Todd Flaherty as Prior Walter in "Angels in America" Source: Provincetown Theater

Ptown Theater's David Drake on Going Big This Summer with 'Angels' and 'Rocky Horror'

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 9 MIN.

David Drake

Indeed, The Provincetown Theater never goes dark, staying open and busy year-round despite P-Town's many seasonal residents. Plenty of patrons live there full time; Drake, who also serves as director on may of the theaters' shows, tells EDGE that he's thrilled to serve them up entertainment no matter what the season may be.

David Drake talked to EDGE about this summer's marquee productions, why this had to be the year for a production of "Angels in America," and his slyly "subversive" plans for a "Rocky Horror Show" you won't soon forget.

Devon Kendall-Jacobs and Danica Jensen
Source: Provincetown Theater

EDGE: You're doing anniversary productions of two beloved queer classics.

David Drake: We're doing a 50th anniversary celebration for two months of "The Rocky Horror Show," and yeah, right now we're doing "Angels in America." It just opened. We're doing Part One. We'll do Part Two next year. And it's going great! The response has been overwhelming. People are really embracing it.

EDGE: Why did you choose these shows in particular?

David Drake: In the spring, when we open the season, I like to do a big show. It's an election year, and this is about as political as I can get for now. I'm not that I believe in preaching to the converted, but you do want to sing to the choir and say, "This is your history. This is your story. This is an American story." Plus, Tony Kushner lives in town.


David Drake: It's not been produced in a full production out here on the Cape for over 25 years, so I thought, "This is the time to reinvestigate 'Angels in America.'" In doing so, I discovered, as you do when you read great works, how they speak to different times.

I did see the original Broadway production, and that's really the only production I've ever seen. That was 30 years ago. I thought, "Where are we now with this?" I realized that the seeds of Donald Trump are buried inside the character Roy Cohn, who is the philosophical father of Donald Trump, and they're all in this play. I mean, Tony is prophetic. The dangers facing democracy and equality and harmony, all the things that we value, are buried in Roy Cohn. That character talks about how important loyalty is; he talks about how chaos is great; he talks about dissolving the Justice Department and infiltrating it. All of those things are here in the play. It's sort of shocking to know that Tony wrote this over 30 years ago.

Plus, the relationships are so beautifully drawn, all of them: from Prior and Louis to Roy, and also Harper and Joe. Even the small characters are so well thought out. It's a great piece to work on, and for the audience to chew on.

"Rocky Horror" has been on my shortlist for a long time. I'm very interested in the subversion of sexuality in it, and that sexual subversion is really about Brad and Janet coming to town and getting transformed and expanded in terms of sexuality, and their whole vocabulary of what sensual pleasure is. I think Provincetown is very much like that: People come here looking for a kind of subversive idea of "other," and "Show me something I don't get in mainstream culture."

I thought, "We need a party. Let's do a party this summer, and let's have a party with 'Rocky Horror' because a lot of straight people love that show and feel connected to that alternative rock and roll world." And the score is sensational! I'm excited about this summer, to do, like... I hate to call it a sex party, but a sex party that sings. A glitter rock, David Bowie kind of sex party.


Joe MacDougall as Roy Cohn
Source: Provincetown Theater

EDGE: Provincetown has a large seasonal population. How does that figure into planning for the season, as well as running the theater in general?

David Drake: [The Provincetown Theater's audience] tend to be really astute theater goers. I have to cater to a sharp crowd, and a very queer-leaning crowd. A lot of my audience comes from up the Cape, as well. I'd say about a third of my audience comes from, like, Wellfleet, Truro, Eastham, Chatham, even Harwich and Brewster. I would say 40% of our subscribers come from there, and we have hundreds of subscribers now. We've built it up over the last five years, tremendously. I'm very excited about that; continuity is very important to me, and also serving this community.

[The Provincetown Theater] is a year-round institution. In the wintertime, January through March, we have events and readings of new plays, things like that. And then from, like, April through December we have productions. We're the only nonprofit, legit theatre company on the Outer Cape that produces year-round programming, and I'm thrilled about that. Our community is really supportive, and they love coming here.

I think [The Provincetown Theater] is a compliment to the rest of the town. There's a lot of alternative and nightclub and concert entertainment in town, and that's true all year. The people who live here year-round amuse themselves by putting on all these shows at the Crown and Anchor, and the Gifford House, and the The Pilgrim House, and Drag Bingo and Miss Conception Goes to the Movies, and things like that. We have a lot of fun entertainment year-round, and then it turns into the Vegas strip in the summer, which I always think about in terms of my program and want to complement in some way.

Karl Gregory and Todd Flaherty
Source: Provincetown Theater

EDGE: What's your secret for creating a huge experience in a place that's not necessarily a huge space?

David Drake: We seat, like, 100 – 110 at the most. Right now we're doing this play tennis court-style; the audience is on two sides of [the performance space]. It's a big black box, so we can change the configuration for each show if we want to. This one's [configured] like a big strip. It's painted red down the middle, it's like blood, and it's just very simple. I wanted to kind of simple Greek style for it, because I thought [about] how to present that kind of classical piece, but also get intimate with it. One of the great gifts of this space is that you can be very intimate with these people; they're only six feet away from you, or 10 or 12 feet at the most. Audiences love being that close. When we did "Casa Valentina" last year, there were times when we were two feet away from the audience, and they loved that. They felt like they were in the house with these [characters], and that was a huge hit for us. We had to bring it back, and then we sold out the entire second run. Harvey Fierstein was thrilled with what we were doing with that.

"Angels" is very much the same way. You're in the house with Joe and Harper; you're in the office with Roy Cohn; you're in these spaces with them. I love that immersive feeling. I think that party atmosphere for "Rocky Horror" is going to be the same kind of thing – I'm gonna have people coming in from all angles and dancing in the room with the audience. The thing about "Rocky" is that it has a sloppiness, but when you organize that that kind of party atmosphere, you can't just let it be sloppy. You have to organize the sloppiness.

With "Angels," it's really actor-driven. It's so beautifully written. The lines themselves are like poetry. The actions inside the characters are so strong and so direct, and yet there's subtext that you want to grab down in there and play some of that, so it's really great for actors to play. It's funny as hell, and it's sad, and it's dramatic, and it's shocking, and all the good things that theater should be.

"Angels in America" plays through May 26. "The Rocky Horror Show" plays July 15 – Sept. 5. For tickets and more information follow this link.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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