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GUEST ARTICLE: Queer women take us ‘Across the Universe’ with Denver’s late-night, multiverse show

//Gracie Jacobson and Izzy Chern, co-founders of 2¢ Lion Theatre Company. Photo courtesy of Jacobson. 

Editor’s note: This story was written by Kevin Douglas, one of the co-founders of 2 Lion Theatre Company. Ms. Mayhem has no affiliation with the troupe.

Not often do you hear the words “gay,” “multiverse” and “The Beatles” in the same sentence. But that’s just what you’ll get with “Yesterday/Today,” a genre-bending romantic comedy produced by 2¢ Lion Theatre Company.

The theater troupe, co-founded by Izzy Chern, Gracie Jacobson and Kevin Douglas in January 2022, aims to platform theatrical works by LGBTQ+ playwrights. The three co-founders met at the University of Denver’s theater department, where they bonded over a shared love of performance. Beyond that, they connected through their shared queer identities.

“When we founded the company, we knew our identities were important to each of us,” said Chern, who uses they/she pronouns. “With the company, we want to put fellow LGBT artists in the spotlight. It has been an absolute pleasure to create space for this queer story, surrounded by queer artists.”

The group’s first production, “Yesterday/Today,” is an upbeat romantic comedy that features three queer characters. Robert, a lazy trust-fund scriptwriter, teleports to different dimensions where he is caught in shifting love triangles with his boyfriend, Dev Dubey, and his doctor, Jasmine Well. The play riffs on the 2019 movie, “Yesterday,” where a man wakes up from a bike accident to discover he’s in a world where The Beatles never existed.

“Yesterday/Today” is directed by Jacobson, who also serves as the company’s managing director, education director and associate artistic director and uses she/they pronouns. When Douglas approached them with the script, Jacobson knew it was something they could bring to life.

“It is such a lighthearted and fun show to work on,” Jacobson said. “I love telling queer stories without them being about the struggles of queerness—This show is about queer people just existing and being themselves. This kind of storytelling is underrated. People are hungry for these stories.”

Chern wears multiple hats at 2¢ Lion as well. They serve as the company’s technical director and artistic director. For “Yesterday/Today,” Chern did light, costume and set design, all while acting in the show.

//Alek Seballes and Wes Mysinger, actors in “Yesterday/Today.” Photo taken by Douglas.

“Spending rehearsals in such a warm, loving room filled with some of my closest friends has been incredibly inspiring,” Chern said. “The story itself is such a fun one to tell, and I can’t wait to share this project which has brought so much joy into my life. And I hope it brings the same joy to our audiences.”

The play’s inspiration draws heavily from Douglas’ affinity for pop culture, as well as his own experience as a bisexual man.

“There’s a lot of myself in this show,” said Douglas, who uses he/him pronouns. “Movies helped me discover my own identity in a suburban world where I wasn’t exposed to much. Mark Wahlberg was the first man I ever crushed on… specifically his shirtless cameo in Date Night. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.”

Crushes aside, Douglas claimed The Beatles’ music lends itself to the show’s queer themes.

“When I think of The Beatles—specifically their later, more psychedelic music—I think of hippies, free love and stuff like that. They were a big part of the counterculture movement in the ‘60s. They helped normalize what had been taboo. They openly experimented with drugs. They challenged what rock music was ‘supposed’ to be. In my eyes, that counterculture aligns with how the LGBTQ+ community continues to challenge the status quo today.”

“Yesterday/Today” is set to run through Pride Weekend in Denver, with late-night presentations June 23-26. The show will premiere as part of the Denver Fringe Festival. The festival, in its third year of operation, will showcase 40 new theatrical works across 10 venues in the RiNo and Five Points neighborhoods. With a 9:20 p.m. showtime its first three nights, 2¢ Lion hopes to engage young people looking for nightlife during Pride.

“The play is filled with music, off-the-wall humor, and references to… ‘the devil’s lettuce,’ if you will,” Douglas said. “The show stands on its own, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to hit the bar or the dispensary beforehand. This isn’t a black and white affair. You can be a little rowdy, get a little drunk. What other theater in Denver is doing that?”

If you’re looking to celebrate Pride Weekend with more Fringe Festival performances, there are other LGBTQ+-themed shows you can check out, including “#CHAMPION,” an extravaganza of queer, disabled survival and “Un/Packing,” a choose-your-own-adventure solo performance that will take you across space, time and gender.

Pride bills itself as an event to is about coming as you are, unapologetic for living outside the mainstream, heteronormative, “appropriate” ways of life. Many people still think of theater-going as a highbrow pastime. Tickets are pricey. There is an expectation of etiquette and formality. 2¢ Lion wants to fight back against those norms. 

Just as you come to Pride unapologetic for who you are, they want you to come to “Yesterday/Today”: young, carefree, and ready to party. And it doesn’t hurt that tickets are only $15.

 

 

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