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Act One

Small budget, big heart in new Pegasus show

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I BELIEVE IN CUTE Noel Yates is kooky for crafts in 'The New Century.' - ANNA NARBUTOVSKIH
  • Anna Narbutovskih
  • I BELIEVE IN CUTE Noel Yates is kooky for crafts in 'The New Century.'

For an area with as large a gay population as Sonoma County, it's surprising how little gay-themed theater is produced. Oh sure, companies will produce more mainstream musicals like Cabaret or La Cage aux Folles every few years, or the annual Rocky Horror Show, but little else seems to cross local stages.

The nomadic Pegasus Theater Company, in existence in one form or another for about 20 years, is the exception. Its Russian River roots have been planted firmly in the gay community since its inception, and the company regularly programs gay content. This year, Pegasus has brought a collection of comedic one-acts by Paul Rudnick (I Hate Hamlet, In & Out) titled The New Century to the Mt. Jackson Masonic Lodge in Guerneville.

"Pride and Joy" opens the show with a meeting of the Massapequa, Long Island, chapter of the PLGBTQCCC&O: the Parents of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered, Questioning, Curious, Creatively Concerned and Others. Ms. Helene Nadler (Thea Rhiannon) introduces herself to the membership as the "most loving mother of all time." Why? She has three children: a lesbian daughter, a transgendered son who dates lesbians and a gay son into BDSM and scatology. Beat that, parents.

We then meet "Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach." Charles (Nick Charles) has been exiled from New York by the gay community for being "too gay," which happens to be the title of the cable access show he now hosts along with his "ward," Shane (director John Rowan), where he answers viewer mail and revels in being who he is.

With "Crafty" we meet Barbara Ellen Diggs (Noel Yates), a crafts-crazy Midwesterner who makes toilet paper koozies and tuxedo toaster covers. The passing of her son from AIDS has led her to question her faith. "I don't know if I believe in God anymore," she says, "but I do believe in cute."

All the characters come together in a really contrived closing scene set at a New York Hospital maternity ward that seems tacked on to create a full-length show.

The production suffers from the challenges inherent in running a small theater company—no budget, minimal sets and lighting, a limited talent pool leading to casting issues, etc.—but it has heart, which counts for a lot, and you have to love a show that credits costumes to an entity called Nutsack Creations.

Rating (out of 5): ★★½

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