By Michael Doshier; Music by Johnny Darlin, Francis Steakknife, & Gandor Chorale; Choreographed by Pia Vinson
Produced by Johnny Darlin and the Queer South
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Musical
Runs through 8.26.16
VENUE #5: drom, 85 Avenue A
by Alexander Douglas on 8.18.16
Johnny Darlin in Johnny Darlin: In the Closet. Photo by Kaela Garvin.
BOTTOM LINE: Multimedia artists explore growing up in many kinds of closets with passion and open hearts to tell stories of youth, queerness, love, and all the accompanying bumps along the way.
Johnny Darlin: In the Closet is a pop spectacle in a digital age. The show claims an otherwise singular narrative, the story of coming out of the closet, and captures its universality without sacrificing the personality specific to the artist behind the piano. Michael Doshier, playing the titular character, is backed by dancers Quenton Stuckey and Alberte Nilausen, who provide a viscerally physical response to his music and spoken word, and gorgeous projection and video work that make his journey as intimate as it is accessible.
Through a combination of visual art, movement, music, and spoken word, the artists explore what it means to grow up queer in America. Stuckey and Nilausen embody Pia Vinson’s expressive choreography fully and work with physical commitment that exudes energy and passion. It is exceedingly clear that this story is something every person on stage desperately wants to share, a passion that kept me engaged for every moment of the performance. Darlin’s pacing is seamless, his music is thoroughly sharp and fantastical, and his story is excellently balanced in all its forms.
The artists grapple with many mediums throughout this show and execute them all tremendously. Each individual element operates beautifully as its own piece, but when together, they inform and challenge the surface interpretation of the individual. Before Johnny Darlin, I have not seen another performer so successfully claim queerness as subversive power. Here, queerness is strength and it is beautiful. It’s not a choice to make, but now it is a choice I would make. This story belongs to so many more than just Darlin—something made clear by the collaborative creative team—and it is my sincere hope that it will be shared with as much of the Fringe audience as possible.
(Johnny Darlin: In the Closet plays at VENUE #5: drom, 85 Avenue A, through August 26, 2016. The running time is 1 hour 15 minutes. Performances are Sun 8/14 at 12:30; Tue 8/16 at 7; Wed 8/17 at 5:30; Wed 8/24 at 6; and Fri 8/26 at 9. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit johnnydarlin.com/in-the-closet.)
Johnny Darlin: In the Closet is written by Michael Doshier (Johnny Darlin). Music by Johnny Darlin, Francis Steakknife, Gandor Chorale, Wolves, Tommy Cormier, Pincha Jones, and Mahin Salman. Choreography by Pia Vinson. Video by Johnny Darlin, Ben McCarthy, Abby Doshier, Bill Doshier, Nita Doshier, Quenton Stuckey, Julian Singleton, Noble Gough, Phillip Hughes, Chloe Rothbloom, Alaina Kizer, JPEGSTRIPES, and videvo. Video Projection and Glitch Art by JPEGSTRIPES. Lighting Design by Joanna Emmott. ASL Consulting by Julian Singleton. Cover art by Tiahnan Trent.
The cast is Michael Doshier, Quenton Stuckey, Alberte Nilausen, Steven Zemanian, Mahin Salman, Jordan Bortner, Phillip Hughes, Erin Whitney, Hari Ziyad, and LGBTQ people from across the country.