Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man at the Ordway

Had a rough couple of weeks? Despondent about the state of the world? I can't imagine any better antidote than seeing Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man at the Ordway (November 18-19).

This show makes you remember that there are still good things in the world, like theater that makes you throw your head back and laugh with your whole body.
Grant MacDermott and Rachel Moulton
(from the NYC production; image from Broadway
Sex Tips started off-Broadway in 2014 as a play adapted by Matt Murphy from the book by Dan Anderson and Maggie Berman. It's been running ever since at the 777 Theater on 8th Avenue. The tour stops in St. Paul for only two days, but I wish it was staying longer.

We open at St. Paul Community College, where the audience is attending a 'meet the authors' forum. Due to the untimely demise of the usual moderator, shy, awkward (and single) Robyn is facilitating the event. Oh, and the book they're discussing? Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man by Dan Anderson. Technical help during the show is provided by Stefan, one of Robyn's employees who is helping with lights and sound (and much more).

Brooks Christopher (headshot by Matthew Murray
Grant MacDermott plays Dan (the titular gay man) and he has the audience is in the palm of his hand almost immediately. He is engaging and hilarious and makes this interactive show seem unbelievably easy and charming. Jacklyn Collier is charmingly awkward and nervous as Robyn (the titular straight woman) and Brooks Christopher is hunky Stefan, who does a beautiful job of being wildly objectified, but in an affectionate way.

The energy level of this show is intense. The performers go all-out to bring the audience into the performance, and it was fun to see their reactions to some of the audience members they brought up on stage. Christopher did a particularly good job of staying stoic in the face of ridiculousness and good-naturedly accepting so much prurient attention.

Not your average merch table, no?
And yes, if the title didn't tip you off, this is a show that acknowledges the existence of sexual activities (as the NPR disclaimer goes). Much of the humor comes from the frank and funny airing of topics not usually heard about on the Ordway stage.

The charming MacDermott makes the Ordway Concert Hall feel intimate, and his winks and reactions to his own and others' naughtiness are priceless. Collier takes the audience on her journey from discomfort to enjoyment, and Christopher is quite funny as well as being very easy on the eyes.

[Kooky sidebar: In researching the show and looking for photos with the touring cast, we found this amazing story of the time Jacklyn Collier went on a date with Martin Shrekli: My Tinder date with "Pharma bro" Martin Shkreli]

Above all, Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man is a show that helps me remember that: