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03/01/2011

'Facing' facts: Broadway's Swenson readies gay Mormon film

by Jeremy Hooper

I really enjoyed the quiet-but-loud play Facing East when I saw it off-Broadway a few years back. So I was thrilled to read this blurb from New York magazine, wherein straight ally Will Swenson (formerly of Broadway's Hair, currently in Priscilla) shares plans to direct a movie version:

[Will] Swenson, 37, was raised in the Mormon church, and though his parents owned a theater in Salt Lake City, acting there meant “lots of Beauty and the Beast, Forever Plaid, and SwensonYou Can’t Take It With You. Family-friendly, really clean theater,” he says. As “a good Mormon boy,” he went on a mission to Ecuador when he was 19, and married soon after he returned (the couple, who later divorced, share custody of their two sons, Sawyer, 7, and Bridger, 9). “But I had doubts about the Church all along,” says Swenson, who left the religion ten years ago. “I had so much family and peer pressure to stay, to believe it all. I knew I was letting everybody down.”

Swenson says the process was traumatic and not unlike coming out of the closet. “I had a lot of gay friends growing up, who were told by the Church that they were unnatural and immoral, so I had a first-row seat to what [they] were going through.” That experience has inspired Swenson to direct a film adaptation of the play
Facing East, about a Mormon couple whose gay son commits suicide. “It’s certainly not an attack on the Mormon church,” he says. “It’s just, Let’s get this right, folks.”
Butch Femme [NY Mag]

Let's get it right, indeed: Both the film and the societal adaptation.

***

*SEE ALSO: Swenson in his Hair-y days:

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