October 26, 2014 Congratulations to director Robert McWhir, producer Peter Bull and the talented cast and crew of the European premiere of The Bus at ‘Above the Stag Theatre’ in London UK! Special thanks to Shepherd Lantz who helped me revise the script prior to its being produced in London.
“This is a fascinating play, full of surprises, that here gets an excellent production for its British première.” British Theatre Guide
(**** Four Stars) “The cast of The Bus gave a moving performance and deftly portrayed the bonds between the characters. … Lantz has created characters that are realistic and all too human, not caricatures and stereotypes.“ PlaysToSee
“It’s not often that an evening out can leave you feeling uplifted and motivated. But when I left Arch 17 in Vauxhall last night, that’s exactly how I felt.” SceneOne
“James Lantz has a first rate story to tell and surprises to spring in what is an exceedingly well written play … red herrings are laid, and the plot does not go where one expects. The playing is universally good.” Reviews Gate
“Lantz’s richly textured script and fragmented structure capture the spirit of the parochial South, dominated by its local church but reflecting the greater mindset of corporate America. … Central to the success of this play is the delicate and disarming chemistry between William Ross-Fawcett as Ian and Kane John Scott as Jordan, the teenagers who meet secretly in the abandoned church bus of the title.” The Stage
The buzz on social media:
“I saw the preview performance — haven’t been so moved by a piece of theatre in a long time. I was literally shaking. Brilliant performances by everyone in the cast.” Larry C
“Thought about it often over the next few days. If this is the start of a new line at Above the Stag, then (Artistic Director) Peter Bull is adding a classy new stripe to his successful rainbow flag.” Andrew T
“The Bus at Above the Stag this evening was absolutely phenomenal” @aliceym
The Bus is at ‘Above the Stag’ until November 22. Cast members include: Ian Dring, William E Fawcett, Katharine Jee, Matthew Ian Kelly, Kane John Scott, Alexandra Vincent. Production Manager Andrew Beckett. Designed by David Shields, lighting designed by Elliott Griggs. Produced by Peter Bull, Directed by Robert McWhir. Photos courtesy of Katherine Ives.
ps. Very Harry Potter-ish, ‘Above the Stag Theatre’ is located beneath the train tracks in Vauxhall. One reviewer noted that the rumbling of passing trains actually blended very well with the ambiance of the play. From Google Maps:
September 3, 2014. Above the Stag Theatre in South London, UK announced that it will be producing 'The Bus' for a month-long run from October 22nd to November 22nd 2014. The production will be directed by Rob McWhir. Above The Stag Theatre is the UK's award-winning, 60 seat LGBT theatre in Vauxhall. The vast majority of their productions regularly play to full houses. Find out more about The Bus's UK run here.
May 2, 2013. A nice article from Fresno, California, about THE BUS that includes an interview with director Sara Staley.
“I think audiences will be surprised at how religion and the church is treated in this play. I think the show description makes it seem like a very “us against them” type scenario within the script and it’s not. While religion and the church definitely influences the characters’ decision making, how the story progresses, and relationships with one another within this town, the actual Golden Rule church depicted in the script has a very back seat (sorry, pun intended) role in the script in terms of the actual relationship between the two boys. I think “The Bus” does comment on how religious beliefs can influence our relationships with one another, how we live our lives, and how we look at the world. It also does challenge the validity of the black and white “right vs. wrong” teachings that religion often offers its followers.”
You can read the whole the whole thing here.
April 21, 2013. The Bus played at New Conservatory Theater Center in San Francisco where it was added to its 2012/2013 Pride season. It was directed by Sara Staley. Attached are a couple of shots from this production where it also traveled as part of NCTC’s ‘Pride on Tour’ to Modesto, Fresno and Grass Valley, California. An audience member posted on Facebook, “I saw this play today at Unitarian Univeralist Church of Fresno and I loved it. It was an amazing production. Great job to Sarah Staley and cast!”
August 4, 2012 The Bus was recently picked up by Cape Town, South Africa, theater director Wayne Hendricks where his production of the play just finished a successful two week run at Milnerton Playhouse. In a review in the Cape Times, Cape Town S.A., Sheila Chisholm headlined her review: “Dramatic Tale of Gay Love and Religious Conflict Well Worth Getting a Ticket for “The Bus.” You can check out an article in SevenDays here. Pictured above are actors Timothy Mayers and Darin Graham. Other cast members: Johann van der Merwe, Robyn Bensch, Coleen Tapson, Barry Altwig and director Wayne Hendricks.
We’re also proud to announce that New Conservatory Theater Center in San Francisco has picked up the play and added it to its 2012/2013 season where it will play for one month. When we performed the play at 59E59 Theaters New York City, NCTC Artistic Director Ed Decker traveled from San Francisco to see a performance; he then secured the West Coast premiere rights to perform THE BUS at NCTC. We’re doubly excited about our play being in San Francisco because Ed has also decided that following its run at NCTC, he’s going to tour the play to rural areas of Northern California.
December 14, 2011 “During our mini-tour, we were moved to tears by the hospitality and generosity of the good people of the Sunflower State. Many on our team said it was the most humbling and moving experience of their professional lives. Our goal was to perform as near the Westboro Baptist Church as we could, and indeed, we did — we were within sight of the Kansas State Capitol building and just over a mile from the notorious church headed by Pastor Fred Phelps and his family. In our audience was a mother whose son died of AIDS, parents who came to understand, students who drove up to three hours to see our show, gay couples and straight folk, believers and atheists, people on the front lines fighting for LGBT rights in Kansas — and even a couple of Kickstarter supporters.” Read the whole post here.
December 7, 2011 “The New York cast, crew and playwright of the off-Broadway show “The Bus” will stage a single show tonight at Wichita State University as a counter-protest to Westboro Baptist Church’s anti-gay picketing. Wichita is one of two Kansas destinations for the show; the other is Topeka. “When we started this project, we decided to be proactive and take it to a place that resonated, where hate groups are actively pursuing high schools,” said playwright James Lantz.” Read the whole article here.
December 6, 2011, Nate Phelps, an estranged son of Westboro Baptist Church pastor Fred W. Phelps Sr., will return this weekend to his hometown to support the presentation of a play about two gay teens, a large church and small-town homophobia. “The Bus,” which played off-Broadway in New York City this fall, will be staged at 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday in downtown Topeka at the Blue Planet Cafe, 110 S.E. 8th. It then will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday at Metropolitan Community Church, 4425 S.W. 19th. Read the whole article here.
October 10, 2011 “A big city play about gay teens that hopes to open the minds of small town audiences. If any play can do it, this is the one. … Thankfully, The Bus is theater magic. It’s beautiful in every way good theater should be. This is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long long time. Go see it while you can, before it has it’s real run in Topeka.” Review, Theatre Is Easy by reviewer Weston Clay.
October 10, 2011 “Driven by Our Town-y narration, James Lantz’s intimate and touching drama stars Bryan Fitzgerald and Will Roland as teens who swap spit in an old bus parked in the middle of an explosive conflict between a megachurch and a gas station. … An admirable critique of faith-fueled small-town homophobia, The Bus next travels to Topeka, Kan., in hopes of imparting its message to Westboro Baptist Church.” Brandon Voss, The Advocate
October 10, 2011 “There aren’t a lot of places gay teenagers Jordan (Bryan Fitzgerald) and Ian (Will Roland) can go in their small middle-American town without being discovered. And the one refuge that they have found becomes a battleground in James Lantz’s quietly affecting play, The Bus. … Fitzgerald delivers a terrific performance, with subtle shadings of emotion that flash across his face at key moments.” Dan Bacalzo, TheaterMania
October 10, 2011 “By the end of this production, some in the audience were teary-eyed and most were touched because this little play is not really so little at all, dealing as it does with weighty subjects: a struggle of teenage boys trapped between the most influential church in town, their own passions, and a struggling gas station. … Simplicity does not mean simple. The small-town simplicity of The Bus packs a wallop that is worth your time, whatever your beliefs.” Elizabeth Ahlfors, ‘Curtain Up’
October 10, 2011 The leading actors deliver moving performances … there are touching moments of dialogue. “Why can’t we hang out like regular kids?” Jordan prods. “We are regular!” Ian exclaims. Lantz has also written entertaining lines. “I don’t even like musicals,” Ian says to prove he doesn’t fit the gay stereotype.
October 10, 2011 Fitzgerald is deeply moving as Jordan, a young man coming to terms with his sexuality, and Roland succeeds in portraying the more awkward boy, torn between his parents’ conflicting interests. … Following its New York premiere, The Bus will travel to Topeka, Kansas, for a symbolic performance near the extremist Westboro Baptist Church, which has gained national notoriety over the years for its homophobic beliefs and anti-gay protests. That ambitious project alone is more than sufficient reason to support this play
October 10, 2011 The Bus has the flavor of Our Town with a little Alfred Hitchcock tossed in. … We are not asked to take sides, and because this is a tale told with great care, we find it difficult to do so – even though we would like to. This is a more than worthy night at the theatre. Come see it before it goes on the road, straight to the heartland.