PLAY PREVIEW: “Daniel’s Husband” Pushes Envelope on Love

Photos by Ed Krieger.

There is the rule of law, and there are the laws of the heart. The Fountain Theatre’s “Daniel’s Husband” asks the question, “which do we follow and when?”

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Opening night for the Southern California premiere of this off-Broadway hit play by Michael McKeever is this weekend.

A bold commentary on love, commitment and family in our perilous new world, “Daniel’s Husband” reunites director Simon Levy. The play follows Daniel Bixby and Mitchell Howard — a seemingly perfect couple. What isn’t so perfect is that Daniel desperately longs to be married, but Mitchell doesn’t believe in it. When an unexpected turn of events puts their perfect life in jeopardy, they are thrust into a future where love may not be enough. 

The Pride L.A. spoke with star actors Tim Cunnings (Mitchell) and Bill Brochtrup (Daniel). Check it out below: 

TIM CUMMINGS (Mitchell)

Tell me a bit about the play’s plot. 

Daniel is a successful architect and his partner of seven years, Mitchell, is a successful novelist with a passionate following. One night they have a dinner party with friends and the topic turns to gay marriage. Mitchell strongly asserts his opposition to it; Daniel does not feel the same. Stuff happens…life happens…and one of the things the play does is ask the audience to consider the validity or effectiveness of Mitchell’s stance.

Why did you want to get involved with it? 

Bill Brochtrup and I played Ned and Felix in ‘The Normal Heart’ five years ago—same theater, same director, same producer. The production and the role were life-changing, and it bonded all of the men in the cast, with whom we still hang out all the time this many years later. So it was flattering for Simon and Stephen to invite Bill and me to reunite and inhabit the world of another vital LGBTQ play. It just feels like going home.

What do you expect the audience to take away from the play? 

There will be people who understand Mitchell’s stance and agree with him and those who do not and hold a grudge, but in the end, the play is a universal story about love. It’s about two gay men and it touches on LGBTQ issues of equality, assimilation, and identity, yes, but ultimately it’s a cautionary tale for everyone. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, and sometimes when people have their emotional centers poked and prodded, they rise to action, and that’s a good thing.

What do you take away from the play? 

‘Daniel’s Husband’ asks us—among other things— to consider where our strongest convictions live: in the heart, or in the head, and how to reconcile with yourself when there is a clash between those two arenas. I also see the sheer power of love in this play. The heights to which we will rise for love are deeply beautiful human traits. We need to remember that. 

What was one particularly challenging scene that you’re excited to see work itself out on the stage? 

All of them, frankly. Mitchell runs an almost implausible emotional gamut in this play and whilst in rehearsal I am negotiating that array to find wildly compelling ways to convey the truth of these scenes. It’s a dance.

In one sentence, why should people go see it?

 ‘Daniel’s Husband’ is a prismatic and mercurial piece that explores companionship, love, identity, conviction, and fighting for your rights. It’s funny, provocative, ambiguous, and heartbreaking. 

And the cast is hot.

BILL BROCHTRUP (Daniel)

Tell me a bit about the play’s plot. 

Daniel’s Husband is a funny, poignant play about two men in a long term relationship who have massively different opinions about gay marriage — and the consequences of those opinions.

Why did you want to get involved with it? 

Several years ago I played opposite Tim Cummings in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart at the Fountain Theatre directed by Simon Levy.  We had such a profound experience working on that show — and I loved working with Tim and Simon so much, that when this opportunity came up to delve into another beautiful piece of gay themed material, I said Yes immediately.  Daniel’s Husband is a play for our times, another step in the canon of gay theatre.  The roles are terrific — it’s a very real gay couple — and the message is spot on.

What do you expect the audience to take away from the play? 

If we are able to tell the story in a truthful and authentic manner I think the audience will laugh, will be engaged on an intellectual level, and will deeply feel in their hearts and guts for these guys.  I hope they’ll leave the theatre understanding something about the absolute importance of commitment and love.

What do you take away from the play? 

I read a lot of scripts with gay characters and what I love so much about Daniel’s Husband is how true this relationship is.  It’s a couple who have been together for years and the playwright, Michael McKeever, clearly knows what he’s writing about!  The love, the jokes, the squabbles, the intimacy — it’s all there and when we’re together on stage I never doubt for a second that I’m in love with Tim’s “Mitchell.”  And the playwright also captures a very strained mother/son relationship as well.  He understands what makes people tick, so it’s a joy to work on this material.

What was one particular challenging scene that you’re excited to see work itself out on the stage? 

There’s a very emotional fight between “Daniel” and “Mitchell” where a lot of difficult things get said.  There’s also a scene with friends over for a dinner party and there’s lots of drinking, joking, and dessert.  I can’t decide which is more difficult — laying my heart on the line or trying to figure out how to eat pudding and say lines at the same time!  

In one sentence, why should people go see it?

Daniel’s Husband truly is that evening in the theatre where you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll debate, and you’ll leave feeling like you know these characters inside and out.H

“Daniel’s Husband” DETAILS

WHEN: 
Previews: May 1, May 2, May 3
Performances: May 4 – June 23
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: May 1 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: May 2 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: May 3 (preview), May 10, 17, 24, 31; June 7, 14, 21
• Saturdays at 2 p.m.: May 11, 18, 25; June 1, 8, 15, 22 (no 2 pm perf. on May 4) 
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: May 4 (Opening Night), May 11, 18, 25; June 1, 8, 15, 22
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: May 5, 12, 19, 26; June 2, 9, 16, 23
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: May 13, 20, 27; June 3, 10, 17 (dark May 6)

WHERE:
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
(Fountain at Normandie

HOW:
(323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com
• Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheFountainTheatre
• Follow us on Twitter: @fountaintheatre
• Instagram: https://instagram.com/fountaintheatre/

TICKET PRICES:
$25 – $45:
• Premium Seating: $45
• Regular Seating: $40
• Seniors 65 or older: $35 (regular seating only)
• Students: $25 (valid ID required)
• Monday nights: Regular seating ($40) and Pay-What-You-Want (subject to availability)
• Previews: Pay-What-You-Want (subject to availability)

PARKING:
Secure, on-site parking: $5