The Cabaret Company presents My Dinner with Casey Donovan, the newest work by Sky Gilbert (Hackerlove), running at Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace from March 12-22, 2015. What happens when you bring a porn star to dinner? Find out as a young gay man in the early 1970s, who’s afraid to come out to his parents, thrusts himself into a situation where he’s forced to face his closeted lifestyle in front of his family.

The production is based on the true events Gilbert discovered while doing research on his upcoming novel. In “Boy in the Sand,” Gilbert discovered a real life story about a fan of porn star Casey Donovan, named Calvin, and the dinner they shared at his parents’ home. Through some insane stroke of luck, gay porn star Casey Donovan (Nathaniel Bacon, Hedwig) has accepted closeted Calvin’s invitation to have dinner together. Together with Calvin’s parents that is, since 25 year old Calvin (Michael DeRose) still lives at home. The only catch is Calvin’s parents don’t even know he’s gay.

The dark environs of the Backspace Theatre work perfectly as the setting for this story. It begins with a vintage porn film shown directly on the brick walled backdrop. It’s one of the many features that world renown porn star Casey Donovan starred in. The play then begins with Calvin alone onstage “freaking out” about what “an idiot” he is to have went and asked Casey to dinner. Charismatic Casey then appears decked out in his tight 501’s and unbuttoned jean shirt, and the two chat some more – Calvin in a state of anxiety, and Casey overly laid back. Casey also divulges that his real name is also Calvin, but friends call him Cal, something nerdy Calvin’s friends (or lack thereof) would never call him,

The stage then transitions into the dining room of Calvin’s parents (Rita and Charles Limehouse) place, and the hilarious antics begin. Ellen-Ray plays the role of his overbearing Lutheran mother with the greatest of comedic ease, and his reserved father (Ralph Small) also handles his more limited stage time with superb acting. As often stated, mother’s know all too well when “something isn’t right” with their children, so she immediately sees Casey’s dinner visit for what it actually is – a “friend” for Calvin. When father and son disappear to the cellar to look for a bottle of 1948 vintage wine, mother takes the opportunity to thoroughly quiz Casey.

The setting then abruptly changes again, without an appearance of the wine, and suddenly it’s Casey and Calvin outside ready to part ways. They agree to remain “friends”, but not in the gay way, just platonic. Before departing Casey offers Calvin a blowjob, which he eagerly accepts. When Casey says he’s heading back to New York for a party, Calvin casually mentions he can’t wait to tell his co-worker he slept with the world’s greatest porn star, at which point Casey takes a violent turn away from his soft spoken demeanor, and demands Casey keep his mouth shut. Then it’s over.

The audience explores a tale of sexual liberation, parental love and independence from our parents that may not be new bit is still very relevant.  “I was inspired to tell this story because we often forget the lessons learned in the sixties,” notes Gilbert. “The story of Casey Donovan harkens back to a time where people explored sexual openness and self-realization, concepts we’ve lost touch with today.” All in all it’s a fun and frivolous tale of lust and desire, and the dinner table scene with the parents is by far the show-stealer.

Casey Donovan is played by Nathaniel Bacon, who is a graduate of the joint Theatre and Drama Studies program at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, and is best known for his critically acclaimed starring role in last summer’s Hedwig and The Angry Inch at Lower Ossington Theatre, for which he won the Broadway World Toronto Award for Best Leading Actor (Musical).

His favorite television credits include “The L.A Complex” for the CW network, “Transporter: The Series” for HBO and BBC America’s “Copper”. Some of his stage highlights include the lead in Sky Gilbert’s “St. Francis of Millbrook” at 4th Line Theatre, Wolf in Hart House Theatre’s “Bent” and Sherlock Holmes in Alumnae Theatre’s “Sherlock and Watson: Behind Closed Doors”. He will make his feature film debut in the upcoming sci-fi/horror movie, “Debug” from Copperheart Entertainment.

Nathaniel is thrilled to be a part of this show and humbled by the opportunity to portray such an unsung icon.  Opposite him in the role of Calvin is newcomer Michael De Rose. Calvin’s parents are played by Ralph Small and Gilbert’s long-time collaborator Elley-Ray. With set and costume design by Sheree Tams and lighting by Siobhan Sleath.

My Dinner with Casey Donovan
Running time: 75 minutes, no break
Cast: Michael De Rose, Nathaniel Bacon, Elley-Ray and Ralph Small
Preview: March 11, 2015
Opening: March 12, 2015

Closes: March 20, 2015

Theatre Passe Muraille (Backspace Theatre) 16 Ryerson Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2P3

Box Office: 416 504 7529
Administration: 416 504 8988

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About The Cabaret Company
The Cabaret Company is a Dora nominated theatre company founded by Sky Gilbert in 1997. The Cabaret Company is dedicated to presenting socially engaging queer themed work and to the development and support of queer artists. The various projects from The Cabaret Company are supported by the operating grants from the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council. Previous works have included Dora Award winning productions like The Situationists and A Few Brittle Leaves. 

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.