Triple play: Lesbian, gay, and straight couples sing ‘Marry Me a Little’

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Boys will like boys: Actors Paul Williams, left, and Adrian Rifat will play the characters Him and Her in the musical “Marry Me a Little.”
Straight ahead: Jesse Manocherian, left, and Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld also play Him and Her, characters who live side-by-side in an apartment building.
Girls’ night out: Laura Cetti, left, and Cassandra Dupler play Him and Her in “Marry Me a Little.” The Gallery Players production of the show includes different couples in order to show the universality of romance.

Love is love is love!

Park Slope’s Gallery Players will put a same-sex twist on Stephen Sondheim’s lovelorn musical “Marry Me A Little,” when its new production opens Jan. 26. The group will present the show with three alternating casts in the central role, portraying an opposite-sex couple, a gay male couple, and a lesbian couple. The show’s director says that she jumped at the chance to disrupt standard theater tropes and to show that love is universal feeling.

“As much as I love theater, a lot of it has relied on the heteronormative boy meets girl and they fall in love and live happily ever after,” said Barrie Gelles. “Rarely do you come across a story that could be any one single couple — it doesn’t have to be boy and girl. I couldn’t waste the opportunity to turn that norm around and show how people can find love in all genders.”

“Marry Me a Little” follows two New Yorkers — named only Him and Her — who live in adjacent apartments, each pouring out their hearts through song, and unaware that their soulmate is just a few steps away. Those parts will be played by two men, two women, and a man and woman on different nights of the run, but the company has not changed any of the lyrics, keeping all of the pronouns the same.

The male actor playing Her said that he had no problems stepping into a traditionally female role — and as an openly gay men, he felt right at home with Her songs.

“I didn’t really change anything, and we haven’t changed anything as far as pronouns go because it doesn’t really need to be changed,” said Adrian Rifat. “In [fairy tales] we hear all those stories of the prince and the princess, and even as a gay little boy hearing that, I would aspire to find a prince, but I knew I had to be prince myself. So it wasn’t really difficult to assimilate or justify the pronouns.”

Each set of actors brings their own nuance to the roles, said Gelles, and she hopes that audiences will come back in order to appreciate the different takes.

“The actors of are all different people telling the same story — people will see every single actor portray their characters in different ways,” said Gelles. “Each duo kind of adds their own feel to it, bringing their own personality and way of seeing things.”

Return visitors will also appreciate the difference in the tunes, simply because male and female voices sound different, Gelles said.

“The differences are in the pairing, not the music — we have not changed note or a lyric, but hearing male voices or hearing females sing — each is very unique,” she said. “It’s very noticeable, but very worthwhile to see more than once because each song has a different feel to it. It’s glorious in any presentation and very exciting to hear the combination of the voices.”

“Marry Me a Little” at the Gallery Players [199 14th St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (914) 414≠–5236,, ] Jan. 26–Feb. 13, Thu–Sat at 8 pm. $25 ($20 seniors). Opposite-sex cast Jan. 26, Feb. 4, 10, and 17. Male cast Jan. 27; Feb. 2, 11, and 16. Female cast Jan. 28; Feb. 3, 9, and 18.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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