The Last Sunday in June: A light-hearted romp featuring men in love

As the lights go down, the audience is welcomed into the world and worries of Michael (Nate Clark) and Tom (Jeff Meacham), two gay lovers entering their Christoper Street apartment. This is the setting for Jonathon Tollins’ The Last Sunday in June, currently playing at the Caldwell Theatre.

The plot centers on an annual Gay Pride Day in New York and the lives of Michael and Tom. Michael, a stiff yet handsome young teacher, wants to shop for knick-knacks at a local Pottery Barn store because Tom, a successful lawyer, has purchased a house for them in a conservative upper-crust neighborhood. Tom, more outgoing and laid back, wants to stay home and watch the annual parade pass by through their living room window. Suddenly, a buzzer rings, and one by one a colorful band of characters who are friends of the couple enter. They have all decided to come to the couple’s apartment, knowing that they can have a first-class viewing of the festivities down below. Among them are: Brad (Jack Garrity), a writer with an insatiable thirst for pop culture trivia; Charles (Steve Hayes), a flamboyant show tunes and opera lover; Scott (Dean Strange), a hunky muscle-man, and Joe, (John Bixler) an ever open-minded and precocious young man.

Tom, to the chagrin of Michael, invites James (Tim Burke), a novelist and former lover of Tom’s. James, unhappy, bitter and sexually frustrated, announces that he is marrying his friend Susan (Beth Bailey), a beautiful young publisher. As James declares his anger and commitment to rejecting the gay community that he claims has shunned him and tells the group he has finally found a fulfilling relationship (and with a woman, no less!), the men at the party begin contemplating their various points of view about love, life, and coping with being gay.

The play has some juicily-drawn performances from leads Meacham and Clark, as well as the rest of the ensemble. Nate Clark’s subtle and affecting performance as the uptight Michael is excellent in conveying a man who has a need to communicate and express his emotions to Tom. He is repressed on many levels, mainly due to his desire to maintain material security. Jeff Meacham’s portrayal of Tom, outgoing and flirtatious, is the perfect counterbalance to Michael’s more serious personality. His devil-may-care attitude and flawless demonstration of the “perfect” relationship is a brilliant mask of what their relationship really represents.

The supporting cast, notably Steve Hayes’ hilarious portrayal of the typical opera/Broadway obsessed queen, is a hoot. His delivery of punch lines is a marvel, especially when the dialogue moves to a more serious tone. Last but not least is Beth Bailey’s portrayal of Susan. Her character is an unconditionally loving person that may baffle one who is used to seeing a relationship played out in only a single and “traditional” way.

Michael Hall’s direction of the material is flawless. His handling of the snappy, sparkling dialogue between the characters is reminiscent of the dialogue from Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band, the difference being that this script is more of a light-hearted romp featuring men in love, rather than a play that has cruelty and manipulation written all over it.

The Last Sunday in June is an excellent and well-crafted production that boasts several brilliant performances. Skillfully directed, it certainly makes one want to come back every Sunday and not make any visit their last.

The Last Sunday in June> is playing from June 20-July 27 at the Caldwell Theatre, located on 7873 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton.