Five Finalists in 2014 Great Gay Play Contest Named!

Four New Plays And One Musical With LGBT Themes Or Characters

Are Named Finalists in Pride Films and Plays

Great Gay Play and Musical Contest

Five finalists have now been named in the Great Gay Play And Musical Contest sponsored by Pride Films and Plays.  The works are as varied as the writers, and PFP will present enhanced staged readings of these works in May at Center on Halsted.

The finalists are:

  • The Book Of Andy by Michael J. Mejia
  • Gentle Passage by Paul Elliott
  • Michelangelo and Tommaso by James Rosenfield
  • The View UpStairs by Max Vernon
  • Who Killed Joan Crawford? by Michael Leeds

Synopses of the plays and bios of the playwrights:

[toggle type=”white” title=”The Book of Andy” active=””]

The Book Of Andy by Michael J. Mejia, Delano, CA

After Andy responds I don’t know to a marriage proposal, he visits his exes to find what went wrong with them. When he finds they’re thriving without him, Andy lies and tells them he’s dying.

Michael J. Mejia is a known and produced playwright from Kern County, California. After receiving BA’s in English and Theatre from Cal-State Bakersfield, he received his MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts, Asia, in Singapore. His plays explore Mexican/American, Gay and Christian themes.


[toggle type=”white” title=”Gentle Passage” active=””]

Gentle Passage by Paul Elliott, Los Angeles, CA
Paul Elliott’s horrific Gentle Passage was written to expose the actual childhood his husband, Ed, survived.  While the premise of the play is fiction and names have been changed,  the story is entirely true.

As a published playwright with over 700 productions to date, Paul Elliott’s new comedy, Exit Laughing, the 2013 AACT PlayFest winner premiered at the historic Landers Theater and will be opening in New York this spring. His first novel, The Riverton Project, is represented by WME.  Gentle Passage was written as a birthday present for his husband.


[toggle type=”white” title=”Michelangelo and Tommaso ” active=””]

Michelangelo and Tommaso by James Rosenfield, Sacramento, CA

Genius, passion, and the bloodthirsty Inquisition collide and explode in James Rosenfield’s MICHELANGELO AND TOMMASO. The Catholic Church’s whitewash of the lifelong affair of Michelangelo and the Roman nobleman Tommaso de Cavalieri included a fictional biography, the burning of private papers, and the threat of heresy, until Tommaso finally fought back, rebelling against and the murdering of Pope Paul IV.

James Rosenfield has been writing since 1980, and has published two plays and two novels; has had produced over 20 plays, five of them off off Broadway; and placed in 30 contests, among them the Shubert Playwright in Residence for the University of Colorado, the New York Screenwriting contest, and playwright in residence for Playwrites Rep, a New York based feminist group.


[toggle type=”white” title=”The View UpStairs” active=””]

The View UpStairs by Max Vernon, New York, NYThe View UpStairs is an original musical inspired by the UpStairs Lounge Fire- a little known arson attack that occurred in 1973 in New Orleans. To this day it remains the worst massacre in US LGBT history.

Max Vernon is a composer/lyricist, playwright, and performer based out of NYC. His work has been praised in New York Magazine, The New Yorker, W, Out Magazine, among others. His musicals include Wired (Ars Nova, Eugene O’Neill Conference Finalist, NAMT finalist) The View UpStairs (NYU-Tisch, Two River Theater, Joe’s Pub, Weston New Musical Award Nominee), and Sugarbaby (Joe’s Pub). He is a 2013-2014 Dramatist Guild Theater Fellow.


[toggle type=”white” title=”Who Killed Joan Crawford?” active=””]

Who Killed Joan Crawford? by Michael Leeds, Boynton, FL

On a dark stormy night, five men arrive at a cabin for a surprise birthday party.  Each guest is dressed as the birthday boy’s favorite actress, Joan Crawford in one of her signature roles.  The “Joans” begin drinking and dishing until dark secrets emerge and soon there’s one Joan less… and then another… and.. Who Killed Joan Crawford?

Michael Leeds wrote and directed Swinging On A Star, (Tony nomination Best Musical).  His many directing credits include Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, (Drama Desk nomination Best Director/Best Choreographer) and the award-winning European Premiere of Arthur Miller’s Playing For Time. In addition to writing for the theatre, Michael co-wrote the films, The Simian Line starring William Hurt, and The Last Film Festival starring Dennis Hopper. He is currently Associate Artistic Director of South Florida’s Island City Stage.


Great Gay Play Contest Finalists (l to r) Michael Leeds, Max Vernon, Michael Mejia, James Rosenfield, and Paul Elliott



[toggle type=”white” title=”About Pride Films and Plays” active=””]

About Pride Films and Plays

Utilizing stories with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender characters or themes, Pride Films and Plays develops powerful theatrics that speak for the community and are essential viewing for all audiences.

Pride Films and Plays fosters excellence in writing for the stage and screen by connecting our Writers Network with our Artistic Ensemble and accelerating the process of moving important scripts from development to full production. When ready, these excellent works are then offered to theaters across the country.

Our season consists of three full productions – a world premiere, a Chicago premiere, and a reinvigorated classic – along with three weekend festivals of new ‘enhanced staged readings.’

Writers are invited to join our Writers Network when they are named a finalist in our contests – the Great Gay Play Contest, Women’s Work (for plays and screenplays with lesbian characters or themes, written by women), and the Great Gay Screenplay Contest.  The finalists earn cash prizes, and their plays performed as “enhanced staged readings” which include movement, blocking, and technical elements in the 150 Hoover-Leppen Theater in Center on Halsted.

The 2011 Great Gay Play Contest winner, Learn To Be Latina by Enrique Urueta, has had multiple regional productions, and the 2012 winner At The Flash by Sean Chandler and David Leeper was Jeff-recommended in Chicago, a hit in LA, and will be seen in Dublin next spring. Under A Rainbow Flag by Leo Schwartz, a finalist in last year’s contest, had its world premiere in Chicago this spring and won the Jeff Award for Best New Work and Best Musical Production. It has undergone a further revision and – now called Honor – will be remounted in Chicago in 2014.  And the 2013 contest winner Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead by Martin Casella had a successful run in the 150 seat thrust stage at Stage 773.  Our current full production is The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman running January 9 to February 9, 2014. Find more information on that project here.

In addition to our forward thinking play development, we feel strongly that we without knowledge of our past, we cannot truly know our way. Thus in addition to The Children’s Hour we have produced 20th Anniversary productions of The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me by David Drake and Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey.


For more information on contests or productions, visit