Long Beach LGBT History Comes to Life in THE TWENTIETH CENTURY WAY

Long Beach LGBT History Comes to Life in THE TWENTIETH CENTURY WAYIn 1914, Long Beach leaders hired two bounty hunters to entrap gay men so the city could essentially blackmail and remove them with fines and public humiliation. Most men paid the fine and quietly slipped out of town. One man - a banker - committed suicide and two others sued the city. Playwright Tom Jacobson turned that dark chapter in the city's history into a play entitled The Twentieth Century Way.

The show was well-received in Boston, Pasadena and on Broadway and it opens July 21 in the Playhouse Studio Theatre. In addition to the show, the Studio lobby is filled with photos and documents that were collected and exhibited by the Historical Society of Long Beach (HSLB) as part of its LGBT History Project. The exhibit tells the story of the city's LGBT community - its struggles, successes and its organizations and people.
"It's a wonderful combination," said Sean Gray, Playhouse Artistic Director. "The play is thought-provoking and illustrates the cruelty that comes with prejudice. It's clever and witty at times, infuriating and sad at others, and ultimately passionate.
"The exhibit gives texture and another layer of awareness to the play. The play focuses on an event; the exhibit focuses on what happened later. The entrapment didn't end when the bounty hunters left town. The city's gay community didn't go away, in fact it grew. People made lives here, they opened businesses, they got together to give Long Beach its own Pride Parade and to create systems to protect one another. I love that we can tell that story too."

"This play and the exhibit remind us that Long Beach is a city whose history isn't simple. Some people want to think it was just a cute little resort town but it's more complex. That's one of the beauties of theatre, we get to tell the other stories, the ones that aren't so pretty," said Madison Mooney, the Playhouse's Executive Director. "And I love that we also found another way to partner with the Historical Society, that makes this show even more meaningful to all of us."

The play has two actors. They move between the roles of people who took part in the events and the legal case. As these two actors become absorbed within their play-within-a-play, they explore sexual identity, institutional corruption, self-deception, and the mysteries of the craft of the theatre. It moves fast and insists the actors bring their absolute best to each interaction.

Fortunately, the two actors are up to the task. Noah Wagner has amazed Playhouse audiences for years. From the tiger in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo to the cannibalistic barber in Sweeney Todd, Wagner is mesmerizing. Christian Jordan Skinner is the counterpoint to Wagner. Skinner's talents have also been on display at the Playhouse. He was the cowboy in the show Cowboy vs. Samurai and the main protagonist, Jonathan Harker in Dracula, which played to sold out audiences on the Mainstage.

"The chemistry between Noah and Christian makes the story work," said Gray. "Reed Flores is the director. He understands the prejudices that come with being gay, even today and he knows when to be subtle and when to be loud. I am quite pleased with what he's brought to this show.

"The show is about the gay experience but it's a show for everyone with a social conscience, with an interest in history and everyone who wants to know more about the city they love with all its complexities and conundrums. Come see the show."
This Production contains Adult Content and Nudity.

SPECIAL EVENTS FOR THIS PLAY:

  • Pay what you can Thursday July 19 - community can see this production for whatever they can afford
  • Two for One Preview Friday July 20 - Tickets are $10.00
  • Opening Night Champagne Reception with cast on July 21- Tickets are $27.00

Ticket Pricing:
Friday: Adults are $20.00, Seniors $18.00, and Students $14.00Saturday and Sunday: Adults are $24.00, Seniors $21.00, and Students $14.00.

Tickets are available at www.lbplayhouse.org, or by calling 562-494-1014, option 1.
To request an interview with the director, cast members or reserve your media tickets to this performance, please send an email to: pr@lbplayhouse.org.

Long Beach Playhouse is located at 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, CA, 90804, right across from the Long Beach Recreation golf course. The Playhouse is community-supported theatre with programs and events that cut across age, gender, ethnic, and cultural boundaries.

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday, and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The box office is open Wednesday-Saturday from 3:00-8:00 pm and Sundays from 1:00-2:00 pm on scheduled matinees.

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