Theatre 3 plans benefit concert to assist Derek Whitener

Theatre 3 announced today that it would be holding a special fundraising concert to benefit out actor and producer Derek Whitener.

Whitener, the artistic director of Firehouse Theatre in Farmers Branch, was brutally beaten with a pipe last week as he exited the Target near Cityplace east of Uptown. He has been at Baylor Hospital in serious condition ever since; he had to undergo brain surgery and has reportedly yet to speak.

The concert — which will be at T3 in the Quadrangle on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. — is being organized by Calvin Scott Roberts, currently in Theatre 3’s presentation of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. He will be joined by Janelle Lutz, his co-star in that show, as well as Ian Mead Moore, Keith J. Warren, Alexandra Cassens and more.  Admission is free, but a cash donation to aid Whitener is requested.

In addition, supporters who can or cannot attend are directed to the GoFundMe page established by Whitener’s family. You can donate here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

STAGE REVIEW: ‘Grounded’

One-actor plays are the theatrical equivalent of compositional etudes — exercises to show one’s mastery of a form. It’s like a juggling act: “See what I can do!” That doesn’t make them a bad thing (I enjoy juggling acts and etudes), but it does make for an insular art form.

In Second Thought Theatre‘s one-actor play Grounded, Jenny Ledel is the one tasked with carrying all the weight of the show, and she does so compellingly, holding our attention for 80 minutes. (That’s a greater accomplishment than it may sound.) Ledel plays an American fighter pilot (no name, of course — this is a play of ideas, not real people) who, after getting pregnant and having a daughter, gets reassigned from a combat zone to a base outside of Las Vegas. It’s not a demotion, she’s assured, but the new normal. She’s still a fighter pilot, only instead of sitting in a cockpit with a bullion-dollar bird under her, she’ll be in a control room, operating drones. Her life won’t be in danger, just her targets. She’ll get the job done with cold-blooded efficiency.

Just how cold-blooded, she isn’t prepared for.

I always tend to bristle a bit at “message” plays that manipulate a character to serve an idea. The pilot, even though female, seems like a caricature of a macho, Stallone-and-Schwarzenegger-loving rah-rah warmonger who is only alive when she’s flyin’ jets. So her hesitance to end the pregnancy following a one-night stand, and to stay away from combat for several years, rings false — a gimmick to be employed for retraining her and explaining her crisis later. (It’s a different thing to kill terrorists when you don’t have kids of your own to worry about.) Her mental-emotional deterioration isn’t quite believable, either. But hey, the point of the play is more to make a “statement” about the immorality of drone programs than it is to develop a character and a storyline. It’s intent isn’t to move audiences, but to have them nod knowingly, as if, rather than applause at the end, the playwright would prefer that you compose a strongly-worded letter to your congressman.

It’s not a comfortable fit, despite Ledel’s efforts. The multimedia elements also serve the production, and parts of the script are interesting and clever. (Calling drone work “The Chair Force” might not be original, but it’s amusing and evocative.) But nothing about Grounded grabs you emotionally or resonates as truthful. If you just want a screed about drone programs, you’d be better off listening to a TEDTalk.

Through Feb. 4.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Throwing Shade’ Podcast becomes a TV show… tonight!

Erin&BryanBFor years, we’ve been big fans on the Podcast Throwing Shade — which, as they say, addresses issues important to women and gay men, so basically like a talk show on Lifetime TV. The hosts, Bryan Safi and Erin Gibson, are native Texans with a dishy, funny but socially-conscious take on the world. We discussed all that with them last summer in this interview. At that time, they talked about their new TV show — part current affairs, part pre-recorded bits — which would begin airing this month. Well, that time has come! Tonight on TVLand at 9:30 p.m. local time, Throwing Shade, the TV program, will make its debut. It’s on my season pass already, and I hope y’all will show your support as well. During Fauxnauguration Week, we could all use a little shade.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

STAGE REVIEW: ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’

Curious-IncidentWe are in the era of post-modern theater, like it or not. And I don’t always like it.

Theater is a dynamic art form, and three cheers for experimentation and finding the “new normal.” But for about the last decade, plays have relished a little too much in reminding us that they are plays, while trying to turn a “night at the theater” into a sensory overload. Projected sets. Ear-splitting musical cues that occur suddenly. Lighting designs that approximate film editing more than staged-scene transitions. Sometimes, some combination of these work (American Idiot, The Lieutenant of Inishman, Chinglish); sometimes they don’t (Dirty Dancing springs horribly to mind).

