Dear Harvey is not a history lesson about Harvey Milk, who in 1977 became the first openly-gay man to be elected to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, and, just eleven months later, was assassinated (along with Mayor George Moscone) by former city supervisor Dan White. It is not a traditional drama either, a genre successfully filled by the celebrated 2008 film Milk. Instead, this theatrical event, playing at the SoHo Playhouse, is something entirely new: a riveting, emotional exploration of the life and lasting impact of Milk through music, photographs, Milk's own words, and reflections from those who knew him.
Based on over 30 interviews conducted by playwright Patricia Loughrey, Dear Harvey features an ensemble of seven portraying various people whose lives Milk touched. Stuart Milk (Mark Peters), Milk's openly gay nephew, explains how his uncle taught him to be proud of being different; LGBT activist Cleve Jones (Scott Striegel), who had interned for Milk, explains how the inspiration he took from Milk later led him to create the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Music written and performed by Thomas Hodges serves as a critical component of the play by highlighting the emotions of each story as photographs and newspaper clippings are illuminated on a screen behind the actors.
Directed by Dan Kirsch, the play offers many perspectives on Milk's lasting influences to enable audiences both familiar and unfamiliar with his life to connect with and learn something new about his story. The play also demonstrates that Milk inspired countless individuals to make great strides in the fight for LGBT civil rights, and shows that his words, passion, and achievements can inspire those fighting prejudice today.
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