Playwright Terrance McNally and the cast. Photo courtesty of Joan Marcus.
Playwright Terrance McNally and the cast. Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus.

Every so often, a play comes along which reminds us of why we  love the theater so much.  For in it, we find moments of enlightenment and truth which transform us into better people. We walk out, deeply moved, challenged, and changed by what we have just seen.  Terrance McNally’s new Broadway offering,  Mothers and Sons is such a piece.

The play opens in the elegant apartment of  Cal Porter (Frederick Weller), shared with  his significantly younger husband, Will Ogden (Bobby Steggart), and their adopted son, Bud Odgen-Porter (Grayson Taylor). Cal  is making small talk with an unexpected visitor, Ms. Katherine Gerard (Tyne Daly).   Katherine  is  the mother of Porter’s former lover, Andre.  Years before, Andre was a promising stage actor whose life, like many gay men of his era, was snuffed out by the AIDS epidemic.  Even after twenty years, an unfulfilled personal life coupled with the shame of a homosexual son is too much for Katherine  to bear and she has come to their home to air her grievances, frustration, and disapproval.  Meanwhile, Cal and Will  remain proud of the lives they have led.

The subject of parental  discontent over sexuality is too often drawn in shades of black and white. Here, there is proper room for gray. What is most humanizing about McNally’s script is that it does not vilify Katherine.  It could simply portray her as  rigid and unforgiving, and yet Tyne Daly has provided us with well-rounded matron of complexity, sure to resonate with many theatergoers.  If a look is worth a thousand words, Ms. Daly is giving us the entire Wikipedia in 90 minutes. Her fellow co-stars shine equally in this sympathetic, heartfelt, and timely play about facing uncertainty and forging forgiveness.

Mothers and Sons is now playing on Broadway at the Golden Theater 252 West 45th Street between Broadway and 8th avenue. For tickets, call  212-239-6200,  online at, or go to the box office.