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, now at the Winspear Opera House, falls generally into the “plus” column of these po-mo plays, though it feels more sizzle than steak. Based on Mark Haddon’s book (for years, the biggest-selling book in British history), it tells the story of 15-year-old suburban kid Christopher. Christopher is “special needs” — the word “autism” is never used, though it’s clear he falls on the spectrum of savants with underdeveloped social skills. Christopher hates to be touched (even by his parents), he cannot tell a lie (though he proves himself adept and selective truth-sharing), he’s good at math but not at metaphor (he able to sit for his “A levels” — roughly the equivalent of SATs in the U.S. — two years early, but doesn’t understand when people say “I’ve got my eye on you” or “you’re the apple of my eye”). His manias conspire when he discovered the brutally murdered dog of a neighbor, and determine to figure out who committed the crime. (The reveal is not at all surprising.) This leads him, in Act 2, to run away to London in search of a different set of answers.

The novel, which is told from Christopher’s perspective, is an “unreliable narrator” book, a chance to see the world through the unique eyes of its complex protagonist. The play can’t do that exactly, so Christopher’s story — in the form of his journal — is read aloud by his teacher (with repeated references to the fact we are actually watching a play about that story); we get inside Christopher’s head by the use of sound, movement and lighting effects that turn the electrified cube that is the set into a puzzle box. It’s as loud and weird to us as the world must seem to Christopher.

That works effectively… for about half the 150-minute performance time. When Christopher is set loose in London — navigating the tubes, wandering the streets, encountering strangers — it turns into an almost psychedelic nightmare that makes its point long before the adventure ends.

It’s that awkward admixture — Act 2 begins with a nerve-shattering drum beat, without so much as the lights dimming to warn you to put away your cell phone — that makes Curious a slight conundrum: You appreciate it more than you enjoy it.

CuriousIncident1181rThe same was true, to be frank, with director Marianne Elliott’s last stateside production, War Horse. (Curious is the longest-running new play on Broadway to open since 2000; War Horse is No. 2.) War Horse used life-sized puppets to tell its prosaic story of a boy and his quadruped; Curious uses similar “wows” to tell its story of a boy and his pet rat. But for both, the equation adds up to less than the sum of its parts; the pacing drags, and the effects lose their punch eventually. (The same is true of the full-frontal male nudity in Naked Boys Singing.)

Before the gimmicks overstay their welcome, however, you’re delighted and intrigued by the stagecraft, which employs Tony-nominated choreography to move Christopher around his environment, a protean stage of hidden doors and LED lights and primary colors that set and re-set the mood. But it all meanders eventually, until you’re not entirely sure what you’ve seen. On opening night, the audience jumped up in applause at the end, appropriately impressed by the energy and creativity. That is, the audience members still there — a fair amount of attrition occurred during intermission. Whether the defectors missed out on the full impact or got the point quickly and moved on it anyone’s guess.

At the Winspear Opera House through Jan. 22.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Having a hard time coming out? Here are some phrases to help

Sometimes, it’s difficult to say the words: “Mom… Dad… I’m gay.” You panic. What will they say? How can five letters do so much? Have I sprung it on them too quickly?

Fear not. We have some alternative ways you can come out that may soften the blow. There are the old-school ones — “I’m a confirmed bachelor,” “I’ll never be the marrying kind,” “I’m a Friend of Dorothy,” “I’ve started dating someone… I think you will like this person….They are very lovely.” But we have some much more modern versions. Insert as warranted for your situation.

“I want to be a theater major at Baylor.”

“Cam and Mitch are like role models for me and my friends.”

“Bey has it all over Nicki, m’kay?” (Optional: Head roll and finger snap.)

“Bob is my roommate.” (You live in a studio. With one bed. And your parents have visited.)

“Debbie Reynolds and George Michael in one week?!?!… I just can’t.”

“Who care about a Grammy — I want to win a Tony.”

“Who does Donald Trump’s hair? No one good, I promise you.”

“I got you tickets to Cher’s latest farewell tour. I thought we could go together.”

“Who’s Russell Wilson?!?!?…. Oh! Ciara’s husband.”

