REVIEW: ‘TAKE ME OUT’ RETURNS TO BROADWAY

Take Me OutYou’ve only got a little over a week left to experience Broadway’s latest grand slam.

Take Me Out, now playing at the intimate Helen Hayes Theatre, is the groundbreaking story of MLB superstar Darren Lemming and the domino effect that occurs both professionally and personally after he comes out of the closet. That this revival is just as topical as it was when the play first premiered two decades ago makes it that much more eye-opening and poignant.

The star-studded—and studly—cast includes Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Patrick J. Adams (Suits), and Michael Oberholtzer (Hand to God). Rounding out the all-male cast are Julian Cihi, Hiram Delgado, Brandon J. Dirden, Carl Lundstedt, Ken Marks, Eduardo Ramos, and Tyler Lansing Weaks.

Written by Richard Greenberg, the original Pulitzer Prize-nominated 2003 production took home top honors at the Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, Drama League Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, and the New York Critics’ Circle Awards. Directed by Scott Ellis, this revival of Take Me Out is once again poised for awards glory: it already has garnered four Tony Award nominations, a Drama Desk Award nomination, and three Drama League Award nominations. This new production has already won awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play and Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (for Ferguson) at this year’s Outer Critics Circle Awards. Adams was also selected as an honoree at the Theatre World Awards.

Williams’ Broadway debut in the starring role of Lemming marks the arrival of a bona fide stage talent. He offers an evocative and layered portrayal of his character as he navigates being a gay person of color in the confines of a predominantly white and heterosexual American industry. When both friends and teammates start to turn on Lemming, previously unspoken prejudices start spilling out from every direction. Tensions rise, relationships are tested, and the notion of masculinity at the core of the turmoil is exposed as both intensely hostile and startlingly fragile.

Take Me Out

“Richard [Greenberg] is very specific in his language. Every syllable is there for a reason,” Williams told Broadway.com. “He doesn’t do anything differently; it’s everybody else’s projection onto him as to what they think that means or what I think that you think that that means—that speaks to the fragility in what we consider heteronormative masculinity and the performative quality of it. A lot of the straight players on the team feel like they’ve lost by me coming out. My presence now has made it difficult for [the other players] to be playful anymore because they have to overcompensate to prove that they’re not me for some silly reason that is deeply entrenched in American masculinity.”

Playing Lemming’s best work friend, Adams also delivers a master class in acting. As Kippy, he is the show’s narrator whose bleeding heart leads to misguided decisions and stunning revelations. Desperate to repair the fractured relationships on his baseball team, Kippy takes massive swings hoping they’ll pay off by bringing the team together. Yet by the time the dramatic second act exposes every player’s true colors, Kippy’s efforts look like nothing more than a strike-out. Adams brilliantly depicts Kippy’s journey and heartbreak, making his performance a true standout in a show that’s already stacked with them.

Take Me Out

As Lemming’s charismatic accountant, Mason, Ferguson serves as the comic relief character. Full of nervous energy, zingy puns, and self-deprecating humor, Mason evolves into a baseball fan in tandem with Lemming falling out of love with the sport. While he is one of only three of the characters who do not appear fully nude in the production, he still does a tremendous job of baring it all emotionally.

Following an extension due to critical acclaim and fan demand, Take Me Out will be closing on June 11 (the day before the Tony Awards). Don’t miss the final inning of this thought-provoking, important, beautifully acted, and powerful play!

PHOTOS | JOAN MARCUS 2022 + CATHERINE WESSEL 2019


Click here to purchase tickets to Second Stage Theater’s breathtaking production of Take Me Out.


About ALEX KELLEHER-NAGORSKI 167 Articles
Alex has been writing for PopBytes since 2011. As the Theater Editor, he focuses on all aspects of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theater, and beyond. Alex lives in Western Massachusetts and can be found on Twitter at @AlexKNagorski.