Much as Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain” turned the American cowboy myth inside out, Harmony, Kansas, proffers a revisionist take on the American farmer in all his amber waves of traditional values. Skillfully directed by James Vasquez and distinguished by a male-chorale score that can send chills through the Diversionary Theatre, Harmony, Kansas is that rare message-musical that is neither overbearing nor sanctimonious.
Bill Nelson and Anna K. Jacobs’ new musical follows lovers Heath (Jacob Caltrider) and Julian (Tom Zohar) and the friends with whom they gather weekly just to sing. When an opportunity comes to take their all-male chorus public, Heath fears the “outing” will jeopardize the farm he and Julian have invested their lives in. How all seven of the gay men stand up for their sexuality and for their friendship unfolds in 18 songs, from the lush “Kansas Land” and the resolute “I Will Sing” to a few larks like “I Bring the Snacks” and “Homo Kid from Kansas Blues,” plus a sight-gag number with a mechanical bull. The tremendous appeal of Harmony, Kansas, however, is in the harmony of the cast as a whole and Zohar, Bill Nolte (as Fuzz) and Anthony Methvin (as Kent) in particular.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat