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Secret Boulevard

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#1 Joe Porter

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 01:57 PM

'Secret Boulevard' is a brand new play telling the tale of a scandalous gay love affair between two male movie stars at the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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Synopsis: Hollywood 1949. In an era of stifling movie production restraints and   stars kept under oppressive control by their bosses, innocent young   actor Patrick Glass feels the full force of the studios' brute   career-destroying power when he embarks on a scandalous love affair with   his famous male co-star – the brooding and enigmatic Hollywood   heart-throb Jackson Harper…

  As the Hollywood powers-that-be and the prevailing social morality   clamp down on this unacceptable romance and decide to tear it apart, the   ramifications will still be felt forty years later in 1989…

  Written by Dylan Costello
  Directed by Manolis Emmanouel
  Set Designer – Ilaria D'intinosante
  Costume Designer – Claire Thompson
  Lighting Designer – Christina Thanasoula
  Production Manager – Victoria Cartwright
  Production Assistant – Caroline Babics


  Tim Blackwell as George
  Adam Blake as Jackson
  Julia Effertz as Ava
  James Hender as Lloyd
  Sid Phoenix as Patrick
  Anna Sambrooks as Candice
  Dee-Dee Samuels as Nella
  David Shackleton as Pat

  The play's inception began back in late 2005 when writer Dylan   Costello was living in Los Angeles. Spending an unusually rainy day   watching classic movies from the golden age of Hollywood, Dylan became   fascinated by the reality back then of gay actors such as Montgomery   Clift and Rock Hudson and how they dealt with hiding their true   sexuality amongst the cogs of the great Hollywood Machine. Further   research into the era uncovered truths and lies about the attitudes   towards homosexuality in the 1940's movie industry, especially when the   moralistic Production Code was in full force, forbidding even the hint   of sexually ambiguous behaviour on the silver screen. This was Hollywood   after all, a twisted utopia where image, control, money and power were   the only things that mattered. A place where the reality never matched   the fantasy – and a world that required the forced suppression of one's   homosexuality should one want to keep their movie career. But this was   the 1940's and you would think that these homophobic attitudes would   have been gradually erased over the last few decades. But the sad truth   is that they haven't and still to this day, gay actors are being asked   to choose between their sexuality and their career… and so the Hollywood   closet is as full as it ever was.

  Secret Boulevard premieres at the Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton, London   on Tuesday 5th October 2010 and runs every Tues-Sun @ 7.30pm until   Sunday 7th November 2010.

  ** Over 16s only – contains nudity, strong language and scenes of a sexual nature.**

  Ticket Prices £15 full, £13 concessions.

  Box office www.ticketweb.co.uk / 0844 477 1000

  www.thecourtyard.org.uk / 020 7729 2202

  The Courtyard Theatre,
  Bowling Green Walk,
  40 Pitfield St,
   London N1 6EU
  (exit 2 from Old Street Tube)

#2 RobW



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Posted 07 October 2010 - 08:51 AM

Saw the first preview of this show and if this new production is anything to go by then gay theatre in London is reaching new heights. Coming just a few months after the successful ‘Holding the Man’ comes this new, wonderfully moving new show detailing a doomed gay love affair between male movie stars in 1940s Hollywood. Despite not having the kind of budget available to a lavish West End production, the cast and crew of Secret Boulevard have still managed to put together a stunning piece of theatre here, thoroughly deserving life beyond the London Fringe.

  The story here in Secret Boulevard is simple yet deeply compelling. Switching between 1949 and 1989 (cleverly using light effects on the famous Hollywood sign to let us know when we are), we are introduced to a memorable, complex set of characters as they all find themselves not being allowed  to love who they really want to. Deceit, sex, thwarted affairs and the machinations of the simply divine bitchy gossip columnist Nella (played with wicked relish by Dee-Dee Samuels), all combine to create a tale that in turn had me laughing, crying and gasping in shock.

  In particular the two male leads (played by Adam Blake and Sid Phoenix) simply radiate electricity as the star-crossed gay lovers embarking on their secret affair behind the scenes of their Hollywood movie. You are instantly drawn into their burgeoning relationship, feeling like you are those watchful eyes of Hollywood that the two men fear so much.

  The director Manolis Emmanouel has given this play a cinematic feel of a movie – and it works wonderfully. One particular amusing scene consists of some of the cast re-enacting a scene just as silhouettes behind a screen – a reference to the deeply effecting themes of Dylan Costello’s script  – love having to be conducted in secret, in hiding, in the shadows.

  Secret Boulevard? A show like this doesn’t deserve to be a secret at all!

