Beautiful Thing | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Beautiful Thing 

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This weekend is the last chance to catch Famous Door Theatre Company's production of English playwright Jonathan Harvey's romantic comedy-drama about two working-class teenage boys--schoolmates and next-door neighbors--who fall in love. This American premiere, which opened last May for a two-month run and ended up being extended into the winter, is moving to New York's Cherry Lane Theatre; the off-Broadway transfer, which opens on Valentine's Day, will be presented by commercial producer Roy Gabay, whose credits include Three Tall Women and How I Learned to Drive. Defying conventional expectations of "gay theater," Beautiful Thing is a charming, compassionate portrait of adolescent love and its impact on the boyfriends' network of family and friends in a crowded South London public-housing estate. Eschewing political preachments, this upbeat yet probing work explores universal issues such as peer pressure, self-esteem problems, fear of commitment, and parent-child conflicts, focusing in particular on the affectionate yet combative relationship between the younger of the two boys and his mother. As a result it's been a genuine crossover hit that's played to full houses for months. Director Gary Griffin's well-played staging stars Matt Stinton (a recent Illinois State University graduate making an impressive professional debut) and Dan Gold (who replaced original cast member Michael Moran) as the lovers and Famous Door ensemble member Kirsten Sahs as Stinton's raucous, resilient mum. Sunday night's closing performance is a fund-raiser for the cast's relocation expenses; the special $100 admission includes a postshow reception and five raffle tickets for a round-trip theater package for February's New York opening. Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252. Through December 20: Friday-Saturday, 7:45 PM; Sunday, 3 and 7 PM. $20-$24; $100 for the 7 PM show Sunday. --Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Brad Miller.

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