The Boys of Burlesque: Nathan Lane, Jack O'Brien and Douglas Carter Beane Dish on The Nance

By Adam Hetrick
13 Apr 2013

Nathan Lane in The Nance.
photo by Joan Marcus

These cultural fault lines fascinate Beane, who says that while he is encouraged by the progress the LGBT community has made socially and politically, he believes it is still haunted by painful and closeted past. "I wanted to remind people about where we come from and who we are. There is still this element of self-loathing to us, and editing who we are—'Shush, don't say that and don't be that way'—more than any other community that I've seen."

Penned with Lane in mind, The Nance draws on the many talents of the gifted actor who made a name for himself in Broadway comedies, earning Tony Awards for The Producers and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum—but has proven, in recent years, equally adept in the deeper dramatic waters of Eugene O'Neill and Samuel Beckett.

While Beane gilds the proceedings with bawdy burlesque sketches, pastiche musical numbers by Glen Kelly, and even throws in a handful of strippers playing the ukulele, "the heart of the show is this love story," Lane says.

The limelight casts shadows across Chauncey's personal life—a relationship with a younger, more progressive gay man. "It's a gay man of one generation and a gay man of the next generation. Everyone else is kind of moving on, and moving forward, and he's not," Lane reflects.

"His tragedy is something I think that everyone can relate to—he can't accept this kid's unconditional love and he rejects it. I think he's a victim of the times and of his own self-loathing."

All the while, Lane admits to being dazed by the amount of dramatic plates he and the creative team keep spinning with The Nance. "At times it sounds like a gay Coen Brothers movie," he laughs. "It's pretty extraordinary."