You might think Eric Tipler — a local gay musical theater composer — would be thrilled to have his first show “One Night in New York!” produced at this month’s Fringe Festival, but in actuality, fear is the emotion that he’s feeling most strongly at the moment.
“It’s terrifying to be quite honest,” he says. “It’s good because things are going really well. Our cast is fantastic and I think it’s going to be a really solid Fringe production and I think people will enjoy it. … But it’s quite scary because it’s such a personal thing to put out there. … I think I’m going to have to find something to do on opening night — run the video camera or something — because I know I won’t be able to just sit there.”
“One Night” is the story of Michael, a 23-year-old gay kid from Iowa who’s never had a same-sex kiss. Desperate for a hookup, he travels to New York and meets a fabulous fairy godmother. Both end up with more than they bargained for. The show will run over five nights starting Saturday (preview night) and continuing through July 27 at GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square (3333 14th St., N.W.). Visit capitalfringe.org for show times and tickets.
The 35-year-old Staunton, Va., native, who grew up loving musical theater and has worked in the arts in several capacities (perhaps most memorably in Europe working on several big-time opera productions), tutors high school students by day but over the course of the last year and a half, has been writing “One Night” with help from his friends and neighbors who met monthly to help him workshop the show.
Tipler lives in Shaw and enjoys hiking, movies, photography and yoga in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Since I was 20. The hardest person was probably my college roommate and best friend; he was a straight Orthodox Jew from a conservative family. I still remember his response: “Really? That’s interesting. (Pause) So, do you still wanna watch ‘The Simpsons’ tonight?”
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I had some amazing times at Nation, back in the day. The dancing was fantastic, and crazy things happened there. I remember once when my friend Edward (he’s now an art history professor) was holding court in the front room. He was wearing this long, red velvet caftan and some kind of flashy necklace and was surrounded by 20 shirtless guys. It may have been the closest thing to Studio 54 that D.C. has ever seen.
Describe your dream wedding.
Oh wow. Probably on the beach of a Caribbean island, small crowd of 20-30 of our closest friends. And there may have to be doves involved.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Education reform. I taught for two years at an inner-city charter school and I believe that schools are the best way to address poverty and social inequality in this country.
What historical outcome would you change?
I wish Mozart hadn’t died so early. He only lived to be 35, and composed some of the greatest music ever. Imagine what he would have written if he had lived 20 years longer!
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Seeing Justin Timberlake perform live at the 9:30 club (back in 2003, I think? This also dates me!). I’m from a classical music background, and in the classical world, pop musicians are often seen as more flash than talent. But when you see JT up close, you realize that he isn’t just a pretty face — he’s an incredibly talented musician and a performer who can really work it.
On what do you insist?
Trying to treat all people with courtesy and respect.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Oh dear. Well, I just saw “Anything Goes” at the Kennedy Center, so it’s a one-liner from the show, a letter: “Dearest Darling, I love you so, but what good is love when there is no hope? Love, Hope.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“He Came, He Saw, He Sang”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe there’s some kind of deeper truth to our existence, beyond the everyday world.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Right now? To find ways to connect urban gays and lesbians with the ongoing struggle for LGBT rights around the world and in rural America.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The ones that equate femininity with weakness. I find that the strongest and most interesting people — male or female, gay or straight — are the ones who fully embrace both their masculine and feminine sides. We all have both.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Trick.” So cute!
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I generally like social customs, so I’m probably gonna say none.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Well, I guess it’s the one that rhymes with “pony.” We can all dream, right?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That being gay was so much fun. And that almost everything you think matters at 18, doesn’t.
It’s home base. I love the city and have a fantastic group of friends here.