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Good Boys and True

April 23 - June 1, 2008
Second Stage Theatre, New York

Lee Tergesen played Coach Russell Shea in an Off-Broadway production of "Good Boys and True" that began previews on April 23, 2008. Its official opening was on May 19, 2008, and it continued through June 1, 2008.

The play, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, is set in 1989 at an all-boys Catholic prep school. For decades, the school has taken privileged young men and shaped them into "good boys and true."

In the late 1980s, a scandal rocks the school and forces a mother (J. Smith-Cameron) to confront the truth about her football-star son (Brian J. Smith) and herself. The situation causes each to judge the difference between teenage irresponsibility and what might be a deeper, more unsettling lapse of character.

Other cast members include Kellie Overbey, Betty Gilpin and Christopher Abbott. The play was directed by Scott Ellis.

The play was a brisk hour-and-a-half long, and Lee had scenes spread fairly evenly throughout.

Lee first appears fairly early on. His character, Coach Shea, discovers a videotape of a sexual encounter between a teen boy and girl. The boy's face is obscured, but the coach thinks he knows who it is and calls his mother. He tells the mother privately because he is good friends with Brandon's father and wants to help the family avoid a scandal.

The mother can't really tell whether it's Brandon on the tape, and Brandon himself denies it. Soon, thought, the tape is leaked all over the school. Coach Shea gets in some trouble for withholding the tape from the headmaster and the team is punished until someone comes forward with the truth. Meanwhile, the girl on the tape is located (she works at the food court in the local mall) and reveals that it is indeed Brandon on the tape.

Brandonís Mom thinks that her son's actions are partially caused by the atmosphere at the school, which has a reputation for sexual exploitation. Indeed, Coach Shea tells her a story about two boys who competed years ago to be captain of the football team. The coach at the time encouraged the competition. One boy won and to prove he was dominant, he beat up the other boy and raped him. Brandon's father was the victor; Shea was the one who was abused.

Brandon eventually confesses to his mother, but fails to explain the reason behind making the tape: To make the rest of the team believe he's not gay. The tape had been planted in the locker of the guy who stumbled on Brandon and his friend Justin, while they were engaged in a sex act.

The play ends abruptly, but the actors were good and the staging was creative and seamless. The storyline was thought-provoking, with its themes of class privilege and sexuality.

"Good Boys and True" had its world premiere in December 2007 with Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Related Links

Fan gathering
on May 31, 2008

Playbill news
of Lee's casting

Second Stage Theatre

New York Times
Review includes a good photo gallery

Third Row, Mezzanine
Blog has a good recap/review of the preview performance
on April 27