By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Director Warner Jacobi has a couple of good actors in his cast. Allen Mathews exhibits a well-honed Ned Beatty bluster as a red-state politician/prosecutor trying to make political hay out of homophobia. Dick Monday, playing numerous roles, including the 16th president, is head-to-toe funny every minute he's visible. Some other members of the large ensemble, who will go nameless here, should investigate taking some acting classes.
The amateur status of Level Ground Arts is evident in the cardboard scenery, splotchy lighting and poor direction. Actors line up single file across the stage (always the sign of the non-pro theater troupe), and they frequently turn their backs and talk to the back wall.
Testing patience even further, the broad comedy too often lapses into heavy polemic speechifying. Valid points are made about intolerance and the rights of gays and ethnic minorities, but playwright Loeb is no Larry Kramer. He's not even Cosmo Kramer.
Running just under three hours, Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party could cut half its dialogue and most of its dancing and be twice as funny. Four score and seven minutes' worth sounds just about right.
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