THE STORY: In the 1930s, burlesque impresarios welcomed the hilarious comics and musical parodies of vaudeville to their decidedly lowbrow niche. A headliner called “the nance” —usually played by a straight man—was a stereotypically camp homosexual and master of comic double entendre. THE NANCE recreates the naughty, raucous world of burlesque’s heyday and tells the backstage story of Chauncey Miles and his fellow performers. At a time when it was easy to play gay and dangerous to be gay, Chauncey’s uproarious antics on the stage stand out in marked contrast to his offstage life.
“A heartfelt new play set in the twilight of burlesque.” —The New York Times. “A nearly perfect work of dramatic art…” —The New Yorker. “A heartfelt period piece about coded and censored gay life in 1930s New York…this is Beane’s finest straight (well, straight-acting) play since THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED.” —Time Out (NY). “Douglas Carter Beane has found a way to use the campiness that is his primary theatrical color to relevant and moving effect…THE NANCE never hides its emotions behind a cloud of camp, nor does it settle for easy applause-sign trickery. (Even the political jokes are understated.) It shows you the real pain of a real man, and makes you feel what he feels.” —Wall Street Journal.