Applause: Stage pink

Queer highlights from the upcoming theater season

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Anticipation should be strong for the upcoming theater season in general. Ambitious shows like Giant, The Tempest, West Side Story and Hairspray all dot the stage horizon.
But we also like to see some of our own up there. As we look over the upcoming offerings from local theater companies, we always ask, “Where’s the gay?”  In addition to Uptown Players’ first  Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, here are some of the others.

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Fall

Although the Dallas Opera canceled the opera she was set to star in, lesbian soprano Patricia Racette will still perform at a TDO gala. (Photo Devon Cass)

Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik gave an indie music flair to the musical adaptation of the 1891 play Spring Awakening. Set in 19th century Germany, Awakening follows a group of youths as they discover more about themselves and their rapidly developing sexuality.

The original Frank Wedekind play was controversial in its day, depicting abortion, homosexuality, rape and suicide. Now the show just has an added rock ‘n’ roll score. Along with Sheik’s musical perspective, Steven Slater wrote the book and lyrics in this updated version which debuted in 2006 on Broadway and won the Tony for Best Musical. Terry Martin directs.

WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road., Addison. Sept. 30–Oct. 23. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

It’s almost un-Texan if you’re gay and not familiar with Del Shores’ tales of Southern discomfort.  Southern Baptist Sissies and Sordid Lives are pretty much part of the queer vernacular in these parts, but Shores got his start way back in 1987.

How will those northern folks take to Shores work (And by north, we mean past Central Expressway past LBJ)? Jeni Helms directs Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will for McKinney Repertory Theatre this fall. As the family patriarch suffers a stroke, the Turnover family gathers as they wait for his death. This family may just put the fun in dysfunctional.

McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Sept. 30–Oct. 7. McKinneyRep.org.

WingSpan Theatre Co. will produce one of the greater comedies of theater-dom this fall: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Nancy Sherrard sparring over the gay wit’s price bon mots as Lady Bracknell.

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Oct. 6–22. WingSpanTheatre.com.

Although A Catered Affair might sound a bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it has the added flair of Harvey Fierstein’s wit. That’s because he wrote the book for the show alongside John Bucchino’s music and lyrics. The play is based on the Gore Vidal-penned 1956 film The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis.

When Jane and Ralph decide to get married, Jane’s mom Agnes wants to put on an elaborate spectacle of a wedding. The truth is, she can’t afford it and Jane isn’t all too thrilled about a huge affair. As in most cases, the wedding planning is more about the mom than the daughter and Agnes soon realizes the fact. Jane’s Uncle Winston — the proverbial gay uncle — is left off the guest list and is rightfully pissed. But as most gay characters, he rallies to be the voice of reason and support.

Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street, Ste.168. Oct. 13–Nov. 12. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Lesbian soprano Patricia Racette was going to be featured in the production of Katya Kabanová but unfortunately the show was canceled by the Dallas Opera. But fear not. Dallas will still get to bask in the greatness that is her voice as Racette will perform An Evening with Patricia Racette, a cabaret show with classics from the Great American Songbook for a patron recital.

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Nov. 9. DallasOpera.org

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Spring

Nancy Sherrard will star as Lady Bracknell in WIngSpan Theater Co.’s fall production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ perhaps the greatest comedy ever written by theaterdom’s gayest wit.

Kevin Moriarty directs Next Fall for the Dallas Theater Center next spring. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play centers on Luke and Adam, a couple with some unusual issues. What’s new about that in gay couplehood? Not much, but when Adam’s an absolute atheist and Luke’s a devout Christian, the two have been doing their best to make it work.
The comedy played on Broadway in 2010, garnering Tony and Drama Desk nominations. And now Dallas gets to see how, as DTC puts it, “relationships can be a beautiful mess.”
Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. April 13–May 6. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Perhaps the most surprising queer offering this next season is Theatre Arlington’s production of The Laramie Project. The show usually creates quite a stir — at least it did in Tyler, thanks to Trinity Wheeler — so how will this suburban audience handle it? Doesn’t matter. Props to T.A. for taking Moises Kaufman’s play about the tragic bashing and death of Matthew Shepard to its community.

Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St., Arlington. May 18–June 3. TheatreArlington.org.

Usually the question with MBS Productions is “what’s not gay?” Founder Mark-Brian Sonna has consistently delivered tales of gay woe and love that are sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always a laugh.

This season is no different. Playwright Alejandro de la Costa brings back drag queen Lovely Uranus in The Importance of Being Lovely. The last time we saw Uranus, Sonna wore the stilettos and pink wig in last season’s Outrageous, Sexy, (nekkid) Romp.  This time around, Uranus graduates to leading lady status as the show is all about her as audiences follow her through the changes she makes in her make-up, wigs and men.

