Love! Valour! Courage?

Park Square players: Executive director Stephen Lockwood and artistic director Richard Cook.

The remaining unknown for Lockwood and Cook is LVC's box office prospects. While acknowledging the show's built-in, target gay audience, Lockwood is utterly confident about the show's crossover potential. "It has an immediate, mass-market appeal for those people who are interested in Tony Award-winning Broadway shows," he says. "And it won all those awards not because it's about gay men, but because it's about humanity, and that's universal.

"I look at its strengths," he continues, "not its content. It's no more of a liability than any other show in our season. It's just one piece of a six-piece puzzle. If we were to worry about whether or not to do LVC, we'd also have to say, 'I don't know if we should do The Fantasticks because it's got a rape-ballet, or Harvey because it's about an alcoholic.'"

Timothy Lee, head of the local GLBT theater company Outward Spiral, is less sure of LVC's mainstream potential. "Park Square audiences are a little more accustomed to the classics," says Lee, who is moonlighting as Cook's assistant on the LVC production, "and a lot of them come from St. Paul, which is traditionally a little conservative. So this show could be controversial."

"You can never predict a Twin Cities audience," Lee adds. It's his experience at Outward Spiral that "the gay audience in particular, though very well educated, is also pickier and less forgiving." He cites the relatively low box office receipts of Illusion Theater's recent, gay-themed double bill of "Hey, Boy!" and "Forever Hold Your Piece." On the other hand, Theatre in the Round scored a critical and financial bullseye with its 1996 staging of Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey. But unlike the home-grown Illusion shows, both Jeffrey and LVC are proven stage successes that have been converted into Hollywood films.

Still, Park Square's management believes the play's universal themes will broaden its appeal -- as well as the theater's audience base. "We're not looking for homogenous, single groups" of patrons, Cook says. "As the theater evolves, we're constantly trying to build our audiences."

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