Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 010616 Contents 46 • 01.06.2016
Michael Leeds is best known as
a director, but with the world
premiere of his comedy, “Who
Killed Joan Crawford?” at Island City Stage
next week, South Florida audiences will also
get to evaluate his talents as a playwright.
“I’m a director first, so I have no ego as
a writer to cut,” he explained in a phone
interview between rehearsals. “I’m used to
working with a playwright, so I’m wearing
my director hat when I’m writing.”
The Tony Award-nominated director
actually started with the title. Leeds was
reading about the iconic actress when the
title came to mind.
“I just had to write a play to back up the
title and started to imagine how that could
play out,” he recalled.
A fan of Agatha Christie murder novels,
Leeds drew inspiration from the mystery
writer’s “And Then There Were None”
and the corresponding movie, “Ten Little
He envisioned a birthday party with a
theme – all the guests would be invited to
come dressed as their favorite Joan Crawford
movie character. The host is a soap opera
star and his friends include his publicist,
writer, investor, therapist and a young
memoirist. The story begins with lots of
laughs until a murder is committed.
“As in all these plays and movies and
books, it’s a rainy night, they’re in a cabin
upstate and the road is blocked after a tree
falls,” Leeds explained with a slight chuckle.
are dressed as a woman, but not trying to be
a woman,” he added. “They’re lumbering
around the stage in heels and make-up.”
Leeds coaxed Island City Stage artistic
director Andy Rogow for the production,
along with another well-known local actor,
Kevin Reilly. Also in the cast are Troy
Stanley, Christian Vandepas, who Leeds
worked with in last season’s production of
“Poz,” and New York actor Barry Marcus.
Already, the play’s title has raised
eyebrows. One patron told Rogow she didn’t
know Joan Crawford had been murdered.
“When they hear it’s a comedy-thriller,
that intrigues them more,” Leeds said.
The play has already received a couple of
readings in Chicago, where it was a winner
of a contest by a local theater for gay-themed
plays, but the current rehearsals are shaping
the production in important ways.
“The personal qualities of the characters
come out more in rehearsals,” he said.
“There’s also an old expression that the last
actor to show up is the audience. You learn
so much from them and their reactions.”
The Broadway veteran said it’s not
uncommon for well-rehearsed productions
to undergo major rewrites after the first
preview performance with an audience.
Leeds also relied on advice from award-
winning South Florida playwright Michael
McKeever and his partner, equally
accomplished director Stuart Meltzer.
“They say writing is actually rewriting
and sometimes you have to kill your babies,”
Leeds said, but if the buzz coming from
rehearsals is any indication, Leeds’ baby is
going to make it this time.
new coMedy showcAses locAl
director's writing skills
J.W. A rnold
Michael Leeds provides
direction to Troy Stanley,
left, and Kevin Reilly
during a rehearsal of his
new play, “Who Killed
Joan Crawford?” at
Island City Stage.
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Island City Stage presents the world premiere of “Who Killed Joan Crawford?” written and directed by
Michael Leeds, Jan. 14 – Feb. 14, at Abyss Stage, 2304 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors. Tickets are
$35 at IslandCityStage.org.
The ladies of Lips are paying tribute to the
Queen of Pop.
In a benefit for Care Resource, Lips,
the longtime drag den, is hosting a Madonna
themed party. The dinner show is scheduled
for 7 p.m ., Jan. 20 at the Lips location in
Oakland Park, 1421 East Oakland Park Blvd.
“We’re fortunate to be able to lend support
to a great organization like Care Resource,”
said Yvonne Lame, Lips founder and co-
owner, in a news release. “There’s no better
reason to celebrate than Madonna coming to
town and each of our divas is ready to put her
own unique twist on The Queen of Pop’s great
music for this worthy cause.”
Madonna is bringing her “Rebel Heart” tour
to Miami for two shows at American Airlines
Arena, Jan. 23-24. Her provocative style
has long attracted a gay following and Lips
performers are ready to reinvent many classic
“Material Girl” numbers.
Lame is promising a night featuring
Madonna anthems “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Like
A Virgin,” “Into The Groove,” and “Like A
Cost for the evening is $31, which includes
dinner, beverages, cover charge, taxes and
gratuity. Reservations are strongly encouraged
as this particular show, Lame insists, will sell
out. Reservations can be made by calling 954-
567-0987 or visit LipsUSA.com
Proceeds from this Madonna themed
Lips party will benefit AIDS Walk Miami
2016 now in its 28th year. Care Resource,
South Florida’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS
service organization, operates facilities in
Miami, Miami Beach, Little Havana and Fort
liPs celebrAtes MAdonnA’s swing through
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