well.
And then we aim to go into production on "Daddy" this winter. Plus a few months ago I agreed to write a column for Times Square Gossip after a column I was writing for The Advocate.com wrapped up, so that keeps me busy as well.
BWW: Wow! You are busy and it makes me thank you even more for taking the time to join us today.
Performances of "Moonlight and Love Songs" begin Thursday, May 23 and will continue through Sunday, June 2, 2013 at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex (312 West 36th Street). Opening night is Friday, May 24, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. "The Loves of Mr. Lincoln" runs June 6-16, 2013. All proceeds from GAYFEST NYC benefit the Harvey Milk High School. Information can be found at gayfestnyc.com.
From This Author Gregory G. Allen