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. July 16–Aug. 11, 2012. MBSProductions.net.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Frank Rich on ‘gay bashing’ in DC

Frank Rich looks at the gay bashing underway in DC. He addresses the controversy at the National Portrait Gallery over the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s work “A Fire in My Belly.” It was back to the 80s for the Smithsonian. But, Rich brilliantly explains how this is part of a bigger pattern of homophobia that’s alive and well in the nation’s Capitol:

It still seems an unwritten rule in establishment Washington that homophobia is at most a misdemeanor. By this code, the Smithsonian’s surrender is no big deal; let the art world do its little protests. This attitude explains why the ever more absurd excuses concocted by John McCain for almost single-handedly thwarting the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are rarely called out for what they are — “bigotry disguised as prudence,” in the apt phrase of Slate’s military affairs columnist, Fred Kaplan. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has been granted serious and sometimes unchallenged credence as a moral arbiter not just by Rupert Murdoch’s outlets but by CNN, MSNBC and The Post’s “On Faith” Web site even as he cites junk science to declare that “homosexuality poses a risk to children” and that being gay leads to being a child molester.

It’s partly to counteract the hate speech of persistent bullies like Donohue and Perkins that the Seattle-based author and activist Dan Savage created his “It Gets Better” campaign in which gay adults (and some non-gay leaders, including President Obama) make videos urging at-risk teens to realize that they are not alone. But even this humanitarian effort is controversial and suspect in some Beltway quarters: G.O.P. politicians and conservative pundits have yet to participate even though most of the recent and well-publicized suicides by gay teens have occurred in Republican Congressional districts, including those of party leaders like Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence and Kevin McCarthy.

Has it gotten better since AIDS decimated a generation of gay men? In San Francisco, certainly. But when America’s signature cultural institution can be so easily bullied by bigots, it’s another indicator that the angels Keith Haring saw on his death bed have not landed in Washington just yet.

Not yet. For GOPers, it’s blatant homophobia (or for the Lindsey Graham types, it’s internalized homophobia.) I also think for many Democrats (including top White House staffers like Emanuel and Messina), it’s political homophobia.




AMERICAblog Gay

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San Diego, Where Being Called ‘Faggot’ During a Gay Bashing Doesn’t Make It a Hate Crime

Jacob Harshbarger, the San Diego man called a "fucking faggot" during a Halloween gay bashing he suffered while walking his dogs, might see his assailants meet some justice: 23-year-olds Michael Brandon and Christopher Blount have been charged with felony battery counts. Police initially called the attack a matter of "being in the wrong place at the wrong time," and not a hate crime. It appears they're sticking to it: prosecutors aren't levying any hate crime element to the charges.

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Queerty

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Charges Dropped: 3 of 11 Latin King Goonies Gay Bashing Suspects Get Off

Steven Carabello, Bryan Almonte and Brian Cepeda — three men charged in the Bronx's Latin King Goonies gay bashings that left three men brutally assaulted and one man robbed — had charges of robbery, gang assault, and unlawful imprisonment dropped because of insufficient evidence, prosecutors say. That leaves eight remaining suspects in the assault that involved plunger handles, lit cigarettes, and a box cutter.

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Some blatant gay bashing from Rev. Moon’s bankrupt rag

The Washington Times has become a joke. The paper should never have been taken seriously. It was the creation of a Korean cult leader who wanted a say in the conservative agenda. Conservatives gladly acquiesced. Now, it’s on the verge of collapse, facing an “involuntary bankruptcy.” But, the paper is still spewing it venom. And, the Washington Times has always hated the gay:

Pentagon officials have been pretending that they have not already made up their minds on this issue. Generals have issued blanket denials that the conclusions for the forthcoming working group report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have already been decided. It appears that as the White House rams its radical homosexual agenda through the military, too many generals and admirals are willing to sell their brothers in arms down the river if it means they can keep a shiny set of stars on their epaulets.

The destructive force unleashed by the Pentagon’s collaboration with the leftist agenda is apparent from the circus created when homosexual activists like Dan Choi sashayed over to the Times Square recruiting center to make a political point in the short period in which the Phillips order was effective. Leftists are only interested in political points and symbolism here. Providing defense to the nation in the most effective way possible is the furthest thing from their mind. Treating military recruitment primarily as a diversity issue opens up a closet full of absurdities. On what basis, then, would the military discriminate against the elderly? Why can’t grandpa become a paratrooper? Should the military not reject someone merely because he is handicapped? Why not a wheelchair-bound infantryman?

“Sashayed”? The thing speaks for itself. Yes, it’s blatant homophobia. It’s important to know what the other side’s warped arguments are. Cause we’ll be hearing a lot of this anti-gay rhetoric when the Pentagon report comes out and if DADT does come up in the lame duck.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the next gay-themed editorial from the Washington Times encourages anti-gay bullies.




AMERICAblog Gay

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Seven Arrested in Bronx Bashing Spree

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMMembers of the Bronx-based Latin King Goonies street gang went on a brutal gay-bashing spree that led them to sodomize a 17-year-old boy with the wooden handle of a toilet plunger, police said Friday.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright