Seventeen New Plays And Musicals With LGBT Themes Or Characters Are Named Semi-finalists in PFP’s Great Gay Play and Musical Contest

A slate of 17 vibrant and kinetic new LGBT scripts and musicals have emerged as Semi-Finalists in Pride Films and Plays 2014 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest. They come from writers across the United States and Great Britain, and have been read by several dozen film and theater professionals.

The semi-finalists are:

  • All Around The Mulberry Bush by Tate A. Geborkoff
  • The Book Of Andy by Michael J. Mejia
  • Commander by Mario Correa
  • Eye Of The Storm book and co-composer/lyrics by McKinley Johnson, co-composers/lyrics by David Taylor and Marshall Titus
  • The First Step by Michael Leeds
  • Gentle Passage by Paul Elliott
  • The Glass Protégé by Dylan Costello
  • Homemade by Josh Levine
  • Mama’s Girls by Marilynn Barner Anselmi
  • Michelangelo and Tommaso by James Rosenfield
  • Private Proceedings by Philip Hall
  • Rake by Diane Baia Hale
  • Shit-House Crazy by Julie Akeret
  • The View UpStairs by Max Vernon
  • Trust Fall by Mary Steelsmith
  • Waiting… by Michael O’Dell
  • Who Killed Joan Crawford? by Michael Leeds

Three  of the plays are by Network Writers of Pride Films and Plays – Marilynn Barner Anselmi, Dylan Costello, and Mary Steelsmith – meaning they were a finalist in a least one previous contest. Two of the plays listed are by Michael Leeds, and represent the first time one playwright has had two works advance to the final round of judging.

Synopses of the plays and bios of the playwrights:

[toggle type=”white” title=”All Around the Mulberry Bush” active=””] All Around the Mulberry Bush by Tate A. Geborkoff, Chicago, IL

In All Around the Mulberry Bush a spontaneous moment of passion leads to a cycle of betrayals and retributions for two gay couples as they navigate an affair.

Tate A. Geborkoff is a playwright and poet whose dramatic work was most recently produced by Step Up Productions. His poetry has been published by Curbside Splendor and Burningword. Next summer, he will be performing at Chicago Fringe. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.[/toggle]

[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]

[toggle type=”white” title=”Commander” active=””] Commander by Mario Correa, Brooklyn, NY

In Mario Correa’s Commander, an ambitious politician battles public doubts, personal demons and his alcoholic partner in a troubled quest to become America’s first openly gay President.

Mario Correa writes for stage and television.  His play Tail! Spin!, starring Rachel Dratch and Mo Rocca and directed by Dan Knechtges (Broadway’s Lysistrata Jones), was a 2013 GLAAD Media Awards nominee for Outstanding New York Theater (Off-Off Broadway).  The fastest-selling show in NYC Fringe Festival history, Tail! Spin! will open commercially in New York next year.[/toggle]

[toggle type=”white” title=”Eye of the Storm” active=””]Eye Of The Storm book and co-composer/lyrics by McKinley Johnson, co-composers/lyrics by David Taylor and Marshall Titus, Chicago, IL

A new dramatic operetta based on actual events in the life of Bayard Rustin – a Civil Rights organizer who heavily influenced Dr. Martin Luther King but has been largely forgotten by history because he was an African American homosexual.

McKinley Johnson is a book writer, composer/lyricist, director, and educator.  His musicals have been produced by Open Door Repertory, Congo Square Theatre/Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Bailiwick Repertory, Chicago Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center – Washington, DC, and Karamu House.  Awards and commissions include: National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Grant, Pilgrim Project Grant, After Dark Award, Black Theatre Alliance Awards, and a Joseph Jefferson Nominee.


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The First Step by Michael Leeds, Boynton, FL

The First Step graphically depicts the true story of a gay Sex Addict’s turbulent journey toward Recovery. Employing flights of fantasy, Rap and even a Game Show, this dark comedy takes us from bars to bathhouses, back rooms to chat rooms, revealing a life rarely seen on stage.

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.


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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.


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The Glass Protégé by Dylan Costello, London, UK

Hollywood 1949. Naive young actor Patrick Glass feels the full force of the studios’ brute power when he embarks on a scandalous gay love affair with the brooding and enigmatic Hollywood heart-throb Jackson Harper, the ramifications of which will still be felt 40 years later…

Native Londoner Dylan Costello is a screenwriter and playwright – a career path he chose after being inspired by his journals of the madcap 3 years he spent travelling the globe in his youth. In 2005, his debut screenplay Coronado was a winner in the PAGE Awards and is currently in pre-production in Hollywood. Dylan then went on to have his first two stage plays produced in London in 2010 with his third Hello, Norma Jeane due to open in London in late 2014. Dylan also runs Giant Cherry Productions – his own LGBT Fringe theatre company in London.


