FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (September 8, 2023) – Love! Valour! Compassion! – Terrence McNally‘s most honored and celebrated play about eight gay friends who spend the holidays over one summer at one’s beautiful hundred-year-old house in upstate New York, kicks off Island City Stage’s 12th thrilling season. The show runs from October 12 – November 5.
“We are thrilled to open our 12th season with Love! Valour! Compassion!, an insightful, witty and sometimes darkly humored look at love, life and the nature of friendship,” said Andy Rogow, artistic director of Island City Stage. “Because of its deeply personal nature, sharp dialogue, and heartfelt moments, this critically acclaimed play written in the height of the HIV/AIDS era has stood the test of time. We are delighted to showcase the theatrical skill of our production team and the emotional range of our talented national cast who will bring this award-winning Broadway hit to life.”
At a lakeside summer vacation house in Dutchess County, two hours north of New York City, eight gay friends spend the three major holiday weekends of one summer together for Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. The house belongs to Gregory, a successful Broadway choreographer now approaching middle age, who fears he is losing his creativity; and his twenty-something lover, Bobby, a legal assistant who is blind. Each of the guests at their house is connected to Gregory’s work in one way or another – Arthur and longtime partner Perry are business consultants; John Jeckyll, a sour Englishman, is a dance accompanist; die-hard musical theater fanatic Buzz Hauser is a costume designer and the most stereotypically gay man in the group. Only John’s summer lover, Ramon, and John’s twin brother James are outside the circle of friends. But Ramon is outgoing and eventually makes a place for himself in the group, and James is such a gentle soul that he is quickly welcomed.
Florida-born Terrence McNally is considered one of the most prolific and highly lauded playwrights, librettists and screenwriters in the last 50 years. His decades of works explored human relationships – frequently those of gay men. In addition to Love! Valour! Compassion!, McNally’s works include Bad Habits, The Ritz, Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, Masterclass, and Mothers and Sons, among many others. McNally’s librettos for Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime won him Tony Awards in 1993 and 1998, respectively. Additional credits as a librettist included The Full Monty, Catch Me if You Can, and The Visit. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1996, and he also received the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. In 2018, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the highest recognition of artistic merit in the United States. In 2019, he won a Lifetime Achievement Tony award. His other accolades included an Emmy Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, four Drama Desk Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, two Obie Awards, and three Hull-Warriner Awards.
The Love! Valour! Compassion!, ensemble cast features theatre veterans Chad Darnell, Robert Koutras, Bruce Linser, Saul Mendoza, Christoper Michaels, Matthew Salas, and Michael Scott Ross.
Chad Darnell (Arthur) is from Atlanta where he recently appeared as Dan in Closer, Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, David O. Selznick in Moonlight and Magnolias and in John Cameron Mitchell’s new play, Forced. His feature film (as writer and director) The Undertaker’s Wife is set to be released in 2024. His novel “Buying the Farm” is available on Amazon, and currently in development as a series.
Robert Koutras (Gregory Mitchell) is thrilled to be back with Island City Stage after playing Josh in Rotterdam last season. His credits include being part of the original cast of Sessions Off-Broadway and in tours of The Full Monty and Grease. His Florida credits include Dr. Madden in Next To Normal (Zoetic Stage), Lonny in Rock of Ages, King Arthur in Camelot and Jimmy Ray Dobbs in Bright Star (TheatreZone). He also portrayed Basilius in Head Over Heels (Slow Burn), Bill in Mamma Mia! (The Wick Theatre), and Leo Frank in Parade (Broward Stage Door). Other regional performances include As You Like It, Fun Home, Matilda, and Shrek. Film and television credits include Nickelodeon’s Team Umizoomi, and I Remember, an independent short film. His original musical, The End, is currently in development.
Bruce Linser (John/James) is no stranger to playing multiple roles having appeared at Island City Stage as Jane/Lord Edgar/Irma Vep in The Mystery of Irma Vep last season and The Pride in 2014. Locally, he’s also performed at Caldwell Theatre Company, FAU Festival Rep, Florida Stage, GableStage, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, New Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, Take Heed Theatre Company, and The Wick Theatre. Bruce has directed locally for Palm Beach Dramaworks, MNM Theatre Company, and FAU Festival Rep.
