A gripping and poignant story of conversion therapy, excommunication, divorce, prostitution and drugs comes to New Hope when Steven Fales performs his long-running one-man show “Confessions of a Mormon Boy” on Dec. 8.
The show, a true story about Fales’ struggle to find a middle ground between the extremes of being a perfect Mormon from Utah and the perfect rent boy in Manhattan, was an off-Broadway hit and has received international acclaim for nearly two decades.
Fales said that when he had the first public reading of the play in Salt Lake City in 2001, he had no idea it would be as successful as it has been.
“I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said about his humble beginnings with the show. “All I knew was that I had a story and I was compelled to tell it. That it continues to endure has been a
“My original director told me in 2013 that he always knew this piece would endure. There’s a timelessness to the piece and the themes are still timely. I’m lucky to still be in a position physically to tell the story.”
Despite the serious themes the show explores, it also has quite a bit of humor throughout that buoys his story, Fales said.
“I knew I was taking on some heavy issues,” he said. “Early on, I took a stand-up comedy class just to heighten my comic voice. One of the fun things about ‘Confessions’ is that you will laugh all through the very intense things like the spiritual abuse, the excommunications, losing everything, losing your kids and then descending into the underworld of prostitution and drugs.
“It’s heavy stuff, but we try to keep our sense of humor and that sense of humor has helped to keep me afloat until I could really get the therapy and the help that I needed. My writing was always ahead of my healing, but humor got me by until I could really tackle some deep wounds.”
With issues like conversion therapy making headlines and films like “Boy Erased” bringing renewed attention to these issues, Fales said viewers will definitely notice parallels, but there’s freshness to his experiences.
“I’ve added some nuances to the story that I’m really excited to be able to tell,” he said. “I’m hoping that ‘Boy Erased’ opens the door more for my point of view.”
“My experiences are in ‘Confessions’ and I think these stories are all relevant and ready to be told. I did see ‘Boy Erased’ and I read the book [written by Garrard Conley]. I think he’s an extraordinary voice for this conversation, especially with conversion therapy being on the docket for the GOP platform. All these stories are really to attack the quackery that has been going on for so long.”
And what if you’re not Mormon?
“It’s not just a Mormon thing,” Fales said. “People who grew up Methodist or Lutheran who see the show think, ‘Did you steal my journals to write this?’ I’ve had Jews thank me for helping them come out to their rabbi.”
Fales believes that many people also can relate to the outcast feeling that the show’s character experiences.
“The thing about the show is that I also take on myself. It’s becoming about how I learned to start growing up. That’s a universal story. How do I stop playing the victim even though I’ve been a victim? I stopped playing it and I reclaimed myself.”
The success of “Confessions of Mormon Boy” has allowed Fales the opportunity to write and perform companion pieces to the story (“Missionary Position” and “Prodigal Dad”). But Fales said he plans to put these stories aside soon and perform works outside his Mormon
“There’s so much on the other side of ‘Mormon Boy,’” he said. “I have about two years to wrap the ‘Mormon Boy’ experience up. I have plays and musicals in development that aren’t so Mormon-centric that I’m really excited to get to.
“I will always be a solo performer. I’ve been in some comedy clubs lately working on a piece that is just standup called ‘When All Else Fales.’ It’s not so much about being Mormon — it’s about being human.”
Steven Fales performs “Confessions of a Mormon Boy,” 8 p.m. Dec. 8 at The Rrazz Room, 385 W. Bridge St., New Hope. For more information, call 888-596-1027 or visit https://mormonboyoffbroadway.com/.