David Lee steps up as Manager in Charge of Show Procurement at the Footlight Theater

By : Chris Muscardin
Comments: 0

Orlando – Hold on to your pumps, because Hedwig and her angry inch may be returning to the Parliament House.

As mentioned in the last issue, local theatre acting and directing icon David Lee (arguably most famous for his 2002 ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ production) has recently accepted the position of Manager in charge of Show Procurement for the Parliament House’s Footlight Theatre. Effective as of the Fringe Festival, Lee will be taking over for Drew Sizemore, who previously held the position.

“I’m officially only doing it for the summer,” Lee protests, modestly unsure of how long his tenure will be in the position. “We’re just testing the waters.”

The rest of the community seems to have more faith though, as he says that in the short time since the end of the Fringe he’s already had bookings through January.

An Orlando native and bigwig of the Central Florida theatre scene since its inception, Lee most certainly has the clout to stand up to the task. Having worked aside local legends such as the late Paul Wegman (Ms. P) and Michael Wanzie from an early age, he’s no stranger to both Orlando’s rich theatre and queer tradition.

“I was doing plays [in Orlando] when I was eighteen – barely eighteen, actually – with Ms. P, Paul Wegman,” he reminisces. “I was in the first [Orlando] Fringe. In the first Gay Pride Parade in Orlando with Paul too.”

In 1993 Lee took his talents out into the wider world, moving up north to pursue a Master of Fine Art in Directing from Yale University. It’s up there that he put down roots, forming Ant Farm Productions in New York City in 1997 and acting in and directing a number of productions.

It was not until a dream role appeared that Lee set his sights back south, returning to Orlando in 2002 to perform in a stage production of the cult classic rock opera ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch,’ starring as the eponymous rock diva.

“[It was] the show that would not die!” he laughs, hinting at Hedwig’s possible return to the Footlight stage during his reign at the theatre. “We will bring it back again, when the rights are available.”

After ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ Lee resumed life in his hometown to a degree, bouncing back and forth between Orlando and New York for a number of years. Although still on the stage plenty, much of that time was spent using the degree that he’d worked for at Yale, as he put on a number of original productions such as ‘Nirvanov,’ a musical mashup of unlikely bedfellows Anton Chekhov’s Ivanov and grunge band Nirvana, and ‘The Three Pussy Riot Sisters,’ tying together – you guessed it – legal transcripts from the 2012 Pussy Riot trial in Russia and Chekhov’s The Three Sisters.

“I’ve done a couple adaptations of Chekhov,” Lee says on his affinity for the Russian author. “I fell in love with that writer [Chekhov] in grad school.”

Now officially back in Orlando, he thinks he may like to stay.

“I’m sick of winters,” he laughs. “I’ve decided I’m sick of the weather in New York, and so for now I’m staying here and figuring out what I want to do next.”

Perhaps his new position at the Footlight Theatre will last longer than he would like to admit.

For the moment, Lee is pulling on all his storied history to fill the Footlight Theatre with as many diverse acts as possible.

“We’re starting now by bringing back some of the Fringe hits,” Lee says. “We started last week during Gay Days with ‘Bubble Gum Party.’ This week Logan Donahoo is bringing his Field Guide to the Gays, and he’s actually merged ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ and there’s all new material.”

Weeks to come after include John Ryan’s ‘1969:Stonewall’ and Lee’s own one-man Fringe hit ‘Sex Drugs Rock & Roll.’ Lee says that he wants to expand the Footlight Theatre’s repertoire outside of its usual realm of weekly drag shows and farcical comedy – although there will be plenty of that as well.

“Susan [Unger] has typically in the past wanted things very funny – she wants her patrons to come out with a smile on their face,” he explains. “[But] she and her husband Don [Granatstein] have offered me the option to try riskier material if I want.

“Back in the day, when Paul Wegman was producing theatre in that space, there were a lot of intense things going on. We did the play ‘Bent’ [a Holocaust drama set in a concentration camp] there. So I’m going to try to mix it up a bit, and also use some of the great local talent that I know is here, hopefully make it a venue for some of their work.”

Logan Donahoo’s Field Guide to the Gays, the next in the series of shows Lee has lined up, continues June 20, 27, and 29. As always, admission does grant access to the rest of the Parliament House after.

Share this story: