BWW Photo Coverage: YANK! A WWII LOVE STORY at 54 Below
When the YANK! 10th Anniversary Concert was announced, this cabaret photojournalist put his name down to cover the don't-miss event at Feinstein's/54 Below. About two weeks before the show, Broadway World Cabaret journalist Bobby Patrick received an email from Yank! creator David Zellnik, specifically asking our correspondent who specializes in LGBTQ+ themed theater if he would, kindly, be the writer to review their special evening. There was no other possible answer than Yes, so I relinquished my pad and pen to Bobby and attended as photographer. Bobby's rave review now online, I would like to share with the fans of YANK! the full photographic experience of the magnificent night of entertainment.
As an audience member and as a cabaret writer I enjoyed all of this extra special event. As a gay male, I was so moved to see the theater at 54 Below at capacity. I was thrilled to see that the clientele was more than just gay men (though the major share of the audience was, undeniably, male) and that the range of demographics at the show was wide. Especially enthralling were the two young women seated one table away in vintage 40's dress, hair and makeup. The love for YANK! continues today.
Speaking personally, it was particularly satisfying to observe the reverence held by everyone in the room of the importance of YANK! in the history of musical theater. We gay men of a certain age grew up without representation and YANK! happened at a time when, even though great advancements had been made in LGBTQ+ rights, there were greater advancements to come. Seeing a piece of theater so romantic and representative of what has always been in our hearts was of great value to us. On Monday night, listening to creators Joseph and David Zellnik (brothers, not husbands) discuss the process, having UK YANK! original cast members Scott Hunter, Andy Coxon, and Sarah-Louise share their experience with the show, hearing Brazil's Hugo Bonemer speak of YANK! being the first gay musical, and he the first out gay actor in his country, was all so rewarding and satisfying for the gay men of all ages at the show... indeed, it was of great joy to all who were lucky enough to be there, for all were and are supporters of equality, of great storytelling, and of important theater. While I cannot speak for them, I imagine that the pride felt by female, trans, black, non-binary, diminutive, lesbian, indigenous, indeed all people, upon seeing themselves represented in art culture feels the same as that we gay males felt at 54 Below on Monday night. I know that, as an Asian, I felt the same sense of pride at Allegiance and Here Lies Love as I felt at YANK! It is a simple human need, and right, to see yourself represented in the culture of your day, and YANK! continues to do that for people; and when three stellar actors who played Stu, the main character in YANK!, sing his epic ballad together and, afterward, fall into each others' arms, the gravity of that moment in time is one never to be forgotten.
Particularly special on Monday night was the return of Bobby Steggert to the stage. All who love him and miss him waited, breathlessly, for his first entrance and when it happened it was like coming home. How we have all missed him, even though we are all happy for him and wish him well in his life. So special was it, to have him back for those ninety minutes.
So, here, fans of YANK! and of great theater, are this journalist's photos of what will go down in history as one of the important nights of cabaret theater in the year 2020.
Read Bobby Patrick's review here
Featured in the YANK! Anniversary Concert (per the 54 Below Website):
Bobby Steggert, Ivan Hernandez, Nancy Anderson, Tally Sessions, Andrew Durand, Scott Hunter, Andy Coxon, Sarah-Louise Young, Naomi Price, Hugo Bonemer, Nellie McKay, Joseph Zellnik, David Zellnik, Andrew Gerle, Allison Seidner, Todd Groves, Larry Lelli
All photos by Stephen Mosher