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Homemade by Josh Levine, Astoria, NY

Two couples, one gay, one lesbian, decide to make a baby together, but when the home insemination kit from Walgreens doesn’t prove successful, they’re left with only one option. And what’s the worst that could happen? Homemade takes a humorous and poignant look at the complicated and mysterious process of creating a new family.

Josh Levine is the recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting for Homemade. He received his MFA in Playwriting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, where he teaches Screenwriting, and his BFA in Playwriting from The Theatre School, DePaul University. Josh is a proud member of The Dramatists Guild and Primary Stages’ New American Writer’s Group. For more information, please visit


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Mama’s Girls by Marilynn Barner Anselmi, Rocky Mount, NC
How much do twins share?  When Sammy, an 11 year old twin, determines she was incorrectly born a boy, her decision to transition wreaks havoc on the roles and responsibilities of every member her family.

Marilynn Barner Anselmi lives and works in rural North Carolina.  Mama’s Girls is her 8th full length script.  Her work has been performed in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, Washington, DC, Nashville, and throughout North Carolina.  She is a member of the Dramatist Guild of America


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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=”Private Proceedings” active=””]

Private Proceedings by Philip Hall, Longboat Key, FL

Marshall Evans is back home. There, two days ago, his partner was found shot to death. Today Marsh is being questioned by a young detective. There are questions about the shooting.

Philip Hall is the author of musicals, full-length plays, and 10-minute plays – including the Musical Life On The Mississippi, which recently premiered in New York City. His works have been produced around the country, and his published pieces include the comedies Inside The Department Of The Exterior and Customer Service.


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Rake by Diane Baia Hale, Chicago, IL

Occupied France, 1944:  When gay actor-turned-secret-agent Denis Rake is sent to spy on the Nazis, he never expects to fall in love–with a German officer.  Based on a true story.

Chicago playwright Diane Baia Hale specializes in historical drama and resurrecting forgotten heroes.  Other works include The Wisdom of Serpents, The Lion’s Share, The Marble Muse, Dragon’s Teeth, and The Fencing Lesson.


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Shit-House Crazy by Julie Akeret, Leeds, MA

Two people meet in the waiting room of their psychiatrist and realize they have been double-booked. Secrets are revealed as they fight over who is crazier and more deserving of the session.

Julie Akeret is an Emmy-award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her work focuses on a variety of social issues from gay and lesbian rights to the importance of the arts in education. Her work has been broadcast on PBS and is distributed nationally through Women Make Movies. For the last ten years, Julie has been writing fiction and non-fiction with Writers-in-Progress in Florence, MA. Shit-House Crazy is her first one-act play.


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Trust Fall by Mary Steelsmith, Los Angeles, CA
What if your girlfriend goes to college leaving you in danger of local bullies?  Answer: Follow her. And if she isn’t “out,” with a Bible-thumping roommate? Fall, and hope she catches you again.

Plays by Mary Steelsmith are produced in the United States and internationally.  Her popular Eileen Heckart Competition-winning same-sex wedding comedy, HAPPY AND GAY just finished a successful run at the Brown & Out 3 Festival in Los Angeles. Mary belongs to the ICWP, LAFPI, Dramatists Guild and ALAP.


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The View UpStairs by Max Vernon, New York, NY

The 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, The View UpStairs, and Sugarbaby. He is a 2013-2014 Dramatist Guild Theater Fellow.


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Waiting… by Michael O’Dell, Boulder, CO

Is graffiti a crime? Art? Both? GG, an aspiring L.A. Latino graffiti artist, sifts through his art, his heritage, and his relationships, striving to piece together his pixilated identity.

Michael O’Dell (composer, lyricist, playwright) has music directed a plethora of musicals from NYC to San Francisco. Most recently he served as Music Director for The National Tour of In the Mood. Other musicals: What Would Esther Williams Do in a Situation Like This? and The Souls of Her Feet.


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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.


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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.

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 we have produced 20th Anniversary productions of The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me by David Drake and Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey and in 2014 will present Lillian Hellman’s great drama The Children’s Hour.


*Denotes PFP Network Writer

**Denotes PFP Artistic Ensemble Member 

 For more information on contests or productions, visit

Mary Steelsmith, Dylan Costello, and Marilynn Barner Anselmi