The Desert Rose Playhouse, the Coachella Valley’s LGBTQ+ Stage Company, will present Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July as our sixth season’s Gay Heritage Production, opening Friday, January 12, 2018, for a four-week run.  Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2 PM, through February 4, 2018.  Playwright Wilson was one of the pioneers of LGBT Theatre in New York and went on to a Pulitzer-Prize winning career with many Broadway and film credits.  Previous DRP Gay Heritage productions include The Boys in the Band, Love! Valour! Compassion! and Angels in America, Part One.

Fifth of July is set in the 1970s in a sprawling farmhouse in Lebanon, Missouri.  It is the home of “Ken Talley”, a disabled gay Viet Nam veteran, and his botanist lover, Jed.  They are visited by Ken’s sister, June, and her precocious teenage daughter Shirley, and by Gwen and John—the former a hard-living, pill-popping heiress who aspires to be a rock star, the latter her wary-eyed husband and manager. All are old friends from their rebellious UC Berkeley college days in the 1960’s where they were protestors and political activists who worked for what they hoped would be a better world.

The action of this play, one of a trilogy of plays exploring varied facets of the Talley family, centers on Gwen’s offer to buy the Talley farm to convert it to a recording studio.  Also desiring the property is “Ken’s” eccentric “Aunt Sally”, who wishes to scatter the ashes of her late husband on their land. As the play progresses, past affiliations are explored through dialogue that is sharp and funny and, in the final essence, deeply revealing of lost hopes and dreams and of the bitterness that must be conquered to perceive the good that life can offer.

The Desert Rose Playhouse production features the Valley debut of actor Brent Anderson as “Ken”.  The high desert’s Ann Van Haney plays “June” and local high school student Monique Burke as the precocious “Shirley”.  DRP favorite Jason Hull plays “Jed”, with popular company actors Melanie Blue and Michael Pacas returning from last season’s Clark Gable Slept Here and this year’s Times Square Angel as promising vocalist “Gwen” and her manager/husband “John”.  Also returning to our stage is veteran actress Alden West as batty “Aunt Sally” and Times Square Angel chorus boy James Owens as “Wes Hurley”, Gwen’s guitarist.  Jim Strait is directing, Robbie Wayne designs the set and costumes, and Phil Murphy is designing the lights.


“This is one of the most incredibly well-written, beautifully acted, profound and moving and often hilarious plays it has ever been my privilege to see in the American theater.” -NY Daily News

“Few contemporary playwrights are as humane, or as wise as Lanford Wilson. There aren’t many plays to see that are as interesting and absorbing and feeling and funny as this.” – Cue Magazine

“The characters are mostly flamboyant, their dialogue crackles with laugh-inducing lines and we find ourselves dazzled by Wilson’s virtuoso writing.” – The Hollywood Reporter

The Desert Rose Playhouse is a project of Desert Rose Productions, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.   Fifth of July continues Desert Rose Productions’ mission to produce and present literate, relevant and entertaining plays and musicals for LGBTQ and Gay-Friendly theatregoers in the Coachella Valley.  

Tickets are $37 for evening performances and $34 for matinees, which includes a $2 per ticket Facility Fee.

Go online at www.desertroseplayhouse.org or call 760-202-3000 to order tickets.


Fifth of July, by Lanford Wilson, Our Gay Heritage Production

Where:     The Desert Rose Playhouse, 69620 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

When:           January 12 – February 4, 2018; performances Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 PM;

Sundays at 2 PM.

Tickets:    $37.00 Friday & Saturday evenings and $34.00 Sundays matinees, including a $2 facility fee

To order:  Online at www.desertroseplayhouse.org or call 760-202-3000