CincyFringe Preview: Queer in the U.S.A.

Title: Queer in the U.S.A.

Opening: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 at 09:00 PM
Location: Below Zero Lounge
Address: 1122 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Producer: The Faux-Real Theatre Company from New York, NY

CincyFringe Status: New Participant

Genre: Solo

Description: Johnny, a 14 year-old boy from Freehold, New Jersey, hungers to follow in the footsteps of his hero–Bruce Springsteen. Johnny, however, is made cruelly aware that his high-pitched soprano voice sounds more like Celine Dion or Barbra Streisand. He struggles against homophobia at school, even while his own sense of identity is uncertain. Facing brutal rejection from the Freehold High School Glee Club, Johnny sets off for New York City, where lovers, rockers, and Gypsies challenge him to embrace his queerness. He retraces Springsteen’s early career footsteps, hoping to mold himself into the image of his rock god. Does he have what it takes to rock like The Boss?

Show Length: 80 minutes

More info at the CincyFringe website Here.

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One Reply to “CincyFringe Preview: Queer in the U.S.A.”

  1. CincyFringe Review: Queer in the U.S.A.


    By Michelle Storm


    QUEER IN THE U.S.A., written and performed by Manuel Simons, was our last Fringe viewing of Cincinnati’s festival and thus, my friend and I were able to go out on a high note. I feel in my heart this performer's song and am greatly appreciative for what he shared on stage. What I witnessed was a gifted performer spinning an inventive, soulful, and well-crafted story. 


    Simons is in top form as he relates his quest to find his true voice, be it as it may in the upper register. Characters include a clear-eyed lover, an irreverent English rocker, a feckless authority figure in the guise of a singing instructor, taunting voices from haunted school days, and of course, the Boss. My favorite was the Gypsy mother, told with true passion and love, and in orbit with Johnny's (the teenage protagonist’s) own heart-wrenching journey towards validation and identity. 


    On the whole, QUEER IN THE U.S.A. is a familiar tale, poignantly and uniquely told. In terms of the script, I found it well balanced in how the different stories were interwoven, and came to a satisfying and climactic conclusion. Bruce Springsteen as the central figure was a wise choice as a universal symbol of America. It grounded this tale for me and also lent some surprise, as it goes against the stereotypes. The technical elements added seamlessly to the production, such effects as a fireworks display were in scale and eye-catching. Simple elements such as the use of the American flag and a red bandanna left indelible images when paired with Simons' rich singing. 


    The characterizations propelled me forward and Simons' broad strokes and deeply stirring interpretations kept me engrossed. Apart from an ending I thought could be perhaps tightened, I think the production had a lovely ebb and flow. This performer clearly ventures deep and it moved me to witness the vulnerability of man in this way. What I came away with was the complete and tender humanity of someone very different than myself. How gently we must treat each other in this life. I believe QUEER IN THE U.S.A. represents an intricate type of hope that is bound up in sensitive, creative souls. I intuitively loved the various facets and layers of this grizzled, broad-shouldered man-child. That he is a hulking figure in the crystal menagerie of this play only made me want to wrap my arms around him more. Here's hoping Mr. Simons continues to let his song be heard for many more Fringes to come…it is a beautifully honest one.

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