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Diversionary's "Dooley" tells the tale of the revered but tortured gay playboy who inspired Kennedy

SAN DIEGO -- Diversionary Theatre's 2010-2011 season continues this week with the world premiere of “Dooley,” a play based on the life of Dr. Tom Dooley, the man who inspired John F. Kennedy to establish the Peace Corps.

Tom Dooley was a US Navy doctor in the 1950’s before being forced to resign after an ongoing investigation into his sexual orientation.

Following his death, there were multiple efforts to have Dooley canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church. These two such seemingly juxtaposed views of the man were made possible by his charismatic nature and the outpouring of admiration he received from his country.

Dooley was a man in near constant turmoil over his devout Catholicism and military/celebrity status in a time before “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

After being forced to resign from the Navy, Dooley threw himself into the cause of saving lives in Southeast Asia. He formed the non-profit agency MEDICO (Medical International Cooperation) and began building hospitals and clinics.

Dubbed “Doctor America” by his patients in Laos, Dooley gained international fame as a great humanitarian.

Playwright William diCanzio captures the essence of the man who captivated the world in the 1950’s era of Communist witch hunts, pre-Vietnam War jitters and political unrest.

A man of ever-contradicting tastes, Dooley wasn’t only an activist doctor saving lives in other countries; when not engrossed in his humanitarian efforts, he was a also renowned playboy who often ran up huge bills at lavish hotels while jet-setting around the world.

“Dooley,” incorporates dance, music, masks and puppetry to help tell the tale of this remarkable man who inspired the nation to open their minds and their hearts to others in need in distant lands.

Directed by Cynthia Stokes, who also directed the gay chamber opera “Sextet” last fall at Diversionary, “Dooley” promises to leave you amazed at the perseverance of the human spirit.

“Dooley,” previews Thursday May 5th and Friday, May 6th, with opening night Saturday, May 7th at 8 p.m. The play runs through May 28th.

Tickets range in price with discounts for seniors, military, students and large groups. To purchase tickets go online, or call the box office at (619) 220-0097.