“You’re not actually wearing a sweater set to church are you, Mom? Grrrl.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Golden Globe winners have a gay ol’ time

The Golden Globes had an entertaining opening number parodying ‘La La Land,’ which went on to win seven awards, a record number in the history of the awards.

The Golden Globe awards did something unusual last night — it entertained not as a drunken rude trainwreck but as a funny festival of film (and TV). Following the opening parody musical number — wherein the typically puppy-whiny host Jimmy Fallon did an extended tribute to nominee La La Land — Fallon got off some terrific one-liners, many jibing the President-Elect. (Look forward to the brain-damaged tweets to critique it).

The award packs some early surprises. Frontrunner best picture Moonlight lost its first category, for best supporting actor nominee Mahershala Ali, to the excellent Aaron Taylor-Johnson for director Tom Ford’s chilling Nocturnal Animals. (Taylor-Johnson bested some of the best nominees of the night, including Jeff Bridges for Hell or High Water, Simon Helberg for Florence Foster Jenkins and Dev Patel for Lion.)

It wasn’t all bad news for Moonlight, though — the film ended up with one win: Best Motion Picture/Drama. It was also my No. 1 film of 2016.

Viola Davis was a popular sentimental win for Fences (supporting actress), but the most heartfelt moment of the night was surely Ryan Gosling, winner as best actor in a musical or comedy for La La Land, in his acceptance speech honoring his wife for all of her sacrifices as he pursued his career.

That wasn’t the film’s only win, though. Best song and score went to La La Land, including out co-lyricist Benj Pasek, whose writing partner Justin Paul tributed “to musical theater nerds everywhere,” as well as to writer-director Damien Chazelle for his screenplay and as best director, actress Emma Stone and best comedy motion picture for a total of seven awards — a record. (Barring ties, no film could win more than nine or ten; no TV show could win more than five.)

As expected, Casey Affleck won best actor in a drama for Manchester by the Sea. He’s the unchallenged frontrunner for the Oscar. The brooding French actress Isabelle Huppert won for the thriller Elle.

Zootopia was the surprise winner for animated feature (opposite Moana, Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings) but it did give the film’s gay director, Byron Howard, the opportunity to thank his husband.

In the TV category, Atlanta (my No. 2 show of 2916) stood out among a lot of gay-friendly series to take best comedy series and best actor for series creator Donald Glover, while out actress Sarah Paulson won best actress in a miniseries portraying Marcia Clark in The People v O.J. Simpson, which also won best limited series (my No. 5 show). It was out-matched by three wins for The Night Manager (actor/miniseries, supporting actor and supporting actress). The Crown on Netflix won best actress/drama (Claire Foy) and best drama series.

Meryl Streep won the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement, delivering a powerful, political speech.

Here are all the winners.

Motion Pictures

Supporting Actor: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals.

Original Score: La La Land.

Original Song: “City of Stars” La La Land.

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences.

Actor/Comedy: Ryan Gosling, La La Land.

ScreenplayLa La Land.

Byron Howard, right, thanked his husband while accepting the Golden Globe for ‘Zootopia.’

Animated Feature: Zootopia.

Foreign Film: Elle.

Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land.

Actress/Comedy: Emma Stone, La La Land.

Motion Picture/Comedy: La La Land.

Actor/Drama: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea.

Actress/Drama: Isabelle Huppert, Elle.

Motion Picture/Drama: Moonlight.

 

Television

Actor/Drama: Billy Bob Tornton, Goliath.

Actress/Comedy: Tracee Ellis Ross, Blackish.

Series/Comedy: Atlanta.

Sarah Paulson, winner for best actress in a miniseries, for playing Marcia Clark in ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson.’

Actress/Miniseries: Sarah Paulson, The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

Miniseries or TV MovieThe People vs. O.J. Simpson.

Supporting Actor: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager.

Supporting Actress: Olivia Colman, The Night Manager.

Actor/Miniseries: Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager.

Actress/Drama: Claire Foy, The Crown.

Series/Drama: The Crown.

Actor/Comedy: Donald Glover, Atlanta.

 

Cecil B. DeMille Award: Meryl Streep.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The ‘Curious Incident’ of movement choreographer Steven Hoggett’s career

When people think of “choreography,” the first image that comes to mind is probably of arabesques and plies, pirouettes and chorus line kicks.