#3 Guest_Guest_Daniel_*_*

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 05:29 PM

I watched Secret Boulevard last night and thought it was terrific.
A moving story, that could even make a glam West End show, cleverly put on the tiny Courtyard Stage by director Manolis Emmanouel. He has found clever solutions for the play's complex settings and he has orchestrated a well-paced and emotionally affecting production.
Sid Phoenix as Pat is superb-watch this space, a young actor with lots of talent. His on-stage lover Adam Blake looks very comfortable as Hollywood star Jackson Harper. The rest of the cast is equally strong and special mention should go to Tim Blackwell that plays George. He's a great actor and manages to evoke sympathy for a character who could have been potentially played as a pantomime villain...
I would definitely recommend this play, everyone in the audience seemed to have enjoyed it loads.

#4 Guest_Guest_Jonathan_*_*

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 10:58 AM

Totally agree with you Daniel. I saw Secret Boulevard last night and was blown away by just how much it affected me. Poignant, emotional and funny too, it really captured the imagination and the audience were lapping up every moment. Sid Phoenix and David Shackleton really stood out for me, playing the younger and older version of the same character. Deeply imaginative and very well staged, this is a show that has to be seen. The fantastic cast thoroughly deserved their second curtain call.

#5 Guest_Alan Baylis_*

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 12:36 PM

Couldn't agree more! Secret Boulevard is simply a beautiful, extremely moving piece of theatre. What is essentially a powerful critique of Hollywood’s hypocritical treatment of gay actors is that and so much more. For one, setting the story in a dual timeframe of 1949 and 1989 adds a much weightier and thought-provoking take on the machinations of the Hollywood machine and leaves you to marvel at how Hollywood today still hasn’t really moved on from it’s homophobic attitudes of decades ago. One has to wonder what today’s closeted gay film stars would make of Dylan Costello’s biting social commentary of choosing one’s career over one’s true sexuality.

Secret Boulevard effortlessly flashes back and forth between both time periods, with a seamless blend of scene changes utilising music and lighting effectively to let us know where/when we are. (Watch out also for the genius use of the Hollywood/Hollywoodland sign for this effect).

A talented cast also shine here in a production that will leave you laughing out loudly one minute then crying into your drink the next. Strong mention goes especially to the female members of the cast, Julia Effertz. Dee-Dee Samuels and Anna Sambrooks, a trio of memorable actresses playing a German mail-order bride, a acidic gossip columnist and a anything-but-dumb blonde movie sex siren, respectively.

Adam Blake and Sid Phoenix fill the auditorium with sexual tension as the illicit gay lovers at the centre of the story, whilst David Shackleton as the older version of one the them, will simply break your heart as the ramifications of his 1949 affair still conspire to upset his life forty years later.

I sincerely hope that this debut run of Secret Boulevard is just the beginning of this wonderful show’s life. This is a show simply begging to be transferred to the West End. Don’t miss it.

#6 Viceroy


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Posted 17 October 2010 - 03:46 PM

OK folks, as you might suspect from all these glowing reviews there a fair amount of shilling going on here.

Doesn't necessarily negate the praise, but only fair to warn you they may very well not be as impartial as the apparent variety of names implies.

#7 FrontRowDress


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Posted 23 October 2010 - 04:23 PM

Off to see this tonight, so I'll give an unbiased opinion later, never been to the Courtyard either so looking forward to it.

#8 FrontRowDress


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Posted 23 October 2010 - 10:37 PM

Firstly, really enjoyed it, after managing to sit through two acts of the illustrated lecture that is Onassis on Thursday night this script actually made me care about the characters and wanting to know how their stories unfolded. As someone said above the three women are really strong, so strong that they actually act all their male counterparts off the stage, apart from the wonderfully creepy George played by Tim Blackwell. If you've got a free evening you could do worse than getting to this quirky little studio that feels kind of like a tiny school hall in Hoxton and, with some work, this touching story could definitely set its' sights on somewhere bigger.

#9 Nosferatu777


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Posted 07 November 2010 - 12:45 AM

On the whole I found the show to be very disappointing and a huge waste of a potentially interesting and entertaining premise. Overly long-winded and melodramatic, it would have been much better served by using the older incarnation of the characters as a prologue/epilogue instead of breaking up the central story repeatedly, which could have been so much more interesting and powrfull if it had been given the respect it deserved. I also couldn't see the so-called "strong" performances mentioned on here from any of the cast members, to me the standard of acting rarely rose above pantomime or soap opera level, although there were times I very much sympathised with the cast as the script really hung them out to dry frequently. Listening to conversations in the bar prior to and after the performance it seemed quite clear that many of the audience were there primarily to see Sid Phoenix naked and sadly I have to concur that it probably was the highlight of an otherwise quite tiresome evening.

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