Love is love is love!
Park Slope’s Gallery Players has put a same-sex twist on Stephen Sondheim’s lovelorn musical “Marry Me A Little,” which opened January 26. The group presents the show with three alternating casts in the central role – portraying a different-sex couple, a gay male couple, and a lesbian couple – but otherwise unchanged from one version to another. The show’s director said she jumped at the chance to disrupt standard theater tropes in a very specific fashion, while showing that of course love is universal.
“As much as I love theater, a lot of it has relied on the heteronormative boy meets girl and they fall in love and live happily ever after,” said Barrie Gelles. “Rarely do you come across a story that could be any one single couple — it doesn’t have to be boy and girl. I couldn’t waste the opportunity to turn that norm around and show how people can find love in all genders.”
“Marry Me a Little” follows two New Yorkers — named only Him and Her — who live in adjacent apartments, each pouring out their hearts through song and unaware that their soulmate is just a few steps away. Those parts will be played by two men, two women, and a man and woman on different nights of the run, but the company has not changed any of the lyrics, keeping all of the pronouns the same.
The male actor playing Her said that he had no problems stepping into a traditionally female role — and as an openly gay man, he felt right at home with Her songs.
“I didn’t really change anything, and we haven’t changed anything as far as pronouns go because it doesn’t really need to be changed,” said Adrian Rifat. “In [fairy tales] we hear all those stories of the prince and the princess, and even as a gay little boy hearing that I would aspire to find a prince, but I knew I had to be prince myself. So it wasn’t really difficult to assimilate or justify the pronouns.”
Each set of actors brings their own nuances to the roles, said Gelles, and she hopes that audiences will come back in order to appreciate the different takes.
“The actors of are all different people telling the same story — people will see every single actor portray their characters in different ways,” said Gelles. “Each duo kind of adds their own feel to it, bringing their own personality and way of seeing things.”
Return visitors will also appreciate the difference in the tunes, simply because male and female voices sound different, Gelles said.
“The differences are in the pairing, not the music — we have not changed a note or a lyric, but hearing male voices or hearing females sing — each is very unique,” she said. “It’s very noticeable, but very worthwhile to see more than once because each song has a different feel to it. It’s glorious in any presentation and very exciting to hear the combination of the voices.”
MARRY ME A LITTLE | Gallery Players, 199 14th St., btwn. Fourth & Fifth Aves., Park Slope | Through Feb. 13: Thu-Sat. at 8 p.m.; male cast: Feb. 2, 11 & 16; female cast: Feb. 3, 9 & 18; different-sex cast: Feb. 4, 10 & 17 | $25; $20 for seniors at galleryplayers.com or 914-414-5236