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  • ‘The Nance’ Is Bold, Brave, and Flawed

    Douglas Carter Beane’s “The Nance” is a bold, brave play, in which this eminent theatrical boulevardier reaches for something deeper and darker. Chronicling Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia’s crusade to wipe out burlesque, accomplished in part by the persecution of gay people, in 1937 New York City, the show offers taut direction from Jack O’Brien and a tour de force turn from the brilliant Nathan Lane. So it’s with great regret that I have to say that Beane’s yin-and-yang mix of low comedy and high tragedy, the personal and the political, never meshes.
    Middle-aged and gay, Chauncey Miles is on the bill at Union Square’s Irving Place Theatre playing a nance, a stereotypically effeminate homosexual whose material is laden with ribald double entendres about sex. One evening, while cruising for trade at the Automat, he meets the handsome Ned, a strapping young man from Buffalo who’s new to the city. They end up back at Chauncey’s apartment for a night of naughtiness, but when Chauncey discovers that Ned is actually gay, not straight, he allows the lad, who is homeless and broke, to stay with him. Soon they are a couple, with Ned going to work as a performer alongside his


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