I've caught-up with the cast of
Bathhouse: The Musical at the Clifton Diner on Cleveland's
west side – which wasn't difficult as they happily drove me there –
where the four men are eating breakfasts of eggs and bacon. And Tim
Evanicki, who wrote the play, is there too, except he's eating a
bagel along with his eggs.
Tim, a sturdy man still defined by his
boyish looks, is telling me how to cast a musical which revolves
around a gay bathhouse – with straight actors. “Straight men
will always play-up the stereotypes better than any gay man could,”
he says. “Gay guys off stage might let a purse fall out of their
mouths, but put them on stage and they quickly butch it up.”
But this cast, the cast touring with
him, is all gay. And Ralph, who plays Teddy, protests that he's
butch – even off stage. “Girl, you fell out of a gay tree,”
Kevin says. “And you hit every gay branch on your way down,” Guy
adds, and, like a track relay runner passing a baton, Tim finishes
with, “And you fell on a gay man.” Then, in near unison, all
five howl, “And you did him!” Snap!
to get a word in edgewise with this cast,” Tim says. “But at
least it's not boring.”
which the Orlando Sentinel called “freaking hilarious,”
has been around for about two years now, in several variations. It
started out as a challenge of sorts, when Tim and co-writer Esther
Daack realized that concept topped content at a fringe play festival.
Driving home after one such festival, they passed a bathhouse and
joked that any play with the title Bathhouse: The Musical
would be accepted into the festival. And it was. Problem was, it
had yet to be written.
moment that should have been withdrawn, quickly veered Tim off his
chosen career path. The classically trained (Juilliard and Eastman,
no less) musical performer had already graced Carnegie Hall and many
of the other sacred stages in America, so writing a raunchy, gay
musical about a boy's first time at a bathhouse was not on his to-do
Bathhouse was a 30 minute chorus of bathhouse etiquette and
initiation rites – it now tops two hours with intermission.
amazing. Totally unexpected,” Tim says, describing a Canadian tour
being organized and a British rewrite – one more in-tune with
British whimsy – in the works.
Now life is
imitating art at the Flex bathhouse in Cleveland, where Bathhouse
will be playing for two weeks. “They bought the play,” Tim says.
“So we're recreating a bathhouse in a bathhouse.” Except that
Bathhouse: The Musical offers a different kind of diversion.
On the net: