Love and Vinyl stars Max Hartman, Karen Parrish and Jamal Sterling (Photo by Jordan Fraker)

Queer playwright brings romance to the record store in ‘Love and Vinyl’

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

In the aisles amid music and records, a love story plays out among three people. That’s the premise of Bob Bartlett’s play, Love and Vinyl. And it’s also the location for his romantic comedy.

Kitchen Dog Theater closes its season with Bartlett’s play, staging it at an actual record store.

“I’ve always been attracted to the form of site-specific theater,” Bartlett said by phone from his Maryland home. “In some ways, I distrust corporate theater and didn’t feel welcome when I was younger. Plus, shelling out 200 bucks now for a ticket sometimes makes it seem like it’s gotten worse.”


Love and Vinyl
Regional Premiere (contains adult language)
Written by: Bob Bartlett
Directed by: Christopher Carlos
Max Hartman
Karen Parrish
Jamal Sterling
Stage Manager: Ruth Stephenson
Costume and Prop Design: Tina Parker
House Manager: Bryanna Pihlstrom
Box Office Manager: Stephanie Jasper
Through June 23 at Good Records,
9026 Garland Road.



As his own antidote, the playwright crafted shows that took place outside of a theater — like a laundromat (The Accident Bear) or even out in nature in dark, creepy woods (Lykos Anthropos). He’s writing a piece that will have audiences kayaking out to see his work.

For Love and Vinyl making its regional premiere in Dallas, it’s all good. Kitchen Dog Theater opened the play on Thursday at Good Records in East Dallas, and it runs through June 23.

Bob Bartlett (Photo by JC Stanley Photography)

The dynamics of the show are hetero, but the gay playwright said that’s ok. He wrote the play with options. On the page, they are “straight,” but “I have a note that the play can be cast in any way,” he said. “Names may indicate gender, but there’s no reason this rom-com can’t be any other configuration.

“I can’t wait to see an all-male or all-female or all-nonbinary version.”

Ironically, Bartlett isn’t the romantic type. He’s declared himself to be done with love. At the same time, his characters in Love and Vinyl reflect what he says isn’t often seen onstage.

“I have written the characters to be older because there are not enough plays about older people falling in love,” he said. “I do not believe in love or romance, so I tap into my romantic id for this. But I have a lot of fun with the juxtaposition with characters who still want to fall in love.”

He makes the declaration not out of any sour grapes but more out of practicality. Plus, it may not be conducive to living that writer’s life.

“I’m 60, and I just really like being alone,” he said. “The thought of having to deal with someone else and their bullshit — I don’t think I can anymore. I’m perfectly fine the way I am. I moved to downtown Annapolis. I wanted to live in a crappy apartment and write.”

Bartlett added that this perspective is better for Love and Vinyl and any future romantic plays.

He’s also a professor at Bowie State University where he encourages his students to get out to theater — like, way out.

“I believe my students should take their art to the streets where people are. I think some people get turned off to the theater because they don’t always reflect who they — we — are,” he said.

Bartlett doesn’t set out to write queer plays. The ideas come to him as they do. But he’s not without his fair share of queer shows.

In Bareback Ink, an influential man commissions a tattoo artist for a large piece on his boy-toy’s back. The play is based on the gay Ganymede myth. Lykos Anthropos is a queer werewolf story where a man and a stranger meet in the woods (not based on Reverchon Park), and in A Home By the Sea, a writer accepts the invitation of an older gay couple.

He may not believe in love anymore, but Bartlet believes in Love and Vinyl. He’s confident the story has found a welcoming home for the next couple of weeks.
“It felt right since vinyl has had this resurgence, and every city has these record shops that evoke something,” he said. “I also love that [Kitchen Dog Theater Co-Artistic Director] Tina Parker got the play, and I know it’s in good hands.”

For tickets and information, visit Because of the site, seating is limited so reservations are recommended.