Weathervane Playhouse Puts LGBT Issues Onstage

From left: Brian Westerley as Greg, Christine Wright as Alex and Dede Klein as Judy. [Aimee Lambes Photography]
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Weathervane Playhouse in Akron is staging A Kid Like Jake by Daniel Pearle January 12-22.  It tells the story of a four-year-old boy who prefers playing with dolls and dressing up like Disney princesses. Jake's parents are attempting to get him into an exclusive private school and debating whether Jake's unique personality will help or hinder his application.

Weathervane  Playhouse artistic director Melanie Pepe says the production was inspired by an onstage mistake.

Last season during a performance of Putnam County Spelling Bee, a show that brings audience members on stage, an actress accidentally misidentified a student.

After the show, they apologized to the young person, who they also learned was transitioning.

“We thought, ‘well, that’s a question we never thought to ask,” Pepe said.

After that and other conversations with teachers dealing with similar issues in school, Pepe said it made sense to continue this conversation on stage.

Meanwhile Weathervane enlisted educational consultant Jeff Bixby to assist in the production.  Bixby is president of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), which works with local schools to create safe environments for all students regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identification.

"It's a perfect match for us assist," Bixby said. "And to be there for every night of the performances to answer questions that anyone might have."

Learn more about the production and the education surrounding it Tuesday at 12:33 p.m. and 1:40 p.m.on Here and Now featuring the Sound of Applause on 90.3.


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