“Milk, Milk Lemonade” – Stray Cat Theatre

This review was modified December 9, 2011 due to objections to my use of a specific word.  I appreciate the fact that this word usage and the way it was interpreted by many listeners and readers was pointed out to me.  I have learned from this situation and, of course, will not use the word again.

Chris Curcio

This review aired in a different version from the modified review below on KBAQ December 5, 2011


Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Performing Arts Center
Tempe, AZ

“Milk, Milk Lemonade,” Stray Cat Theatre’s latest, is a wacky, irreverent view of a young gay boy trying to live in the conventional world on his grandmother’s chicken farm.  It tells us it’s OK to be gay even if society doesn’t approve.  There’s lots of weirdness in how playwright Joshua Conkel’s tells this story and how the Stray Cat production looks at this situation that has been examined a lot recently.

For starters, casting is unusual.  A man plays the boy’s Nanna and a woman plays Emory, the boy.  There’s a talking hen, Linda, you come to know and love so when the chicken faces the expected slaughter, there’s a pang of sadness.  There’s Emory’s friend, Elliot, who the grandmother wants her grandson to emulate, but Elliot has his own secrets – he’s also gay, lusts after Emory, and loves to set fires.  Finally, there’s a madcap narrator, Lady in a Leotard, who is also played by a man.  Nothing conventional here and the short play takes an unusual route to discuss emerging gayness in young people.

The Stray Cat staging is fine.  It’s well acted, cleverly directed, and creatively conceived.  Louis Farber stages it with an exhilarating pace making the play breeze by effortlessly as it spins its bizarre storytelling.  The director is blessed with a bright barnyard set that allows the various plot machinations to play well and a chorus of chickens is crafted using little models.

Best is the able cast.  Kaleena Newman plays Emory with just a hint of gayness.  There’s nothing blatant or outlandishly over-the-top in her playing of this gay kid.  And you forget quickly that an actress plays Emory.  Sam Wilkes shines as Nanna sashaying around concerned that her grandson might not be straight but flipping a bird to his gender.  It’s a hoot of a performance.  Rod Amez suggests almost immediately that he has his eye on Emory but the cautious confirmation still comes as a surprise as this character could be either straight or gay.  Molly Kurtz clucks up a storm as Linda, the chicken, as she endears herself to audiences.  Finally, Michael Thompson has a field day with the Lady in a Leotard.  He’s plays the character proudly as he explains things to the audience, translates Linda’s chicken clucks, and keeps us moving ahead with Conkel’s message.

“Milk, Milk Lemonade” makes an excellent case that gays are no different than others and should be entitled to live their lives and pursue their loves without societal judging, but this oft told message is looked at uniquely here.  “Milk, Milk Lemonade” continues through December 17.  For tickets, call the Stray Cat Theatre box office at 480-634-6435 or order tickets online at www.straycattheatre.org.

Grade: B


5 Responses to ““Milk, Milk Lemonade” – Stray Cat Theatre”

  1. Danny Herrera said:

    Dec 09, 11 at 09:23

    “Michael Thompson has a field day with the Lady in a Leotard. He’s plays him as a swishy fag who is proud of it as he explains things to the audience, translates Linda’s chicken clucks, and keeps us moving ahead with Conkel’s message.”
    Your use of the term “swishy fag” is offensive and has no place in a review of a play. The review should be based on the delivery of the characters by the actors and your use of this term displays your own idea of what a gay man is you could have used other terms to convey your thoughts of how the actor gave the character pride in who he is.

  2. Brandon Wiley said:

    Dec 09, 11 at 10:16

    Though myself and many others were offended by your use of the word “fag” in your original review, we all respect and appreciate you for owning up to your mistake and being open minded as to why it is a damaging word. Thank you and continue doing what you do best.

  3. Danny Herrera said:

    Dec 09, 11 at 11:28

    Thank you for responding to feedback and amending your review.

  4. John Caswell said:

    Dec 09, 11 at 20:00

    Thank you, Chris. I look forward to reading your future reviews in hopes that your credibility is resurrected.

  5. naoma said:

    Dec 15, 11 at 23:33

    Saw the show tonight, 12-15. Loved it. I haven’t laughed so hard for a long, long time. Michael Thompson was a marvel. Such fluid movements and commentary were priceless. The play was not what I expected from a blurb about it before it came to the theater but I laughed so hard my sides hurt.