After being shuttered for sixteen months due to the global pandemic, Theatre 40 is re-opening for live performances. It is resuming the interrupted engagement of Taming the Lion.
Taming the Lion is suggested by true events.
William Haines acted in 50 films between 1922 and 1934 and was the number one box-office draw at the end of the silent era. He was also the first openly gay movie star, a fact that the MGM studio attempted to conceal, fearing that Haines’ gayness would prove to be box-office poison.
Studio executives Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg attempt to force Haines to marry a woman, to please the fans. But Haines is devoted to his male lover, Jimmie Shields. Mayer sends Haines’ best female friend, Joan Crawford, to try and persuade Haines to marry a woman.
Mayer gives Haines an ultimatum: marry a woman and continue to be a movie idol, or turn his back on his movie career and lose everything so that he can stay with Jimmie.
What will Haines do?
Jack Rushen is the playwright. He is the two -time recipient of the Julie Harris Playwriting Award from the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild. His full-length plays include Image, Petey, and Means to an End. He is also the author of 30 short plays. He is also an actor.
Melanie MacQueen directs. Her directing credits at Theatre 40 include Engaging Shaw, The Drawer Boy, Months on End, On Borrowed Time, Separate Beds and Roses in December. Her directing career spans several decades, and includes the award-wining musical that she also wrote and produced, In the Name of God, or Honk If You Love Satire, which moved from the Valley to Off-Broadway. Also an actor, Theatre 40 audiences might know her best from her appearances in the perennial cast of The Manor.
Her cast for Taming the Lion includes, in alphabetical order, Landon Beatty, Marie Broderick, Kevin Dulude, Jean Mackie, Sean Rose and Jeffrey Winner.