Secrets of the Trade

In his sharp, funny comedy drama, Jonathan Tolins (Twilight of the Golds) explores the ambiguities of the mentor-pupil relationship. Gay teenager Andy Lipman (Edward Tournier) longs for a career in the theater and idolizes Martin Kerner (John Glover), a legendary, Tony-winning writer-director. Encouraged by his architect father (Mark L. Taylor), Andy writes a hero-worshiping letter to Kerner, who, charmed by its boyish naiveté, becomes Andy’s mentor. Dad is delighted, but Mom (Amy Aquino), a schoolteacher and ex-dancer, feels threatened and jealous because she’s always been Andy’s chief adviser. She also suspects Kerner’s out to seduce her boy. Tolins knows the milieu well, carefully charting the volatile mixture of affection, idealism and sublimated sexuality that marks the relations between Andy and Kerner, and the dilemma of parents trying to accept their son’s homosexuality. Glover offers a flamboyantly flawless star turn, and Tournier ably captures Andy’s innocence and charm. Bill Brochtrup shines as Kerner’s acerbic personal assistant, while Taylor and Aquino find both humor and nuance as the worried parents. Director Matt Shakman finely balances comedy with emotional probing, and makes terrific use of the tiny space, while Craig Siebels provides the clever, flexible set. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: March 15. Continues through April 20, 2008


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