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Review: AUNT JACK at New Conservatory Theatre Center

Review: AUNT JACK at New Conservatory Theatre Center

Aunt Jack runs through October 16th, 2022. 

The huge divides between intergenerational communities are addressed both poignantly and comically in Nora Brigid Monahan's Aunt Jack, NCTC's opening production of the 22-23 season. With a broad pen, Monahan includes themes of gender identity, gender politics, grief, and family ties. It's plenty to chew and perhaps less could have been more.

Review: AUNT JACK at New Conservatory Theatre Center
Aunt Jack (Joey Alvarado), Norman (Nick Tengrove), and Phyllis (Jennifer McGeorge)

The Jack of Aunt Jack (Joey Alvarado) is a drag cabaret performer with some troublesome attributes; narcissistic, meddling, and stubborn. George (Jim Rupp), his husband, is an aging gay activist struggling with the gulf he sees between his generation of AIDS warriors and victims and the younger uninformed community. He's ill and dies suddenly early in the first act. His son Norman (Nick Tengrove) returns home full of guilt over abandoning his longtime lover Ian (Ryan Marchand) and causing a family rift.

Review: AUNT JACK at New Conservatory Theatre Center
Aunt Jack (Joey Alvarado) and George (Jim Rupp)

Surrogate mother and lesbian Phyllis (Jennifer McGeorge) and a surprise addition to the mix, Andy (Emily Steelhammer), add to the confusion. In a mix of family dramas of The Birdcage and broad humor of say Three's Company, the play shifts between the poignant and the slapstick, with George's ghost offering words of solace and direction, and sight gags involving knocks on the front door.

Review: AUNT JACK at New Conservatory Theatre Center
Jennifer McGeorge, Joey Alvarado, Nick Tengrove, Ryan Marchand and Emily Steelhammer.

The main point here is the changing attitudes on sex. While George and many gays of his generation don't quite understand the fight for marriage equality and pansexuality, neither can the youths understand the trauma of the AIDS pandemic and the Reagan years. Monahan tries to bridge these for our small gaps using humor to soften the edges. Aunt Jack exposes the frailty of shifting norms and the need for dialogue, acceptance and even forgiveness for our small-mindedness.

Photo credit: Lois Tema



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From This Author - Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a writer for Cabaret Scenes magazine, contributor to ForAllEvents and now BroadwayWorld. He started writing rock reviews for his college newspaper in the 1970’s, produced a va... (read more about this author)


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