by Jim Ridley
The theme of Del Shores' Southern Baptist Sissies may be a downer, but the Kirk-Burgess production at Darkhorse Theater on Charlotte, playing through July 13, offers some engaging theater, with a scenario that eventually pivots toward hope.
The show's opening weekend gained big houses for a confident script that flashes forward and backward, tracing the youthful experiences of four Southern men coming to grips with their homosexuality in a hostile — or maybe worse, ignorant — social environment.
The scenes toggle back and forth from the Calvary Baptist Church in Dallas, where the boys first meet and recognize their gay sensibilities, to a couple of gay nightclubs where one of the young men (Josh Stutts) plies his trade as an impersonator of high-profile lady country singers. ...
As a couple of loquacious, world-weary barflies, Cinda McCain and Chuck Long represent the show's darkly comical side, McCain serving up tart one-liners and Long opining on the bitter realities of aging. Their scenes provide a respite from the main story's edginess, though McCain's crusty, hard-drawling figure also captures some heartfelt moments.
Fine support is provided by Danny Proctor as the preacher from the men's youth, and Rusti Rae, who enacts various mother roles. Carl Goad is the onstage pianist, efficiently cranking out the hymns at church and the show tunes at the gay bar.
The language is not especially salty though it is certainly adult in nature, and the show features brief nudity and implied oral sex.
Tickets are $12 (cash or check) at the door, and reservations can be made by calling 942-6211.