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LA Theater Review

Solomania: ¡Gaytino! and Live From The Front

Dan Guerrero is a gay man of a certain age; thus, he is in a position to have firsthand stories from L.A. in the 1950s as well New York in its pre-Stonewall and disco periods. There's a familiarity to any play in this genre when the teller comes to the realization that "there's nothing wrong with being me." And yet Guerrero's life has been like few others. His father, Lalo Guerrero, was known as the "father of Chicano music" and cast a shadow so huge that his son had to cross the country to escape it and try to find himself in musical theatre. But get this: Dan's father asked him, while Dan still lived at home, if he was gay, and said it was okay, they would understand, and Dan lied and said he wasn't. It's never easy talking sex with parents, but, honestly: How many people get that pass? That said, his life trajectory has been fascinating, and he tells it well in ยกGaytino!. He sings a little. He dances a little. And while it's quite charming, it's clear why he left the musical stage for a far more successful career in talent management.

Wordsmith and KPFK show host Jerry Quickley hied himself to preinvasion Iraq as a response to the lack of Iraqi voices being heard in this country. His tale, Live From the Front, being absorbed in the cool comfort of the Kirk Douglas, beggars belief. Just getting a visa to enter the country was an enormous undertaking and quite expensive for a man in the employ of "broke-ass Pacifica." Two days into "shock and awe," though, the government functionaries, not yet aware there was no longer a government for which to function, told Quickley they would have to escort him back to Jordan, as his visa was no longer in order. The resulting trip is a group tour booked by Hieronymus Bosch. Quickley's way with language bewitches, whether he's delivering an aria of anger about his youth or relating human tragedy that seems bottomless. When it's over, the listener is torn between wanting more yet being unable to hear another word of such horror. Quickley's photos of Iraqis, which provide mute backdrop, reinforce mankind's commonality, which sounds trite but rings true. The fate of any of them, of course, is unknown.

Presented by Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Repertory schedule. May 12-Jun. 11. (213) 628-2772.

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