Queer It Up At City Theatre!

The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey challenges us to shine. It challenges those who aren’t queer to, well… queer it the hell up!

In this spirit, City Theatre reaches out to its audience with a story all too familiar to the queer community. Keith Randolph Smith shines in this one-man-show as Detective Chuck DeSantis, tasked with uncovering the truth behind gay teenager Leonard Pelkey’s disappearance. And it is Leonard who is ultimately the heart of this story, the search for him leaving a lasting impact on the detective and the town. On stage, Randolph Smith bares the heart and soul of his character’s journey, and the freedom he found through Leonard’s light.

Written by James Lecesne, author of the screenplay for Academy Award-winning short film TREVOR. Lecesne went on to found the Trevor Project, providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth 13-24.  Absolute Brightness returns to some of the same themes from TREVOR, highlighting the isolating effects of discrimination. With the perspective of straight Detective DeSantis at the forefront, Absolute Brightness explores the radical liberating effects queerness can have on anyone.

Keith Randolph Smith

This play provided a unique opportunity, putting women, trans, and non-binary folks in charge of design and production.  In addition, queer students helped curate, design, and produce props and photography seen in the production. These students are members of Dreams of Hope, an organization dedicated to providing “the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, and allied (LGBTQA+) youth a welcoming environment to grow in confidence, express themselves, and develop as leaders.”

Dreams of Hope Students

The show also stands as a bridge to the wider community. The final dress rehearsal on Friday, January 19, served as a benefit evening for the Dakota James Foundation, featuring a reception with all proceeds going toward the Foundation’s mission to encourage “collaboration to ensure public safety through improved surveillance, police procedures and cooperation, raising awareness, and supporting families of a missing person.”

Performance Schedule: January 20—February 25, 2018

  • Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.
  • Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. and/or 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and/or 9:00 p.m.
  • Sundays at 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.
  • For a complete listing of show times, please visit CityTheatreCompany.org or call 412-431-2489.

Special Events:

  • Post-Show Talkbacks: Immediately following the performances on January 28 at 2:00 p.m., February 3 at 1:00 p.m., and February 4 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Hosted by Director of New Play Development, Clare Drobot, post-show talkbacks encourage audiences to engage with the artists and ideas behind the productions.
  • Greenroom: Art & Afterparty Friday, February 2 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Pay-What-You-Want Saturday, February 3 at 1:00 p.m.A block of tickets is reserved for audience members to name their own price at this performance.Walk-up sales only, beginning two hours before curtain. Call the box office to check on

Accessible Performances:

  • ASL Interpretation Tuesday, February 13 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Open Caption & Audio Description Sunday, February 18 at 2:00 p.m.


  • Under 30: Reserve $15 tickets in advance for performances except Opening Night and
    Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.; rush tickets may be available at those performances. Must present ID to
    receive Under 30 pricing.
  • Seniors age 62 and older: $24 rush tickets may be purchased at the box office beginning two
    hours before curtain, based on availability.
  • Groups of ten or more: Contact Joel Ambrose at 412.431.4400 x286.