BWW Reviews: I've Finally Got A Good Grasp of This
There is very little to say about this show, and unless that one sentence makes up the command of "GO AND SEE IT FOR THE LIFE OF YOU," I have no part in this whatsoever. If you want to enjoy a night of fun, rueful delight and exhausting laughter that makes you feel good in all the wrong places, Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man is the show that will satisfy your whims and yearnings for what is sure to be a pleasurable and stimulating experience for people of either gender or orientation (unfortunately, there is an appropriate age minimum here). So grab a drink, put it down and replace it with a program (you'll get that later on) and let the power of this show know your socks off...and whatever else might happen to leave you as Dan Anderson explains the basic rules of having a great sexual relationship.
Written by Matt Murphy and based on the book of the same name (potential birthday present...) by Dan Anderson and Maggie Berman, this production of Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man has made its way to the 777 Theatre for its world premiere this past Thursday, performing before a sold-out theatre whose audience was only too happy to be there; it was only natural for all to have a good time. Wouldn't you be happy (if not slightly turned on) if someone began to not only explain, but almost demonstrate the ways to make "that" experience more fun and productive?
The theatre is turned into this incredibly intimate yet carefree setting as the lights dim, making way for the three actors that make this undoubtedly one of the must-see shows of the year. With audience participation, cool sound and light effects, a wonderfully stimulating and engaging script, and an incredibly handsome and fit man name Stefan (who, we remind you, "is scientist, not a stripper"), this show is simply beautiful.
Sex Tips, under the direction of Tim Drucker and produced by Shawn Nightingale, begins on a rather tense note. It is the present day, and a few people have gathered for a forum at the Midtown Manhattan Community College campus, a forum that goes by the name of Rendezvous with Alternative Authors of the Modern Era. Or, as it more frequently goes by, RAA-ME. Hah, that's classic. Robyn (played by Lindsay Nicole Chambers), the forum's very modest, shy and professional moderator, has received the sudden news that the Professor who was meant to lead the affair has died, leaving her a guaranteed position if only she can make the afternoon's events something less than the mess it is about to turn into. She hasn't any idea of the book being discussed, and upon learning that it concerns discussions of sexual tips and whatnots, is greeted by Dan himself (Jason Michael Snow), who seems to pop out of the ether with the sole purpose of saving the day - that is, for Robyn and the audience alike. Robyn is clearly very prudent about such topics as sex and proper conduct in the bedroom, so what better way to learn than through the eyes of a gay man who is more than eager to impart his wisdom on this innocent doe who gradually begins to let her hair down?
No, that's a serious question.
There might not be anyone better to explain the ins and outs of the human sexual experience, as laid out in the six chapters of his most recent book, Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. Of course, there needs to be some sort of live tension on stage, provided by the presence of Stefan (Andrew Brewer), an incredibly attractive scientist who has come to the United States in hopes of making his mother proud. Well.
The play begins with the book's first chapter and makes its way through to the very end by the show's conclusion, trying every sort of antic to get the main gist of the book to the unsuspecting audience. From choosing how to present oneself at a bar, sensuously holding a drink and strutting your stuff to become an easy target for potential suitors, to learning the proper way to handle and massage that "special place" a man so covets (have your show programs hot and ready, people), there is enough action in this play to last you through the night. With audience participation and improvisation at its core, Sex Tips strives to provide a basic education of the sexual experience to those, like Robyn, who have yet to discover the wonders of meeting someone new and feeling confident enough of their character to wind up in the same bed.
Audience members engage in all sorts of experiments and forms of hands-on learning (sorry, the puns are inevitable): from joining the overly exuberant Dan in such touchy-feely activities to acting in the little scenarios he brings about to demonstrate a point to the mortified Robyn and sadistic audience who has to laugh at her discomfort, there is little to think about when watching this comedy. There is no discomfort or tension to be found in this show; it is really meant to be a feel-good experience (...) that has no boundaries. It is clearly a show about feelings, and since we are all adults, why not indulge in a little educational fun?
Speaking of feelings, Robyn has her own little adventure on stage, aside from the one Dan so excitedly makes her become a part of. Stefan has been eyeing her up and down, and with much restraint and propriety does Robyn at first reject him, only to gradually fall for him. Of course, with all this talk of striptease (and many outburst from the audience, male and female alike, for him to become the center of attention in one), everyone is raring to see this man finally get some action. Of course, this is what happens. With the last word coming from this guy sitting not to far away from me, shouting "take it off!" (yes, that's completely acceptable here), Stefan gives the show of a lifetime towards the end of the play, proving to all that Dan's persuasive tendencies and almost too accurate knowledge of sex appeal and the human body has no real right to be questioned.
Well done, Dan Anderson. Well done.
Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man is fantastic, and kudos must be given to all those who so nobly put this production together so that it may grace an Off-Broadway stage. These people include Luke Cantarella (scene design), Tilly Grimes (costume design), Brian Tovar (lighting design), and Randy Blair, who is responsible for video and sound design. This show and all it represents is truly revolutionary, introducing audiences (via text) to the relationship between women and gay men before many popular television shows made this concept so widely spoken of. The book itself has been published in Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, the Netherlands, Australia and England, and will come out in France this spring. It is a best-seller, and has now been transformed into a show that everyone should go and see. Whether male or female, in a relationship or single, Sex Tips makes everyone comfortable and accounted for, making sure a good time is had. Not just in that way. Such dirty minds, people.
Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man is holding performances at the 777 Theatre, located on 777 8th Avenue (between 47th and 48th). Performances began on January 22nd. The performance schedule is as follows: Mondays at 8pm, Tuesdays at 7pm, Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 7pm and 10pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 7pm. Tickets are priced at $49.69 and $69.69, with the option of buying a premium ticket ("The Wet Zone"), which includes priority seating and a complimentary cocktail; this ticket goes for $99.69. Tickets may be purchased at www.sextipsplay.com; any additional information on the show may also be found on this website. The show has a running time of 80 minutes without an intermission.
Enjoy the show!
Photo Credit: Bill Coyle