Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: STEVE, or Here's To The Gentlemen Who Sup

Quick study guide for keeping track of who's who in Mark Gerrard's tragicomedy, STEVE:

  • Steven: Unsuccessful musical theatre hopeful, now a stay-at-home dad with a midlife crisis.
  • Stephen: Steven's romantic partner, a lawyer.
  • Steve: A personal trainer, talked about but not seen.
  • Stephen Sondheim: The composer/lyricist whose songs keep getting quoted throughout the play. Also not seen.
  • Esteban: A guy from Argentina who just keeps popping up.
Francisco Pryor Garat, Matt McGrath and Ashlie Atkinson
(Photo: Monique Carboni)

If you somehow missed your latest constitutional fix at Marie's Crisis, you can make up for it a bit by arriving fifteen minutes early for The New Group's production of STEVE, the sophomore directorial effort by Cynthia Nixon after a very successful debut last season with the company's RASHEEDA SPEAKING.

Cast member Malcolm Gets, who will eventually appear as Stephen (the lawyer) sits at an upright piano, playing some standard showtunes for our enjoyment. After a few choruses, cast members begin entering one by one, thumbing through sheet music and picking their favorite golden age hits to belt. They're not performing for the audience, just pals amusing themselves.

Ninety minutes later, they sing another beloved old standard. This time they're putting on a show and sending the crowd out with a smile.

In between is Gerrard's play, an earnest effort that runs on its scattered charms in lieu of a plot. Steven (Matt McGrath) and his dear friend Carrie (Ashlie Atkinson), whose head scarf covers her post-dialysis scalp, are the first to arrive at the nice restaurant where the gang is celebrating his 47th birthday. They met while waiting tables at a piano bar with Matt (Mario Cantone), who arrives with his husband, Brian (Jerry Dixon). Cantone and Dixon are also married in real life and their chemistry is quite charming.

Malcolm Gets, Jerry Dixon, Mario Cantone and Matt McGrath
(Photo: Monique Carboni)

It's obvious that something's bothering Steven because he keeps quoting COMPANY and even orders a vodka stinger. (Yes, the play takes place in 2015.)

The discomfort gets thicker when Stephen arrives and it's not just because the discovery of waiter Esteban's (Francisco Pryor Garat) national origin sparks an EVITA quote-fest. Steven lets it be known that he knows Stephen and Brian have been sexting... or maybe he doesn't. It's one of those plays.

Stephen and Steven's relationship deteriorates, as does Carrie's health, but Matt and Brian seem to have fortified their relationship with the inclusion of personal trainer Steve. (Again, he's not seen.)

This all leads to a sentimental Fire Island gathering that keeps edging toward a chorus of Sondheim's "Old Friends." That's because the only time STEVE seems to be awake is when the characters banter about Audra McDonald, PACIFIC OVERTURES, Kristin Chenoweth and whatnot. The cast is very strong, especially in the dexterity with which McGrath and Cantone realistically play different degrees of flamboyant gay characters without slipping into stereotypes, but while the score is a classic, STEVE has book problems.

TodayTix Black Friday

Related Stories
BWW Review:  BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE is Funny & Sweet & Sexy & E Photo
If the open hardcover copy of Thomas A. Harris, M.D.'s 1967 self-help bible 'I'm OK - You're OK' casually placed upon an ottoman makes you chuckle a bit as you settle down for The New Group's latest endeavor, you're of a proper mindset to enjoy Duncan Sheik (music/lyrics), Amanda Green (lyrics) and Jonathan Marc Sherman's sweet, funny and endearing new easy chamber musical BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE.

BWW Interview: Joel Perez Talks Swinging New Musical BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE Photo
The New Group is taking audiences back to the swinging 60's with BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE. The fascinating new piece has a lot to say about love, relationships, and - of course - sex. Following a recent performance, BroadwayWorld sat down with Joél Pérez, who plays Bob, to unpack the show and discover what's under the covers.

BWW Review: Donja R. Loves Absurdist Drama one in two Demands Attention For Black Gay Male Photo
When you consider that the two best-known plays by American authors dealing with the AIDS epidemic, Larry Kramer's THE NORMAL HEART and Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA, are both decades old and set in the 1980s, it's no wonder if playgoers tend to think of the crisis as something of the past which is now primarily under control. Even Matthew Lopez's current, THE INHERITANCE, though set in the 21st Century, focuses on the loss of gay men of that preceding generation.

From This Author - Michael Dale

Sunday Morning Michael Dale:  My Favorite Cease and Desist LettersSunday Morning Michael Dale: My Favorite Cease and Desist Letters
August 14, 2022

A while back. I was in an audience of theatre fans watching an onstage conversation between Frank Rich and Stephen Sondheim and the subject of unauthorized changes made in regional and amateur productions came up. The composer/lyricist mentioned that he had heard of a production of Company that ended with Bobby committing suicide by shooting himself.

Sunday Morning Michael Dale:  Dear Funny Girl:  Let Julie Benko Sing!Sunday Morning Michael Dale: Dear Funny Girl: Let Julie Benko Sing!
August 7, 2022

Like many theatre fans, I'd been reading the raves she's been getting as Beanie Feldstein's standby, and since I doubted press would be offered comps during her run, I sprung for a ticket to see for myself.

Sunday Morning Michael Dale:  Alison Fraser Thrillingly Reinvents Cat On A Hot Tin Roof's Big MamaSunday Morning Michael Dale: Alison Fraser Thrillingly Reinvents Cat On A Hot Tin Roof's Big Mama
July 31, 2022

A popular stage actor best known for being quirkily funny in musicals (Off-Broadway in March Of The Falsettos, on Broadway in Romance, Romance, The Secret Garden and Gypsy), Fraser reinvents a classic character and turns in a performance that thrills with its gutsy power masked by her character's well-rehearsed elegance.

Sunday Morning Michael Dale:  All Singing! All Dancing! All Legal!  Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville Opens at La MaMaSunday Morning Michael Dale: All Singing! All Dancing! All Legal! Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville Opens at La MaMa
July 24, 2022

A collaboration of two of Off-Off-Broadway's favorite historically subversive companies, the HERE production of Cannabis! A Viper Vaudeville, presented at La Mama is an entrancingly fun and educational two-hour festival of song, dance and spoken word, beginning as a relaxing communal experience and evolving into a call for activism.

Sunday Morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian Children Coming To Brooklyn in a Play They Premiered in a Bomb ShelterSunday Morning Michael Dale: Ukrainian Children Coming To Brooklyn in a Play They Premiered in a Bomb Shelter
July 17, 2022

Irondale is arranging for Ukrainian solider Oleg Onechchak's ensemble of child actors to give two performances in Brooklyn of Mom On Skype, which was originally performed in a warehouse-turned-bomb-shelter in the city of Lviv.