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Casa Valentina Explores The Men Beneath The Pearls And Lipstick

CASAlgBy Bill Hirschman, FloridaTheaterOnStage.com, Special to EyesOnNews.com, June 12, 2015 – To a “straight” audience unfamiliar with transvestism, the most shocking moments in Casa Valentina about men gathering at a Catskills resort to dress in women’s clothes in 1962, the most telling moments occur when men wearing pearls and hosiery utter virulently homophobic sentiments.

That’s because one of several takeaways from Harvey Fierstein’s thought-provoking play is that sexuality is not homogenously black or white. What Fierstein depicts is not even a spectrum of grays between the black and white, but an infinitely varied stew of preferences, prejudices and other ingredients in varied measures.

While the guests – most friends for years — initially bask in a mutually supportive environment where their closeted inclinations can be indulged freely, those aforementioned differences under pressure will drive them apart and destroy the Eden they have built.

These subtleties as well as the generous humor and rending tragedy are all beautifully excavated in GableStage’s production thanks to a committed cast led by director Joseph Adler. No actor winks that they are just portraying a character or that they are living out their own dream on stage. The cast under Adler’s hand are credible every moment in their affectionate camaraderie. The characters are not horsing around in frocks and lipstick; their inner selves have been released. That goes a long way toward a mainstream audience accepting what are outwardly and inescapably males wearing wigs and high heels.

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