By Greg Hernandez
The opening night performance of Sarah Jones’ Sell/Buy/Dateat the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre on October 14 left many of the stars in the sold-out audience raving.
“She is a badass,” said Will & Gracestar Debra Messing. “Tonight is amazing. I had to be a part of it. To be here at the Center is particularly special because a lot of beautiful things happen here.”
Jones portrays an array of multi-cultural characters—19 in all—in a show that is based on the real-life experiences of people affected by the sex industry.
The characters from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and generations come to life through a series of vignettes that are alternately funny and heartbreaking and cover such topics as sex trafficking and sex work.
A deeply-moved Brigitte Nielsen wiped away tears as she left the theater and said, “This should be seen in every classroom.”
Rosario Dawson is also a fan. “This isn’t my first time seeing the show. I keep bringing people,” she said. “This night is about the incredible and remarkable spirit and talent of Sarah Jones. This show is so powerful and that’s why it’s so critically important for me to bring people of all different kinds of backgrounds, genders and ages to see it.”
Lily Tomlin, Laverne Cox, Rashida Jones, Jenifer Lewis, and Lesley Ann Warren were among the other celebrities in attendance for the Tony Award winner’s official opening night performance. Tomlin and Cox co-hosted the gala evening and welcomed the audience before Jones took the stage.
“It’s an extraordinary, dynamic piece that she’s written and she’s performing,” Tomlin said. “I think Sarah is just one of the most gifted people on the planet and I love her and adore her. Meryl Streep discovered Sarah Jones a long time ago and just raved about her. I can’t say enough about Sarah and her abilities.”
Cox added, “I am so honored to be here and to be in this beautiful theater. All of the proceeds from tonight and the entire run of the show go to support LGBT youth and seniors.”
After her performance was complete, Jones took the unusual step of stepping out of all of her characters to address the audience as herself.
“Thank you to all of you for making this dream of mine come true,” she said. “This is my dream to get to do this work in a time like this. This was such a joyful opening night for me.’
The show originallypremiered Off-Broadway in 2016 at the Manhattan Theatre Club and had an extended run earlier this year at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. The current production at the Renberg has been commissioned by the NoVo Foundation.