You must see this. Not just because it’s an excellent gay-themed production. Not just because it’s a chance to see Michael Urie of Ugly Betty fame in an intimate theatre setting, showing some very strong acting chops. No, you must see this because it brings to life a too-little known part of the history of gay liberation, in a surprisingly moving and engaging way.
“The Temperamentals“ is, more than anything else, the story of two men in love in the early 1950s: sometime actor and constant activist Harry Hay (Thomas Jay Ryan) and the fashion designer Rudi Gernreich (Urie). Above and beyond their mutual sexual attraction and romantic feelings, they both passionately commit to building the first gay rights organization in American history, the Mattachine Society.
Urie is winsome and whip-smart as Gernreich, but the performance that most elevates this production is Ryan as Hay. Hay is one of my very few personal heroes, and Ryan vibrantly portrays everything that I found admirable about him: his lightly borne erudition, his love of revolution, his spiritual sense of the place of gays in the world, his puckish humor and his habit of tearing up when politics and music mix (happens all the time to me too).
I repeat – you must see this. This lovely and rewarding show needs to be seen by a broad audience.