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LA Gay & Lesbian Center cancels Deathtrap due to censorship

Estate of playwright Ira Levin prohibited male leads from having physical relationship onstage - despite their being engaged in an affair

Ira Levin's classic comedy-thriller Deathtrap had a sold out 10 week run at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center's Davidson/Valentini Theatre last spring so The Center decided to bring the show back this fall with the original cast intact.

But a brief moment of onstage nudity that had titillated audiences caused the estate of playwright Ira Levin to revoke performance rights.

The two-act thriller has a Broadway playwright putting murder in his plan to take credit for a male student's script - a student with whom he is having an affair.

After The Center made an impassioned plea to Levin's estate, performance rights were restored but they came with some strict guidelines this time around: Any onstage behavior that portrayed the two lead male characters having a physical relationship was prohibited. 

The Center has decided to cancel the production saying the restrictions 'would force the play’s central relationship back into the closet, thus compelling the Center to compromise both its mission and its integrity.'

'It would also result in a very different and less effective production than the one audiences had been lining up to see,' The Center added in a statement.

Deathtrap was nominated for a Tony Award during its original Broadway run and was made into a feature film that starred Christopher Reeve, Michael Caine and Dyan Cannon.

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