Uptown Players’ ‘Silver Foxes’ Is Mostly Sold Out (also a review)

Uptown Players’ ‘Silver Foxes’ Is Mostly Sold Out (also a review)
Uptown Players’ ‘Silver Foxes’ Is Mostly Sold Out (also a review)

The cast of Uptown Players’ ‘Silver Foxes.’ (Courtesy photo)

The world premiere at Uptown Players Silver fox quickly became a golden ticket. Written by The golden girls and Roseanne writers Stan Zimmerman and James Berg and directed by actor Michael Urie, the show already had a lot of pedigree, plus, you know, it’s a world premiere. As of Sunday afternoon, according to Uptown Players producer and founder Jeff Rane, the rest of the play, which plays in the Theater Three room, is officially sold out.

According to the website, there are about five open seats across this weekend’s race, so grab one quick if you can โ€“ because it is so worth it. Silver fox was a funny and poignant romp centered around four gay men, two dealing with middle age, another escaping his homophobic hideout, and a twink who really just doesn’t know any better most of the time.

RELATED: TV Star Michael Urie Directs Uptown Players’ Silver fox world premiere

A former live-in couple, Chuck (BJ Cleveland) and Benny (Robert San Juan) live together in present-day Palm Springs. They argue about the everyday things that go on in their house and neighborhood โ€“ especially their lesbian neighbors Nika and Tirsh (Leslie Marie Collins) who want to buy Chuck’s mid-century home. They navigate hookup apps, foster cats, FitBit heart rates and also their middle age status in the gay universe.

Their friend Jerry’s twink boyfriend Toby (Edson Montenegro) who worships at the altar of Britney and social media ends up as an extended houseguest. Former hairdresser to the stars Cecil (Jon Morehouse) has run away from his gay-friendly nursing home to Chuck and Benny’s place. They all work together to save Cecil while discovering more about each other and themselves.

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As scribes are Berg and Zimmerman, Silver fox has complete sitcom appeal along with the stop-for-laugh lines that make up the hilarious and cheeky exchanges between the men. But within that, the writers mix humor with heart. Although they have embraced the Middle Ages before with the GGs, the display here was a lovely and refreshing feeling. Basically, here we are, queer and middle-aged.

While Chuck and Benny, Cleveland and San Juan found the lived feeling of these two former long time lovers/friends. Their chemistry was perfect for the puzzle. The natural vibe with each other was so good that it was a complete afterthought to realize it. Cleveland can easily deliver a grand performance, but his understated Chuck gave the show and his character a gravitas that anchored the story. San Juan does the same thing only with a little more flair. Benny is equally centered in the story, but San Juan painted him with lovely compassion.

To Toby the twink, Montenegro was lovable fun. The role relied heavily on a bubbly and self-centered sass that Montenegro delivered strongly. But as audiences got to learn more about Toby, they brought a tender vulnerability to the character. Even with Toby’s ignorance of queer history and unintentional jabs at the older guys, they played Toby with irresistible charm.

Cecil was also a vivid personality that Morehouse delivered with panache. He dipped his toe into many facets of Cecil, first as fabulous and car-free for a meek patient of Collins’ stern and conservative ward director Miss Swenson. Morehouse then layered anger, frustration and kindness into other scenes with impressive ease.

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Every time Collins was on stage, she was a different character from the power lesbian couple (yes, both) to eventually Toby’s potential zaddy. Her most spectacular moment was as her neighbor Helene. There are shades of Jennifer Coolidge in Collins’ wiry, blonde grandmother with her tight dress and martini glass in hand, but she left a lasting and side-splitting impression โ€“ especially when she snapped her own cursed wig.

Urie’s direction kept the show in perpetual motion without skimping on humor or drama. Like a TV sitcom (which this story could easily be) no moment felt wasted. This gave the show a powerful energy that was only enhanced by the cast. Kevin Brown’s set was cleverly designed to fit in the main living room, kitchen and dining room and sliding glass doors to the patio and pool house as well as attention to the porch which was often unseen by the closed door. To complement, Amanda West’s designs gave off sunny Palm Springs vibes, but were often brilliant in portraying different times of day and moods.

What was most evident was the love Berg and Zimmerman have for these characters. They were relatable and human with flaws, but mostly they painted a glorious picture of queer culture that isn’t dominated by thirst-trap abs and pecs. Aging and queerness are one thing Silver fox proved that with some good friends, cocktails and maybe a penis-shaped cake, middle age can be amazing.

-Rick Lopez

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