Cover art by Larry B Salzmann

As the Beaver

Joel Drake Johnson
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AS THE BEAVER takes as its premise that Ward and June Cleaver’s youngest son, The Beaver, is gay. Joel Drake Johnson then spins this seemingly slight premise into a smart and funny and ultimately enriching exploration of American society and family.

Production Info

Cast: 10 total (3 female, 7 male)
Full Length Drama (about 90 minutes)
Single Set
Contemporary Costumes
Category: Tags: ,

Press Quotes

“Tell people the initial concept of Chicagoan Joel Johnson’s new play AS THE BEAVER — Ward and June Cleaver discover that their younger son is gay — and they’ll probably roll their eyes and ask, ‘What’s next?’ But tell people that Johnson doesn’t settle for a late-night skit, that he develops a fully realized play that is at once hilarious, challenging and moving, and you’ll be doing them a favor. For AS THE BEAVER … is one of the funniest and cleverest shows to be seen in a long while …” —Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun-Times

“… Happily, Johnson quickly transcends the easy laughs, using his premise to accomplish something considerably more ambitious: he ruthlessly deconstructs the mindless, superficial worldview of 50s and early-60s sitcoms … The play is often hilarious, thanks in part to the playwright’s great ear for formulaic sitcom dialogue … Just when it looks as if Johnson has exhausted his premise he leaps ahead two decades, from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, to show how Beaver and company are faring in post-Stonewall, Reagan-era America” —Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader

About the Author


  • Joel Drake Johnson

    Joel Drake Johnson is an award winning, internationally produced playwright and teacher who got his start as a writer at Chicago's critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theater (Lynn Baber, Barb Reeder and Marc Silvia, artistic directors). His latest play RASHEEDA SPEAKING, originally directed by Sandy Shinner and produced by Chicago’s Rivendell Theatre, opened in New York City at The Signature Theatre as part of The New Group’s 2014-15 season. Under the direction of Tony and Emmy Award Winner, Cynthia Nixon, it featured two time Oscar Winner, Dianne Wiest and Tony Award Winner, Tonya Pinkins as well as Darren Goldstein (“The Affair”) and Patricia Conolly (ensemble member/ Guthrie Theater and Stratford Festival). RASHEEDA was subsequently nominated for best new off-Broadway play by the The Outer Critics Circle. Other plays include FOUR PLACES first produced at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater under the direction of Sandy Shinner and featuring Mary Ann Thebus and Meg Thalken. It was subsequently produced in LA by The Rogue Machine Theatre, where under the direction of Robin Larsen and featuring Tony nominee, Roxanne Hart, it garnered more critical acclaim that included five Ovation Award nominations, four nominations (including best play) from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and a Garland Award for Best New Play. It has since been produced internationally. Johnson has won three Illinois Arts Council grants including one for A BLUE MOON which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists Theatre (Russ Tutterow, artistic director) and Woodstock, NY. Other works include AS THE BEAVER, first produced by Zebra Crossing, THE END OF THE TOUR first produced by Victory Gardens, and THE FALL TO EARTH which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and featured Tony Award Winner, Rondi Reed. It was subsequently produced at The Penguin Rep featuring Tony Award Winner, Michelle Pawk and directed by Joe Brancato; at 59E59 Theatre in NYC, featuring Tony nominee, Amelia Campbell (dir: Joe Brancato); The Odyssey Theatre in LA featuring Oscar nominee JoBeth Williams (dir: Robin Larsen). Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre produced the premiere of THE FIRST GRADE (dir: Tom Ross) which won the San Francisco/ Bay Area Critic Circle Award for best new play of 2010-11. Johnson has been commissioned four times by Steppenwolf Theatre, commissions which led to productions of A BLAMELESS LIFE (dir: Tony Award Winner, Anna D. Shapiro) and TRANQUILLITY WOODS (dir. Sandy Shinner). Johnson has been nominated 5 times for Best New Play by Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award Committee. He is currently working on a new play commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre. He has taught playwriting at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL, DePaul University and Northwestern University.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 6/1/2010
Pages 66
ISBN 9780881454321

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Premiered at Zebra Crossing Theater, Chicago

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
As the Beaver is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC