‘Carol’ charming

The lion, the ghost and the wardrobe changes of Carol-er David Ryan Smith

DTCs-The-Wiz

FROM OZ TO DICKENS | David Ryan Smith got a chance to work at both DTC home bases in 2011, playing the Cowardly Lion in ‘The Wiz’ at the Wyly, and now multiple roles in ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Kalita. (Photos courtesy David Leggett and Karen Almond)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

David Ryan Smith isn’t a Dallas native, he just seems to play one onstage.

The  New York-based actor has made the Dallas Theater Center almost a second home in 2011 — first playing the Cowardly Lion in last summer’s The Wiz (one of the triumvirate of friends of Dorothy, along with the Tin Man and Scarecrow, who stole the show), and currently in several roles, most notably the

Ghost of Christmas Present, in DTC’s annual revival of A Christmas Carol.

So what accounts for his sudden honorary Texan status? Even he doesn’t know.

“I’d never even been to Texas until this summer,” he says. He grew up in Asheville, N.C., before attending school in Indiana and later San Francisco; he moved to New York six years ago. But he “had a great time” here.

Really?! He liked spending a record-settingly sweltering summer in a furry lion suit? Well, yeah, kinda.

“I’m not a big musical-theater actor, but I’d always wanted to do The Wiz,” he says. He’d auditioned for the DTC before when the company held casting calls in NYC, but actor and part never quite clicked before. Still, he agreed to assist the casting director, helping read other actors for parts. Then the casting director suggested he would be right for the Lion. DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty agreed, and his Texas tour was on its way.

“The Theater Center is great — the facility and the people. And working with the Dallas Black Dance Theater was amazing, they are all so talented.” He even became friends with his Wiz co-star Liz Mikel, who is in New York right now preparing for her Broadway debut in Lysistrata Jones.

But Smith also wanted to work with DTC’s Joel Ferrell. “Liz and Cedric [Neal] told me, work with him if you can,” he says. So when Ferrell returned this year to direct A Christmas Carol again, Smith jumped at the chance.

It actually wasn’t his first experience with DTC’s annual holiday show — Smith had worked in San Francisco with former DTC associate Jonathan Moscone, who mounted a version of Christmas Carol in the 1990s. “He was really proud of that show,” Smith says.

So what’s it like staying in the holiday spirit 10 times a week since Halloween? Not as hard as you might imagine, Smith says.

“We do original music, not the same old Christmas carols you hear everywhere, so at least it doesn’t make you cranky,” he says. “And wearing those boots [as the Ghost of Christmas Present] takes you into a whole other reality. I see my job in that role as forcing [Kurt Rhoads, who plays Scrooge] into changing. Kurt’s a wonderful acting partner.”

An even better partner is Smith’s boyfriend of five years, Josh. How do they handle Smith being on the road so much?

“It’s part of the job,” he sighs. “Usually he comes to visit, but because of how the holidays fall this year, he won’t get down here, though he visited during

The Wiz. And actually it makes the time we spend together all the better.”

That’s the way to stay in the holiday spirit — especially for a man playing a holiday spirit.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Sex in the city

bedpostladies
TALK DIRTY TO ME | Three of the four creators of ‘Bedpost Confessions,’ including Sadie Smythe, far left, are bisexual, giving a ‘pansexual’ bent to many of the sexy admissions.

‘Bedpost Confessions’ moves sex talk from the closet into Oak Cliff

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

What would you do if your friend admitted to  being a prostitute? Or if your sister talked about having sex outside of her marriage with a 21-year-old virgin? Sexual talk outside of the bedroom can still be taboo, even in today’s desensitized world of fast hookups and Showtime melodramas. Bring up intercourse (or something far more intense), and most people will cringe or shy away.

Not Sadie Smythe. She says that such fear stems from shame, and she’s on a quest to change that.

“We do it because there’s this puritanical mindset pervading our culture,” Smythe says. “We want to start a conversation about sex and sexuality. It’s a pleasurable experience for people and that’s part of why we do it.”

Smythe is co-creator of the Austin-based show Bedpost Confessions, a sort of Vagina Monologues series of admissions and detailed sexual experiences featuring a roster of participants. Bedposts’ first- ever performance outside of Austin comes to Oak Cliff July 21.

“I thought Dallas should be our first stop as a good jumping off point,” says Smythe, a Dallas native. “Depending on how many people show up, we’ll be in the upstairs room at the Kessler. That’s such a great place and right in the middle of all that cool stuff.”

She could be surprised. Although current RSVPs are modest, if it plays out like her first show, that could change dramatically. Smythe expected about 20 people to Confessions’ debut and 60 showed up, crammed into a small space. Now the monthly event brings in close to 400 people — all there to talk about (and listen to others talk about) sex. With such a growth, the show plans for events in San Francisco and Boston.

Does that mean America is ready to shout out their sexcapades to the masses? Smythe hopes so.

“The more sex is taboo the more shame that surrounds it. I see that as a problem,” she says. “My feeling is that kids have a hard time understanding what sex and sexuality is about. Parents don’t feel comfortable because of the shame so kids go into their formative sexual years inadvertently hurting each other. Shame creates harm and we aim to take that harm out of the picture. So we just talk about it.”

She describes Confessions as pansexual because all perspectives are reflected and embraced. Local performer Roy G. Bivs is a gay man who talks about a time in Japan when he partook in prostitution to pay the bills. Smythe, who is bisexual, has publicly discussed her open marriage in her book Open All the Way. She’ll “confess” to her 21-year- old virginal conquest.

“My mother will be at this show so she’s gonna get an earful,“ Smythe laughs. “But it’s educational. That’s part of the beauty of it. Confessions takes you out of your own experience and other people can encourage flight.”
The audience can even confess their own sins, er … “experiences.”

“The hallmark of the show is the confessions,” she says. “Although we highly curate these shows and make sure they are smart, funny and entertaining we add an element of interaction that’s unpredictable.”

Those that go to a Confessions show are given a card to come clean about that which gets them off. Without names, the cards are read aloud during the show. (A sampling are on the show’s website.) Smythe says there’s a cathartic element to opening up.

“The audience notes are usually funny, but it also unifies the group as they all engage in it,” she says. “Sometimes they’ll even inspire discussion and ultimately, it’s a really fun and sexy show.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 15, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Drawing Dallas

With interests ranging from science to hip-hop to cross-dressing, Anthony Ray is a study in diversity

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Anthony Ray, 19

Spotted along: Buckner Boulevard and Military Parkway, Pleasant Grove

Occupation: Food industry; student

Nature and nurture: A lively and vivacious Aries, Anthony is the baby in his family, and made the courageous and life-changing decision to come out at 15. His nurturing nature, along with an interest in math and science, has lead Anthony to pursue a career as a medical assistant, for which he is currently studying. This Dallas native has spent his entire life in the Big D and loves to hip-hop dance and sing R&B.

Budding Drag Racer? Anthony is in touch with his feminine side and occasionally likes to dress in women’s clothes and paint his toenails. “I couldn’t wait to get out of my mama’s house to put on girl clothes.” His two best girlfriends, Trice and Red, support him fully, often helping him do his hair and providing fashion assistance.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright