For Its Upcoming Season, Island City Stage Spotlights All Sides of the LGBTQ Community

Island City Stage has an incredibly diverse lineup of plays taking the stage during its 2022-23 season.
Island City Stage has an incredibly diverse lineup of plays taking the stage during its 2022-23 season. Photo by Matthew Tippins
For the past decade, Island City Stage has been South Florida's sole LGBTQ-focused theater company.

"We look to confront the issues and discuss the themes important to our community," says Andy Rogow, Island City Stage's artistic director and cofounder.

The Wilton Manors-based company was founded in 2012 after another gay-focused theater company dissolved.

"We were formed out of the ashes of another theater company, Rising Action. There were board members of that company who didn't want to see gay theater disappear down here," Rogow explains. "That first season, we worked in partnership with other companies. That allowed us to have smaller budgets, so we didn't need a lot of money to start. We didn't want to do plays with gratuitous sex or nudity, which is what people associate with gay theater. We wanted to look for great stories."

In the beginning, there were a few challenges. Since Island City's dressing room only could accommodate eight people at a time, productions featuring large casts were out of the question. The company also wanted to be sensitive to diversity.

"We look to serve every letter in LGBTQ, which gives us extra diversity concerns," Rogow says. "We also want to pay attention to racial and gender diversity."

With that in mind, Rogow is incredibly proud of the lineup Island City Stage will present for the upcoming 2022-23 season. Things kick off with the musical Pageant, which runs from October 20-November 20.

"Last season's productions were fairly heavy," Rogow adds. "We wanted to start things off this season with something light and fluffy that will make people laugh and have a good time."

Premiering Off-Broadway in 1991, Pageant was conceived by director and choreographer Robert Longbottom, with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly and music by Albert Evans. Island City Stage's promotional material describes the production as "Miss America competition meets RuPaul's Drag Race." The twist? The audience acts as the judge and selects which contestant wins the pageant.

Jon Brittain's award-winning play Rotterdam follows, running from January 19-February 19. "This is about a lesbian couple where one partner decides to transition into becoming a man," Rogow explains. "It's a dramedy that is not especially heavy. There is a lot of humor in it. It has a story we don't often hear, which I think is what we do best." The play premiered in London in 2015 and won the Olivier Award for "Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre" in 2017.

In the spring, I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart takes the stage from March 2- April 2. Written by Morgan Gould, the play tells the story of an overweight woman and her gay male best friend who move in together after college. Unfortunately, their closeness ends with the two friends constantly smothering one another. The show will be a co-production with the Atlanta-based Out Front Theatre Company. While Island City Stage performances usually feature South Florida actors, this production will have an all-Atlanta-based cast.

The comedy Tracy Jones, written by Stephan Kaplan, arrives on May 18-June 18, marking its Florida premiere. The story involves the titular character throwing a party where every woman invited shares her name.

And finally, from August 3-September 3, audiences will be able to catch Springfield Pride, an entirely original work commissioned by Island City Stage. The yet-to-be-completed play currently being written by Nick Malakhow explores the fallout when a liberal cisgender politician makes an offensive comment about Black Lives Matter and whether he will still be able to be the grand marshal of a city's Pride parade and aims to explore divisions within the LGBTQ community.

Even with a packed season ahead, Rogow doesn't have a favorite.

"Everything we do is good," he says. "If there's one you want to see, it depends on whether you prefer drama versus comedy or something contemporary versus something classic."

Island City Stage. 2304 N. Dixie Hwy., Wilton Manors; 954-928-9800; Tickets for each show cost $35, and season tickets cost $185.
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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland