ON THE ROOF

It’s 1955—post WWII, amid McCarthyism, years before Stonewall. In this dangerous and difficult era, Mitzi operates a cabaret and gay bar where Cruz, a playboy bartender; Levi, an aspiring Broadway composer; Bob, a WWII vet; Mac, a guy who just wants camaraderie with his Coke find solidarity in relative safety.

When Andy, an idealistic newcomer with a law degree, discovers their sanctuary, it...
It’s 1955—post WWII, amid McCarthyism, years before Stonewall. In this dangerous and difficult era, Mitzi operates a cabaret and gay bar where Cruz, a playboy bartender; Levi, an aspiring Broadway composer; Bob, a WWII vet; Mac, a guy who just wants camaraderie with his Coke find solidarity in relative safety.

When Andy, an idealistic newcomer with a law degree, discovers their sanctuary, it opens his eyes not just to other men like him, but to the oppression they're hiding from. Andy challenges them--particularly Bob, with whom he's found a connection--about their complacency, but the men are unable to do more than fantasize about a different future.

With or without them, Andy's sense of justice propels him out the door to a Mattachine meeting. En route, he's set up by a cop who beats and arrests him. When Andy sacrifices himself to shield his friends, they and Mitzi are forced to figure out what matters to them most as they take the brave first steps toward revolution.

(Note: As ON THE ROOF takes place in a cabaret, it is a play with two and a half diagetic songs,but not a musical.)
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ON THE ROOF

Recommended by

  • Ben Moran:
    7 May. 2021
    I love this play. The first time I read it I laughed, cried, got goosebumps and chills and I felt seen and heard, in a really wonderful way. It's a beautiful and uplifting story, a drama that makes you feel fondness for our predecessors and hope for our future. This is the kind of play that should be produced more often in the mainstream, outside of LGBTQ theaters/venues/festivals. It's a treasure of a piece of theater that effortlessly bridges the gap between willful ignorance and unconditional compassion that so many of the oppressed long for in our societies.
  • Scott Sickles:
    4 May. 2020
    History often goes unappreciated, no more than in the LGBTQ subculture. It often seems queer people under a certain age have no understanding or appreciation of what it took to get here. That’s why plays like TORCH SONG, BOYS IN THE BAND, and ON THE ROOF are so damn important right now. Hoke creates a vivid portrayal of what gay men in particular (but not exclusively) went through not too long ago. Deeply personal, beautifully individuated, and astonishingly atmospheric, it’s a portal to an oppressive past by which we can evaluate the present and prepare the future.
  • Chelsea Frandsen:
    24 Feb. 2020
    Donna Hoke has written an amazing and truly authentic piece about a part of our culture and history that tends to get glossed over. The characters are poignant and powerful and some of the dialogue just sizzles. I'd love to see this on it's feet.

Character Information

  • Bob/Robert
    mid-to-late 30s,
    White
    ,
    Male
    BOB is a romantic war vet with a limp; in present day, ROBERT is an engaged doctor.
  • Andy/Andrew
    early-to-mid-twenties,
    White
    ,
    Male
    In 1955, Andy is a privileged innocent trying to come to terms. In present day, ANDREW is Robert’s fiance.
  • Mitzi
    50s,
    Any
    ,
    Female
    Owner of Mitzi’s roof, cabaret singer
  • Levi
    40,
    White
    ,
    Male
    A nebbish who wishes he were a mensch
  • Cruz
    mid-to-late-twenties,
    Latinx
    Bartender, extremely attractive and masculine
  • Mac
    50s,
    Probably White
    ,
    Male
    Stalwart, knowledgeablem and careful
  • Male Swing(s)--can be one or two
    30s,
    latinx or white
    ,
    Male
    MAN #1: Plays customer Harold, drag queen Jai Bobo, George, Joe, Frank

    MAN #2: Plays cop, officer, investigator, mobster, Cruz’s father; must be able to believably speak Spanish
  • Swing Woman
    30s,
    Any
    ,
    Female
    Plays realtor, customer Alice, fortune teller Myra, reporter

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Post-Industrial Productions
    ,
    2019
  • Reading
    ,
    Queens Theatre
    ,
    2018
  • Reading
    ,
    Celebration Theatre
    ,
    2016
  • Reading
    ,
    5th Wall Productions
    ,
    2016
  • Reading
    ,
    Buffalo United Artists
    ,
    2015