Saul Mendoza (Ramon) born in Caracas, Venezuela has more than 17 years of training and experience in the artistic world. In his country, he stood out in plays such as, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Look Back in Anger, Double Inconstancy, and The Diary of a Witch in Love. He also had roles in The Sound of Music, PIAF,Voz y Delirio, and the popular radio show No tan serio. Additionally, he contributed to numerous seasons at Micro-teatro Venezuela, both as an actor and a producer. Since his arrival Miami in 2017, he has appeared in Un Date Mortal, Smiley la Obra, El Día que Cambió la Vida del Sr. Odio, Así de Simple, The Courage, and Somos Nosotros. In 2019, Mendoza was an exclusive talent of the Telemundo television network for the series Betty en New York and the Format of Unitarians Decisiones. Mendoza is also part of the Miami New Drama staff wardrobe team and has been part of many productions, including A Wonderful World, Papá Cuatro, Elián, and Anna in the Tropics.
Christopher Michaels (Buzz) is the founder/producing artistic director of IndieWorks Theatre Company in NYC and executive producer/creative director of the 12-time award-winning series Bite-Sized Broadway. He is also a freelance producer and director of musical theatre and new media, nationally. Most recently, Christopher directed Island City Stage’s hit musical, Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story. Select performing credits include NYC: The Christians, Porterin The Wrong Box, Chief Crookakoff in The Nose, LeFou in Beauty & The Beast, Karpathy/Quartet in My Fair Lady, Nathan Leopold in Thrill Me, Emory in The Boys In The Band and Rocky in Damn Yankees. He also contributed voiceovers for NPR/Planet Money’s Micro-Face and Bite-Sized Broadway.
Michael Scott Ross(Perry) was last seen in Island City Stage’s Pageant and his cabaret My Broadway: The Roles I Could Play. Ross has performed across Florida at Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Zoetic Stage, The Adrienne Arsht Center, Slow Burn, The Wick Theatre, MNM, Winter Park Playhouse, and Gulf Coast Symphony. In New York, he was a vocalist in Raffi on Broadway, Mr. Sowerberry in Twist, and Man 2 in Edges. He counts Cornelius in Hello, Dolly! Starring Sally Struthers, Sister Amnesia in Nunsense A-Men, and Rod in Avenue Q (Rod) among his favorite roles. Ross is also an install director for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
Matthew Salas(Bobby) is an actor and director from Fort Lauderdale. He spent two years studying at the Boston University School of Theatre before returning home for his film and theater career. Previously, he appeared on screen as KevDog in Discord: the Movie. On stage, his most recent credits include Max in Bent, Charley Brewster in Fright Night, Evan in Armature (Island City Stage), and Director in Shakespeare Is a White Supremacist.
Love! Valour! Compassion! is directed by Michael Leeds and co-produced by Robert Korn and Alvaro Menendez. Set sponsor is Glenn Goldberg and Lighting Sponsor is Scott Bennett.
Island City Stage’s 12th Season will also feature Which Way to the Stage by Ana Nogueira (Jan. 18 – Feb. 11); Pulp by Patricia Kane; Music by Amy Warren & Andre Pluess with lyrics by Patricia Kane (Apr. 11 – May 5); Skintight by Joshua Harmon (May 30 – Jun. 23) and Die! Mommie Die!by Charles Busch (Aug. 29 – Sept. 22).
Tickets for Love! Valour! Compassion! start at $40. A Mimosa Sunday performance sponsored by Tedd Davis and Brad Sterl will be held on October 22 with tickets at $55. The show runs three hours with two intermissions.
Founded in 2012, Island City Stage is a professional theater committed to sharing stories of universal interest, engaging diverse audiences with entertaining, challenging, and inspiring productions and programs, often exploring the LGBTQ+ culture. These shows are brought to life on stage through the talents of professional artists whose credits include Broadway, Off Broadway, national tours, major regional theaters, film and television. Island City Stage offers an intimate setting with six rows of stadium seating to foster a feeling of inclusion and participation in each theatrical event. Island City Stage is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. It is located at 2304 N. Dixie Hwy in Wilton Manors. For tickets and more information, please call (954) 928-9800 or visit islandcitystage.org.