Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Private Romeo

Rising Stars Seth Numrich & Matt Doyle
Costar in Gay Indie Film & Broadway Stage Play

Young Broadway actors Matt Doyle and Seth Numrich (pronounced NOOM-rick) are filmed shaving in a locker room of a boys’ military high school – while delivering lines in iambic pentameter from Shakespeare. You’re not hallucinating, you’re watching director-writer Alan Brown’s Private Romeo, a provocative all-male film version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Brown tosses in YouTube videos, social networking and lip-synched Indie rock for a contemporary take on the Bard’s tale of star-crossed young lovers – as gay male soldiers-in-training. Brown gets the deed done with an all-male cast of eight in a compressed 90-minute film now showing in select markets after numerous accolades at film festivals. Amazingly, much of Shakespeare’s script is intact. For added realism Private Romeo was filmed at the SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, a high school in Mineola and Sarah Lawrence College.

From the routine of military training to stolen moments in shadowy hallways, Private Romeo's martial backdrop is a hotbed of homophobia and hazing rituals. Instead of Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers from rival families, the tension is transferred to eight male cadets, the only students on the grounds due to their peers going on a supervised land navigation exercise. They engage in marching, classwork, homework, and physical exercises. The classwork entails reading aloud from Romeo and Juliet. In the early moments the young men take on this task with a sort of goofy glee, mocking the boys portraying the female roles. But as the days pass, each becomes his part, and Sam/Romeo and Glenn/Juliet find themselves enamored with each other outside of class. The Bard’s celebrated play has a history of adaptability, having been transformed into Broadway’s classic West Side Story.

While filming Private Romeo together, Numrich (identifies as straight) and Doyle (identifies as gay) both auditioned for and were cast in Broadway’s War Horse, the Tony Award winner for Best Play of 2011. Both the current movie version of War Horse and the stage play are based on Michael Morpurge’s novel, acclaimed in all three forms. Private Romeo’s Seth Numrich (Private Sam Singleton) snagged the leading role of Albert in War Horse (still playing at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater). Doyle, who played Albert's cousin on stage, also understudied for Numrich's role. Numrich was the youngest student ever admitted into Juilliard's drama department, enrolling at age 16 in 2002. He played Adam in Gravity (2010), a TV comedy series about a group of eccentrics in an out-patient program for suicide survivors. Seth, who was a presenter at the 2011 Tony Awards, is a long distance runner when offstage.

Numrich, who grew up home schooled in St. Paul, also starred Off-broadway in Slipping (2009), a coming-of-age play by Daniel Talbott in which he played Eli, a gay high school senior in suburban Des Moines. The play was full to the brim with gay teen angst (as well as full-frontal nudity). Seth debuted on Broadway in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (2010), as Al Pacino's son-in-law Lorenzo.

Seth Numrich (with his arm around co-star Sean Hudock) in a behind-the-scenes video while making Private Romeo:

Numrich introduces War Horse as a nominee (and eventual winner) for Best Play of 2011 at the Tony Awards ceremony:

Matt Doyle (Cadet Glenn Mangan), who originated the role of Billy Narracott in Broadway’s War Horse, appeared on Broadway at age 19 in the hugely successful Spring Awakening. As well he played Jonathan (Eric’s boyfriend) on three seasons of TV’s Gossip Girl. Matt left War Horse last month to begin work on Giant, a new musical based on Edna Ferber’s novel (music and lyrics by out gay man Michael John LaChiusa). Doyle will play the role of Jordy Jr, portrayed by a young Dennis Hopper in the 1956 film (Giant is remembered as James Dean’s last starring film role, released after his death).

When not acting, openly gay Doyle (right) also performs as a songwriter, pop vocalist and recording artist. On August 15, 2011, Matt appeared at NYC's celebrated Le Poisson Rouge (video clip follows) to mark the release of Daylight, his first EP of 5 original songs, co-written with Will Van Dyke. Inspired by the golden age of soul music, Daylight includes a cover of Sam Cooke’s Lost and Lookin’.

Alan Brown (right) is gay writer and director of three feature-length Indie films, including Private Romeo. His film short, O Beautiful, was included as a segment of Boys Life 4: Four Play. Brown is currently shooting his latest project and fourth feature film, Five Dances, again as both writer and director. He is also the author of the award-winning novel, Audrey Hepburn's Neck, set in Japan.

1 comment:

  1. Hey check out (and like) an awesome review on the movie "Private Romeo" by one of the contributors of Culture Catch Mr. Judell at: