John McGivern gives me hope. At a time when so many others, on the right and left, are doing all they can to tear us apart, preaching hate and inflexibility, McGivern is out there building bridges. Sure, he has a niche. But this self-proclaimed blue-collar Irish Catholic uncloseted homosexual veteran of a dozen 12-step programs doesn’t just create one-man shows that appeal to other blue-collar Irish Catholic uncloseted homosexuals who have endured, as McGivern quips at one point, “144 steps of recovery.” He entertains all of us with his witty, endearing stories of growing up in Milwaukee (and later Chicago), making us laugh with him at his many trials and tribulations as the unathletic brother in a family of jocks and as the skeptical gay adolescent in a seminary full of uptight believers. And in the process of telling these marvelous stories, he breaks through convention and shows us the world with fresh eyes. In one reminiscence–first performed in Midwest Side Story and repeated in this show, which is essentially a “best of” compilation–McGivern discusses the myriad ways his family closeted gay relatives, using euphemisms like “bachelor” and “bachelorette.” Likewise he jokes about the many ways the church uses silence and a sense of shame to control parishioners and clergy alike. Mayfair Theatre, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan, 312-786-9120. Through July 25: Tuesdays, 8 PM; Fridays, 10:15 PM. $20; $15 with a ticket stub from Shear Madness. –Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.