‘Mother Play’ starring Jessica Lange and Jim Parsons is the hottest, queerest new show on Broadway

Jim Parsons, Jessica Lange, and Celia Keenan-Bolger at the premiere of Mother Play

Jim Parsons and Jessica Lange on stage at the same time? In a show called Mother Play on Broadway? We are quaking in our boots!

Opening on April 3, Big Bang Theory star Parsons will be appearing alongside American Horror Story alum Lange on Broadway as well as Celia Keenan-Bolger, a Tony-award winning stage actress, in Mother Play by Paula Vogel.

Tickets for the production are available to buy from ticketmaster.com.

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The casting seems spot-on. 51-year-old Parsons is gay, while Lange, although not a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, is a queer icon, while Celia Keenan-Bolger’s sister Maggie is queer.

Queer themes are common, and even central, to many of Vogel’s plays – and the presence of a play like this during a time when there is increasing backlash towards LGBTQ+ people across the U.S and the world, is radical indeed.

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Keenan-Bolger told Out Magazine: “It’s very moving to me to get to be a part of it. And it’s very moving to me that the theater is a place that can both represent and hold a mirror up to the culture.”

What is Mother Play about?

Mother Play, also called Mother Play: A Play in Five Evictions, was written by playwright Paula Vogel, and is set in 1962.

It follows mother and matriarch Phyllis (Lange) who is set in her ideas about how her children, Carl (Parsons) and Martha (Keenan-Bolger), should live their lives.

Phyllis, who is a chaotic alcoholic with a temper, attempts to dictate what her children do as they move into a new apartment in Washington D.C.

Playbill writes that it is a “bitingly funny and unflinchingly honest new play about the hold our family has over us and the surprises we find when we unpack the past”.

Lange, who is 74, told Out Magazine that this role was “everything” that she had been looking for.

She said: “What I love about the way we’ve worked so far in the workshop, and also working with Paula right there in the room, is that we’ve been given free license and time to really discover and investigate all of these [shifting family dynamic] moments. I’ve never worked with a living playwright…. It’s been such a gift.”

Jessica Lange in new Ryan Murphy musical comedy The Politician
Jessica Lange in Ryan Murphy musical comedy The Politician (Courtesy of NETFLIX)

As both siblings in the play are queer, their allegiance to one another is strong – particularly in the face of their overbearing mother.

Lange said: “As the mother I use Jim [Carl] against Celia [Martha] or vice versa, so nothing is ever absolutely natural or comfortable within the family. There’s always some dynamic that is undermining what should be a loving, warm, accepting kind of familial group.”

Is Paula Vogel a lesbian?

Vogel is a lesbian, and is married to Anne Fausto-Sterling, a college professor who teaches biology and gender studies at Brown University.

Vogel was also a professor at Brown from 1984 to 2008, which is where she met Fausto-Sterling. They married in 2004.

Martha, who is a lesbian, and Carl are loosely based on Vogel herself and her brother Carl Vogel, who died of complications from AIDS in 1988 and takes place in Maryland, which is Vogel’s home state.

Many of Vogel’s plays have queer themes in them, including The Baltimore Waltz, which was written for her brother Carl.

The Carl of the play eventually contracts HIV as the play moves through the decades of the characters’ lives, just like Vogel’s brother, and for Parsons to play a role in that story affected him “deeply”.

Vogel has also been vocal about LGBTQ+ rights and keen on “making sure there are opportunities for young people to take the roads not currently culturally traveled. It’s a thrilling time in terms of that”.

Keenan-Bolger told Out Magazine that it is “historic” to “have a play written by a queer woman, directed by a queer woman, premiering on Broadway”.

How to buy tickets for Mother Play on Broadway

Performances of Mother Play will begin at the Helen Hayes Theatre in New York City from April 3 until June 16.

Tickets are available from Ticketmaster and range from $109 to $269 (£86 to £213).