It's hard to say which is more incredible: "The Last Session," or the story of the man who wrote it.


Director Samuel Wood has reunited the remarkable Jody Wells (Gideon) with Carla Kaiser Kotrc, both of whom performed in the Denver premiere in 1999. They are now paired with the estimable Laura Chavez, David Ballew and young Rob Riney, who delivers a breakthrough performance as Buddy, a condemning, confounded younger version of Gideon.


It works, surprisingly and wonderfully, because it's grounded in such truth and truthful performances. Because it's so heartfelt, passionate and honest.

Jody Wells plays Gideon, a gay songwriter dying of AIDS, in Steve Schalchlin's "The Last Session" at Theatre Off Broadway.

It's fun to watch the divas snap (as in fingersnap), to see their swagger turn to seething and finally sadness. But the heart of the piece is expressed in Gideon's moving love songs, with Wells on keyboards (he's from the Metropolitan Church of the Rockies' band "The Back Pew"). These are all confident, capable singers, and these often moving songs give each the chance to get all pop-gospel guttural.

But the ultimate success of "The Last Session" hinges on how the dialogue between Gideon and Buddy, both spiritual preacher's sons on vastly different journeys, leads to real understanding. What infuses their debate with humanity is Buddy's willingness to feel conflict and confusion — and keep talking; to still admire the sinner he sees before him.

Even though we never meet the man all this music is being made for, "The Last Session" celebrates a committed relationship that has stood the test of time and needs no one's outside validation.

Gay or straight is immaterial. "The Last Session" has emotional tentacles that will inevitably snare anyone who has sat beside the bed of a loved one, waiting for them to die.

John Moore: 303-954-1056 or