Stanford Calderwood Pavillion
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont St.
March 12 – April 9, 2016
Written by Robert O’Hara
Directed by Summer Williams
Role: Actor Four (Reverend Benson, Writer 3, Stepfather, Larry, Old Granny)
“Also up to the demands of “Bootycandy’’ are Parent’s talented costars—Tiffany Nichole Green, Jackie Davis, John Kuntz, and the great Johnny Lee Davenport—each of whom breathes vivid, often fierce life into several different characters.
sssssAn early high point of the SpeakEasy production—and an early illustration of how O’Hara can blithely upend our assumptions—features Davenport as Reverend Benson, offering a stalwart defense of gay members of the youth choir against letters of denunciations by members of his church’s congregation. There proves to be more to the reverend, sartorially speaking, than initially meets the eye, and when he throws inhibition to the winds, it makes for a memorable sight.”
—Don Aucoin, Boston Globe (March 15, 2016)
“There follows a scene in a black church when the minister (Davenport) sermonizes about gossip from the ‘I heard’ folk and references the terms ‘screw and nut’ about heterosexual intercourse that he describes as a ‘teachable moment,’ before he reveals he has more up his sleeve than we first realize. The bit goes on a tad too long with a predictable payoff, but Davenport carries it off so well it works.
sssssThe final scene, between Sutter and his Old Granny in a nursing home, again manages to tie together a lot of the prior sketches, with Davenport giving his all as the old lady and Parent doing a smashing Michael Jackson turn, silver glove in hand, declaring that if men would only connect sexually, ‘there’d be peace in the world.’”
—Jack Craib, South Shore Critic (March 16, 2016)
“Director Summer Williams pulls these five fine actors together in kaleidoscopic combinations, each of which throws a different light on the broad issues being addressed by Mr. O’Hara.”
—Al Chase, The White Rhino Report (March 16, 2016)
“Director Summer L. Williams seems to have encouraged her excellent cast—which also includes Tiffany Nichole Greene and John Kuntz—to rev up their characters for maximum impact. Davis is hilarious as a working mother with an over-the-top distaste for a co-worker. Davenport gleefully chews the scenery — plus an order of ribs — as both a preacher and an elderly woman.”
—Jeremy D. Goodwin, The ARTery (March 17, 2016)
“This first rate ensemble is mostly marvelous in multiple roles, among them: Johnny Lee Davenport as a fiery preacher who knows how to enflame a congregation.”
—Joyce Kulhawik, Joyce’s Choices (March 17, 2016)
“Except for Maurice Emmanuel Parent, the cast members play multiple roles, and do so with masterful fluidity.
sssssKuntz has turned into a clueless, spectacularly insensitive moderator, while Greene and Davis, along with Johnny Lee Davenport, all portray the other playwrights.
sssssDavenport, along with Kuntz, also plays a preacher, and later on he also dons a wig and a robe to take on the role of Sutter’s grandmother, a reflexively gutter-mouthed survivor of a hardscrabble life who, when faced by the happily bubbling Sutter (who has just come up with a novel path to world peace), is–despite her salty vocabulary–left speechless. (She’s similarly undone when, decades later, the adult Sutter describes the huge food order he’s placing from a nearby barbecue joint using his iPhone).
sssssAs hard as you laugh during these two hours and fifteen minutes, you’ll think harder afterwards.”
—Killian Melloy, EdgeMediaNetwork (March 18, 2016)
“Meanwhile, [director Summer Williams] trusts the abilities of her actors to portray nearly two dozen characters and we reap the benefits, getting to see five knockout performances by Parent as the protagonist Sutter, Tiffany Nichole Greene, Jackie Davis, Johnny Lee Davenport, and John Kuntz. All but Parent play multiple roles, such as mothers, siblings, writers, preachers, lesbians, a white man, and a grandmother.
sssssKuntz is gripping in a solo piece as a guy accosted on the street late at night by a wouldbe mugger, only to take the character deeper in a subsequent sketch when he meets Parent and Davenport in a bar. In another scene, Davenport stands tall and proud as Reverend Benson, teaching and preaching to his congregation about rumors of homosexual behavior among the choir boys. He is equally impressive as Sutter’s Old Granny who is not too old to extort money from the young man when he visits her in the nursing home.”
—Nancy Grossman, BroadwayWorld.com (March 18, 2016)
“The cast’s chemistry and range was unprecedented, each performer as dynamic and hilarious as the last. . . . Johnny Lee Davenport was a damn queen as the fabulously sassy Reverend Benson, and then a charming riot as Old Granny.
—Travis Manni, The New England Theatre Geek (March 19, 2016)
“In his SpeakEasy Stage debut, Johnny Lee Davenport brings his considerable gifts as an actor to five different roles including Sutter’s stepfather, his grandmother, his gay friend and a writer. As Reverend Benson, whose ire is raised when gossipmongers in his congregation grow from ‘I heard. . .’ to a ‘They heard . . .’ group with its judgmental sights set on young gay choir members, Davenport is a preacher fed up with homophobia and ready to confront bigotry with candor and revelation.
sssssCalling for a teachable moment, the preacher turns to the ‘Gospel according to RuPaul’ and doffs his vestments to reveal a Vegasworthy silver lamé gown and skyhigh glitter pumps by costume designer Amanda Mujica, whose fine work enhances the entire production.”
—R. Scott Reedy, Wicked Local (March 22, 1016)
“Cut to the next scene, featuring that everebullient actor Johnny Lee Davenport as the Reverend Benson. You’ll enjoy adding your chortles to his sermon. I refuse to spoil it any further. Suffice it to say, Davenport tickles the funny bone with his outlandish mannerisms, his grinning gapped teeth, and a basso profundo voice that fills the theater.”
—Robert Israel, The Arts Fuse (March 22, 2016)
“Under the direction of Summer L. Williams, the juxtapositions in the first act make little sense, except to deliver some hilarious moments. A campy Johnny Lee Davenport harangues his flock from behind a pulpit . . .”
—Iris Fanger, TheaterMania.com (March 23, 2016)
“Johnny Lee Davenport sashays with gospel gusto as Reverend Benson, brings macho intensity to Stepfather and catches all of Old Granny’s spirit. Parent and Davenport make the pivotal Sutter-Old Granny reunion both riveting and deeply moving.”
—Jules Becker, My South End (March 24, 2016)
“Johnny Lee Davenport shines as he moves from the spectacular Reverend Benson, to the butch, almost taciturn stepdad, then to the garrulous grandmother.”
—Michele Markarian, Events Insider (March 26, 2016)
“Not to be missed is Boston’s favorite award-winning actor Johnny Lee Davenport, portraying the Rev. Benson, a ‘progressive’ minister, who goes to extraordinary lengths to drive home a “teachable” sermon. Tall, handsome, brawny Davenport is magnetic, standing at the pulpit, preaching like hell’s fury about some parishioners’ gossip-mongering, and their accusations of choir boys’ anti-church-like, homosexual behavior. Things don’t always seem the way they are, he intones, while donning a long, wavy female wig, glittery silver spike heels, then unzipping his priestly black robe to reveal his skin-tight, sparkly sheath dress underneath. These series of scenes seem unrelated, but circuitously tie together.”
—Sheila Barth, The Theater Mirror (March 26, 2016)
“Clever skits start out hilariously (like Maurice Parent’s adorable, inquisitive six year old or Johnny Lee Davenport’s righteous Reverend Benson), then wear out their welcome when they run too long. . . . Lucky for [playwright] O’Hara, director Summer L. Williams has a dream cast to inhabit all the loosely connected roles. . . . what was always clear was the caliber of performance.
—Beverly Creasey, Boston Arts Review (March 28, 2016)
“Johnny Lee Davenport, Jackie Davis, Tiffany Nichole Greene, John Kuntz, and Maurice Emmanuel Parent give fabulously over the top performances in their revolving roles as grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, mothers, lovers, friends, and preachers. Each has at least one scene that takes down the house.
sssssJohnny Lee Davenport’s turn as a preacher who, during a memorable sermon, doffs his minister robe to reveal a slinky silver lamé gown and glittery size 12 high heels sets the bar for outrageousness in an early scene.”
—Paul A. Tamburello Jr., pt at large (April 1, 2016)
“Johnny Lee Davenport, Jackie Davis, Tiffany Nichole Greene, John Kuntz and Maurice Emmanuel Parent comprise the cast, playing multiple roles throughout the show. The cast handle rapidly changing roles and plotlines remarkably well. Davenport morphs effortlessly from a conservative father to a technologically challenged grandmother, adding humor to difficult topics without losing the scene’s believability.”
—Celina Colby, The Bay State Banner (April 6, 2016)
“The skilled ensemble knew how to handle a comedy as well as pathos, and Williams invited us to laugh at situations representative of real human suffering without erasing the reality of that suffering. It is clear that Williams stands on the side of the audience’s pleasure.”
—Josh Platt, Howl Round (May 19, 2016)