IN LOVE WITH THE ARROW COLLAR MAN
In Love with the Arrow Collar Man by Lance Ringel examines the lives of pre-eminent 20th-century American illustrator Joseph C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) and his model, muse, and life partner, Charles Beach.
Arrow Collar Man recounts the true story of a pioneering long-term gay couple whose life together spanned nearly half a century. Leyendecker's immense popularity came primarily from his 322 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, as well as for the use of his art in advertising – most notably the Arrow Collar Man, with Beach as the original model.
This play explores the challenge of balancing love, art, and commerce at a time when homosexuality was a crime, and how Leyendecker achieved an unlikely triumph on all fronts. Arrow Collar Man also chronicles Leyendecker's relationships with two fellow artists: his talented but self-destructive brother Frank; and Norman Rockwell, the protégé who surpassed him in fame.
Marc Miller from TheatreScene.com said, “In Love with the Arrow Collar Man [is] Lance Ringel’s history of a small but important chapter in early 20th century popular culture. … if you like seeing famous people before they were famous, and enjoy a surprising love story, come on down."
Kevin Phinney from MetroSource said, “Lance Ringel mixes much fact with some conjecture to try to flesh out exactly who Leyendecker was and what kind of life he and his inner circle experienced. … The play works well enough as an art lesson, and even better for those interested in LGBT cultural history.”
New York New Works Theatre Festival
The story is not only fascinating but well delineated — Ringel has chosen key plot points for maximum drama.
Gay City News
Lance Ringel's In Love with the Arrow Collar Man is my favorite kind of play. It tells a true historical story of people I don't know too much about and I learn more. Added bonus is that I learned about someone I thought I knew but didn't.
I was taken by the scruff of the neck and shaken out of myself by the emotions of the work. [The play] helped us to imagine that Joe and Charles might have been happy together, notwithstanding the everyday tragedy of families growing apart and careers taking bad turns.