Stage Door Theatre Company opened its production of Paul Rudnick's Jeffrey at the Byron Carlyle Theater in Miami Beach on April 12, 2013.
Jeffrey, a gay actor/waiter, has sworn off sex after too many bouts with his partners about what is "safe" and what is not. Suddenly, just after he's reconciled himself to celibacy, Jeffrey's flamboyant friends introduce him to the man of his dreams, who also happens to be HIV-positive. What follows is an audacious and moving romantic comedy with a difference—one in which the quest for love and really fabulous clothes meet, and where unflagging humor prevails even when tragedy might be just around the corner.
Dan Kelly directed a cast that included himself, Randy Charleville, Miki Fridh, Clay Cartland, Daniel Robert Rosenstrauch, and Frank Vomero.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Jeffrey, which has resurfaced in a buoyant, touching production by the Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre at the Byron Carlyle, swirls around the life of its titular hero.
Shane R. Tanner, Randy Charleville, Larry Buzzeo and Niki Fridh impressively play multiple men and women who move in and out of Jeffrey’s world, offering everything from come-ons to comfort.
Played by a less skilled actor, Jeffrey could quickly grow tiresome. Cartland gives him dimension and depth, helping the audience see the world through Jeffrey’s eyes. The actor rides Rudnick’s comic wave, but the richness he brings to the part is most powerfully on display at the end of the first act.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
It’s weird but wonderful that two full decades after the height of the AIDS crisis that Paul Rudnick’s touching but hilarious satire Jeffrey now revived at Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre feels a bit like a period piece.
The reason Jeffrey still works, Rudnick’s uninhibited wicked wit aside, is that the underlying themes are universal and timeless: the overriding importance of pursuing and savoring love despite the risk of loss, something that director Dan Kelley and his cast embrace fearlessly.
Kelley smoothly negotiates the transformation from the hilarious to the heartfelt by adjusting the amount of those two yin-and-yang elements in the mix. Both are always present.
Crucial to the production’s success is Cartland’s central performance. He exudes such an affable Tom Hanks kind of vibe that we can nearly forgive Jeffrey’s brusquely stiff-arming Steve’s open-hearted advances. Cartland has a wonderful stiletto twist with a dry line of humor, but it’s his quiet but intense anxiety that gives the play its emotional heart.
Rosenstrauch is also solid as the impossibly patient Steve, as is the entire cast playing multiple parts.
But the pleasure is watching Kelley as Sterling... it’s notable that while Kelley is terribly funny here, he never relies on vaudevillian shtick or over-the-top camping. His Sterling is real and relatable, and undeniably poignant in his sadness at the end of the play.
Stage Door Theatre Company presents Jeffrey at the Byron Carlyle Theater in Miami Beach through May 5, 2013.