Boston’s Best Kept “Secrets”

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Boston’s Best Kept “Secrets”

For more than ten years, Bostonians have known her for her over-the-top stage productions, most notably the acclaimed “Miss Folk America” and “Jesus has Two Mommies,” but two years ago, Faith Soloway – folk singer, Second City veteran and local lesbian luminary – couldn’t pull it off anymore. Life had changed. The medium had changed.
So, Soloway went viral.
The dedicated thespian took her moxie and her madcap to YouTube and created “Secrets,” a series of hilarious two-minute previews of a gay soap opera. The one catch: the soap doesn’t exist, only the sneak peaks.
“I was driving to my summer camp job with my two homo friends… and they were doing the stereotypical fey voices – I think one of them might have said ‘Shteecrets...’ and I added, ‘this week on Theecrets... Bruce and Benjamin escape from the Crystal Palace’.” Soloway says. “I didn't even know what that meant exactly, but I liked the idea of a heightened all gay environment, told in the straight soap way, only previews. And here was an organic idea that had no stage anywhere near it.”
Rather, Soloway rented a garage just outside Boston proper and set up a dais, brought in some props and assembled her pals from the theater days, then waited for the antics to begin. A twisted, cheeky cast of characters emerge in “The Potluck”—the first of three webisodes now online—which introduces a lesbian saboteur who puts meat in baked beans, a closeted lesbian and her “traveling companion” and Raquan, a rakish African-American man who fights with his elder, debonair partner about hanging with his “homies.” Long stares and dissonant keyboard music ensue.  
The ridiculous, irreverent merriment continues through episodes two and three, as more lesbian characters struggle with chastened loves, amnesia-inducing accidents and vegetarianism. Meanwhile, Raquan drinks 40-ounce Private Stock Malt Liquor with his pals before a confrontation with his partner, Philip.
“Now the fun, is getting back to it—really writing, creating more until it finds itself,” Soloway says. “There are subtle things, and there are big things, and I’m trying to find the synthesis as we go. And we can do it in a manner that is more lifestyle appropriate.”
Reconciling her talent for comedy and her passion for music is an enterprise on which Soloway has been working since she arrived in Boston more than a decade ago. Following a stint as the music director of Second City in her native Chicago, Soloway and her younger sister, Jill, created “The Real Life Brady Bunch,” a parody of sit-com obsession which toured the country and landed them a movie deal and the promise of fame and fortune in Hollywood.
The film, starring Conan O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter, came and Soloway went. Following love of folk music and a character’s real-life sister, Soloway packed up and moved to Boston in 1994, forming the band Faith Soloway Crisis and laying the groundwork for her “schlock-opera” parodies of self-important theater.
Beginning in 2000, Soloway produced a major stage event every two or so years, then life got in the way.
“Doing theatrical productions became harder as I got older—I couldn’t even bring myself to that table again when thinking about creating something new,” says Soloway, whose day job is director for Urban Improv, an inner-city youth theater program in Boston. “I tried a couple of times, had a couple of different theaters interested to produce with me, but when it came down to actualizing, it became harder to commit to that idea.”
But the turn away from the stage and toward multimedia has brought Soloway in closer contact with her sister, who has worked as an executive producer for such acclaimed shows as “Six Feet Under” and “The United States of Tara.” The pair has collaborated on a television pilot, a book and several other writing projects, with more in the works.  

“Jill is also working on a script for Fox studios that has a bow to a lesbian sister in it—kind of exaggerated version of our family,” Soloway says. “My girlfriend and I have been giving her notes from the East Coast. I’m just honored to be a part of that process.”