Steven Hoggett has none of that.

I’m actually trained in English literature, not dance,” the Brit quips. “But I did choreography as soon as I realized I could not make a living at English.”

“Make a living” undersells what he does. For much of the last decade, Hoggett has been in-demand in the U.S. and the U.K. for his unique take on choreography — usually more along the lines of “director of movement” and “stager of dances.”

“I honestly don’t really know [why that’s my niche],” he admits.” Certainly in terms of work, here in the States I have been doing more movement that [traditional choreography].” It started with his work on the Green Day jukebox musical American Idiot. “Producers and directors saw that work as not the traditional step-ball-change. Since then, I never tend to get the jobs that require the particular tropes and methods [of dance choreography]. There’s a lot of boys [in New York City] who do that kind of job very well. So I tend to get this sense of [being hired] for less orthodox shows, because what I do is not choreography in the strictest sense of the word. And I’m very happy with it.”

Consider this: Among his credits are not only American Idiot (which itself was a compelling and edgy but far-from-traditional musical), but also Once (the Tony Award-winning, based on the Oscar-winning Irish film, set almost entirely in a pub), Rocky The Musical (doing fight choreography), the plays Peter and the Starcatcher and The Crucible, and the reason we are talking, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which opens Wednesday at the Winspear Opera House for a limited run.

Curious, based on a book that was, until 50 Shades of Grey, the top-selling novel of all time in England, concerns a teenaged boy, Christopher, who lives on the autism spectrum. He noticed everything, and sets out to solve the mystery of the killing of his neighbor’s dog. Much of the story is told from his skewed perspective of the world, so it was up to Hoggett and his collaborator, Scott Graham, to integrate that sense of disconnect with the movement in the play.

How do you do that, though, without all the musical cues that come with a score?

“All of that is as easily attributable to a script as to a score — there’s a textual rhythm, looking for the rhythm in the dialogue or the narrative. But also, what are the gaps — what’s not on the page that needs to be there? We let choreography tell a story, and Curious has lots of that kind of opportunity. It’s one single boy’s world viewpoint.”

He faced similar challenges on Once, which Hoggett says the create team considered “a play with some songs in it, as opposed to a group of songs with no book to it. There happened to be moments where it lifted itself into song and then came down into a play. To my mind, it was about being as delicate as possible — slight choices instead of rash choices. Movement should be threaded through the narrative.”

One element of his kind of work is a mixed blessing — Hoggett tends to work with actors “who have a proclivity for movement as part of the storytelling more that ‘dancers’ — in fact, in America, I have yet to work with ‘dancers.’ So you have to create a physical palette for everyone in the room. No one can do what the think they can do on Day One, so it’s always a clean slate, always a fresh start. On the other hand, I can never rely on anything physically in my cast, so it’s always about thinking on your feet. But it doesn’t feel intimating. I love it.”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time plays Jan. 11–22 at the Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Tickets available at ATTPAC.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Still wanted: Nathan Sykes — the gay interview

 

nathansykes3Boy bander on self-discovery, gay rumors and his sometimes-bromosexual relationship with Tom Daley

Since serenading queer crowds at gay clubs as a teenager, Nathan Sykes has been the subject of prurient curiosity regarding his own sexuality. He’s British, so there’s that. And the whole boy band thing, which began in 2009, when Sykes joined Eurodance group The Wanted, didn’t exactly disband “is he or isn’t he?” rumors.

Now, with his solo debut Unfinished Business is out in the midst of a band hiatus, the giggly 23-year-old opens up about ongoing interest in his sexuality (“I didn’t know I was gay, but OK!”), his sometimes-“bromosexual” relationship with Tom Daley and being “really drunk” at a gay club at 4 a.m.

Dallas Voice: You’re 23, but you sound like you’re 30, and that’s a compliment.  Nathan Sykes: Thank you so much. That’s a marvelous compliment. It’s been part of this journey of self-discovery as an artist, which has been incredible.

