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THEATER BEAT : ‘Blindness’: Tennessee Travails

When Leslie Jordan pops out from behind the chorus of “Hysterical Blindness,” at the Hudson Backstage, he takes command of his predominantly one-man show about the pitfalls of growing up in East Tennessee, talented, gay and knowing you really belong somewhere else.

We say “predominantly” because Jordan has surrounded himself with a bright, vivacious company that helps create the world he finally escaped in order to conquer wild and woolly Hollywood. They have roles--Newell Alexander is particularly effective as Jordan’s dad Buck, Noreen Reardon and Ann Walker as his sisters, known only as “The Twins"--but the game is all Jordan’s, and his small stature is soon forgotten in his headlong rush to give us the lowdown on what makes him tick. The ticking is enchanting.

That the Chattanooga stereotypes he recalls are just that, works so well because not one is outlandish or too broadly drawn to be removed from honesty. Jordan’s script, developed with director Carolyne Barry, and the original songs by Joe Patrick Ward treat Tennessee with affection in the face of its narrowness, with understanding that a few years away have tempered.

“Hysterical Blindness & Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far” is full of just the right flavor, just the right level of humor and just the right intent to keep it fresh, charming and very cuddly.

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“Hysterical Blindness,” Hudson Backstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. Fridays-Saturdays, 10:30 p.m. $15; (213) 660-8587. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.


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