What does your journey to self-discovery involve?  Just really figuring out for the first time who I am. I knew who Nathan from The Wanted was, and I lived my life for five years as Nathan from The Wanted. I’d be walking down the street [and people would say], “Oh my god, that’s Nathan from The Wanted!” Then, for the first time, I sat there, especially after the band decided to take a break, and I went, “Who the hell is Nathan Sykes?” And it was for me to figure out who that was, and it was an amazing journey of figuring out who I am as an artist, what music I wanted to create, how I want to be portrayed, how I want to look, how I’d like to come across. And then I was like, “Just be yourself,” and even that was a breakthrough moment. Because when you’re working so hard with four other people, it’s amazing for the first time to focus on being myself.

In so many words, you recently said that after you turned 21, gay men have been less subtle with their thirst for you.  I didn’t mean that in an arrogant way. That’s not a thing at all. I mean, I wish people had thirst for me! That would be amazing. It’s just a massive compliment. I can go out with my friends and have an amazing time, whether that’s at a straight or gay club. We always have an amazing time when I’m with people who are gay, who are just so amazing and so flirty as well, which is fun. So, what I was trying to say is that people don’t see me as a baby anymore; they don’t necessarily see me as the youngest member of a boy band. People are seeing me as an adult now for the first time, which is cool.

What’s been your best night at a gay club?  There’s been quite a few really, really amazing ones. I think just ending up in G-A-Y in London, drunk at 4 o’clock in the morning, because I’ve got loads of friends who are gay. It’s just fun and nice, and everyone is up for a good time and fun to be around. It doesn’t matter to me what the company is, whether you’re straight or gay, as long as everyone is happy and in a good place and having a good time. I draw off people’s energy, so as long as people are having a good time, I’ll have a good time as well.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DNCE’s Joe Jonas — the gay interview

 

HyperFocal: 0Why is Joe Jonas talking about whips and leather?

Apart from recalling his experience with both, the answer is simply, because he can. Because the former baby-faced JoBro is all-man now — from his 5 o’clock shadow to his steel physique, which he’s not been shy about showing off.

While making the promotional rounds for his debut as lead singer of Los Angeles-formed collective DNCE, the newly liberated 27-year-old hasn’t merely shifted away from the much-publicized “purity ring” of his youth, taking on a kinky array of topics including porn, boners and penis size — he’s erased its very existence.

Like younger brother Nick, middle sibling Joe wasn’t done destroying any traces of his Disney halo when he freewheeled through our recent talk. Read on as he chats about his fondness for S&M, gay fans who send him pics of their privates and preferring an “older, mature” man play his hypothetical onscreen lover.

Dallas Voice: It’s been surprising to hear you talk so salaciously while promoting this album. But then again, I keep forgetting you’re not 17 anymore.  Joe Jonas: A lot of people do!

What about your current professional life differs from your career as a Jonas Brother?   The biggest difference is the writing. I’m proud of the stuff I did with my brothers, but you grow up and go through a lot of different things, so you may be talking about something very innocent — a first kiss, taking somebody out for the first time — when you’re that age. But cut to when you’re 27, and you’re going through things that are a bit more mature, sexually or what not, and that’s what you’re gonna write about.

A song from your new album, “Be Mean,” is essentially about S&M. Tell me about your decision to be so sexually liberated in your music.  Some people say, “We finally can talk about these kinds of things, and we want to go wild and crazy,” but really, it’s just stuff we’re going through. I feel like I’m free in my life to speak about it, and yeah, everyone should try a little bit of something new in the bedroom. It’s definitely fun when you bring some whips and leather and whatever you may be into — a little bit of S&M — into the bedroom. I wrote it about me and someone I was getting wild with, and maybe [we] busted some outfits out — you know, you get a little crazy. It’s a fun song, and I hope people can have fun with it and learn from it.

What do you want them to learn?  Well… I would love for them to learn that it’s good to try new things.

Maybe you should teach them, Joe.  I’ll do a handbook.

Have your brother, Nick, write the foreword.  Exactly. I expect you to be one of the reviewers.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cocktail Friday: Christmas Party Edition

Museum of Moving Image Presents: Martin Scorsese - An Exhibition - Opening ReceptionInstead of an open bar, or spending your time mixing everyone a specific cocktail, a punch is an easy way to lubricate your Christmas party and provide a center for conversation as well, as you can with this amaretto/cranberry cider.

3 parts Disaronno amaretto

2 parts apple cider

1 part lemon juice

1 part pomegranate juice

1 part cranberries

3 parts prosecco

Making it: Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl and stir lightly; garnish with rosemary springs or other greenery and cranberries.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones