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.

……………………….

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

………………………….

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

Dallas Opera cancels production with out soprano

To get a handle on its finances, the Dallas Opera announced that it will cancel one of the five scheduled full main-stage productions of next season, and the victim is Katya Kabanova, which was to star out soprano Patricia Racette. In a lengthy press release, the DO explained how the move to the Winspear proved more costly than anticipated, and to “stabilize company finances as rapidly and prudently as possible,” the Russian opera, which was to be the second production of the 2011-12 season, would be canceled. Subscribers will be given a full refund.

This doesn’t mean Dallas won’t get to see Racette perform, however — she is still set to headline a special patron recital in November.

Katya Kabanova was the obvious choice to trim; the other four major productions are among the most popular in the repertoire: Lucia di Lammermoor, Tristan & Isolde, La Traviata and Die Dauberflote (The Magic Flute). A fifth “chamber” opera, which will mark the opera directing debut of DTC’s Kevin Moriarty, will go on as planned.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 04.08

He’ll keep a ‘Light’ on for you
Last year, Jake Heggie brought people back to the opera with the world premiere of his adaptation of Moby Dick. The gay composer works his magic with another world premiere, but for one night only. He and Gene Scheer debut their song cycle A Question of Light, performed by Nathan Gunn, as part of
Unveil: The Dallas Opera 2011 Gala.
DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2301 Flora Way. 8 p.m. $75. DallasOpera.org/gala

 

Saturday 04.09

This comedy isn’t down the tubes
As the Dweeb Girls, rock band The Surly Bitches or pseudo country music sensations Euomi and Wynotta Spudd, comedy team Dos Fallopia works hard for the laughs. The “kamikaze comedy team” of Peggy Platt and Lisa Koch have been at this for 25 years and bring the funny to Fort Worth.
DEETS: Youth Orchestra Hall, 4401 Trail Lake Drive. 8 p.m. $20­–$40. OpenDoorProductionsTx.com.

 

Sunday 04.10

Get hallucinating with ‘Alice’
Nouveau 47 amps up last year’s production of the Lewis Carroll classic by adding more of his work in Alice in Wonderland & Other Hallucinations. We’re glad we get to partake in theater that acts as an hallucinogen rather than taking a pill. So much easier.
DEETS: The Magnolia Lounge, 1121 First Ave. Through April 23. Nouveau47.com

—  John Wright

Out soprano who’ll headline Dallas Opera’s 2011-12 season releases ‘It Gets Better’ video

Patricia Racette

Operatic soprano Patricia Racette released an “It Gets Better” video that she made with her partner, Beth Clayton. They filmed their piece at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

As Arnold Wayne Jones reported last week, Racette will star in the second production of the Dallas Opera’s 2011-12 season, a revival of the company’s 1997 production of Leoš Janáček’s Katya Kabanova, written in 1921. The show runs Oct. 28 and 30, and Nov. 2, 5 and 13.

She will also at the Winspear Opera House in a recital for patrons, the opera announced on Jan. 13:

An exclusive patron recital on November 9, 2011, “A Cabaret Evening with Patricia Racette,” featuring the luminous Ms. Racette performing selections from the Great American Songbook in the intimacy of the Winspear Opera House.

Racette has appeared in Dallas before when she starred as the heroine in the 2004 production of Jenůfa.

—  David Taffet

Dallas Opera announces 2011-12 season, with some gay

The Dallas Opera has announced its lineup for next season, and it offers some particular interest for the gay community.

The season kicks off at the Winspear on Oct. 21 with Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, followed the following week with the Janacek opera Katya Kabanova. The latter will star out soprano Patricia Racette, last seen in Dallas in Janacek’s Jenufa (pictured). Racette, the partner of fellow soprano Beth Clayton, will then perform at the exclusive patron recital on Nov. 9 as the featured cabaret entertainer.

The season continues in February with a staged concert of Tristan und Isolde, directed by out director Christian Rath, who last helmed Beethoven’s Fidelio here in 2002. The season concludes next April with La Traviata and Mozart’s Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Off with her head!

You’d think Anna Bolena, Dallas Opera’s final entry in Donizetti’s Tudor Trilogy, would be as juicy as the story that inspired it: Infidelity, treason, politics, religion, even a beheading! But the only head missing is the one that kept sense how to make the production work as a stage piece.

Denyce Graves’ opening aria, with her distinctive mezzo power, sets a high bar for musicality of the show, which Oren Gradus as Henry VIII, Stephen Costello as Lord Percy and Hasmit Papian as Anne meet.

But aside from a homoerotic stag fight between two shirtless brutes, it drags. The elephantine scenery — a giant set of accordian doors that teeter dangerously during scene changes — and some stodgy, presentational acting (especially the false performance by Elena Belfiore in the “trouser role” as Smeton), rob the opera of its drama. Even a doomed queen deserves more life than this generates. (On the other hand, there’s still time to catch Don Giovanni, which is very much worth a look.)

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Best bets • 10.29.10

Saturday 10.30

Masking your feelings is just fine
We’ve been trying to figure what this year’s number one costume will be. Lady Gaga has provided much inspiration throughout the year, so expect a few meat dresses in the crowd. The Chilean miners were a hot topic and easy to pull off. And lest we forget a good ole Texas Rangers costume. You’ll likely see all three and a whole heckuva lot more at this year’s Oak Lawn Halloween street party.

DEETS:
3900 block of Cedar Springs. 7 p.m. Free.

………………………….

Saturday 10.30

Rugby tourney will drag you to hell
The Dallas Diablos are making a mark on the rugby tournament scene this weekend. The team holds their second Hellfest event, but this year it’s big time. Word of mouth grew on this and the Diablos are expecting to host 160 players repping eight teams from around the country. And that’s all in one day.

DEETS: Lake Highlands Park, 9500 E. Lake Highlands Drive. 9 a.m. Free. DallasDiablos.org.

………………………….

Wednesday 11.03

Don’t lose your head, lady
We all know what happened to Anne Boleyn and it wasn’t pretty. But we bet getting there should be lush and gorgeous in the Dallas Opera’s production of Anna Bolena. Gaetano Donizetti details the queen’s last days who went from beloved wife to second best thanks to that mistress Jane Seymour. Bitch.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7:30 p.m. Through Nov. 14. $25–$215. ATTPAC.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Best bets • 10.22.10

Friday 10.22

Speaking out on arts and AIDS
This month’s Queerly Speaking event brings in rapper, author, poet (and more) Tim’m West in this special Arts and AIDS edition. West uses hip-hop, spoken word and performance art in selections of “Ready Set Grow” where he takes on coming out, race and sexuality and his triumphs and travails in his battle with AIDS.

DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh. 8 p.m. $5. RedDirt.biz.

………………………

Saturday 10.23

These are the good kind of Con men
The Art Conspiracy people call what they do street-level philanthropy. We call it greatness. The annual event raises money for nonprofits with this year’s proceeds going to Today Marks the Beginning which educates children on non-violence through art. If that’s not enough, then the reasonably priced art and local live bands will make the night more worthwhile.

DEETS: Art Con Warehouse, 511 W. Commerce St. 7 p.m. $10. ArtConspiracy.org.

………………………

Wednesday 10.27

Hump day with a major hottie
Mozart’s Don Giovanni still gets us verklempt thanks to hottie baritone Paulo Szot. He plays the legendary Don Juan in this Dallas Opera production following his Metropolitan Opera debut. And he’s a Tony award winner. He’s got major cred to go with those swoony bedroom eyes.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7:30 p.m. Through Nov. 7. $25–$400. ATTPAC.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Hot Szot

Swoon-worthy gay baritone Paulo Szot injects tons of sex appeal in Dallas Opera’s pulpy ‘Don Giovanni’

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

DON’T YOU WISH YOUR BOYFRIEND WAS HOT LIKE HIM  |  As Mozart’s antihero sex maniac, Paulo Szot gets to woo many women onstage. But the baritone mostly just misses his dogs and partner of 10 years, who are back in Brazil. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
DON’T YOU WISH YOUR BOYFRIEND WAS HOT LIKE HIM | As Mozart’s antihero sex maniac, Paulo Szot gets to woo many women onstage. But the baritone mostly just misses his dogs and partner of 10 years, who are back in Brazil. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

DON GIOVANNI
Winspear Opera House,
2403 Flora St. Oct. 22–Nov. 7.
Tickets from $25.
DallasOpera.org

…………………………..

If you ever wanted to know how important casting is to the success of a play or an opera, consider this: If Don Giovanni, the most notorious lover in history, isn’t swoon-worthy onstage, there’s no chance an audience will lose itself in fantasy.

That is not a problem when you have Paulo Szot in the role. Szot effortlessly smolders with swagger and charm. In leather pants and pencil moustache, his chest heaving from under an iridescent cape, he looks like a superhero from the 1940s.

That’s fine with John Pascoe, the director and designer of this production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni — he wants you to think of a pulp romance novel cover when you see it.

“He’s like George Brent or Errol Flynn,” says Jonathan Pell, artistic director of the Dallas Opera, marveling at Szot’s graceful charisma. You totally understand how Don Giovanni was able to woo so many women.

In person, Szot himself is as compelling as his character, but disarmingly humble. And he’s not a womanizer at all — he and his partner have been together 10 years, sharing their home on the edge of the Brazilian rainforest with their four Weimaraners.

“I built that house three years ago — it is my dream home,” Szot says, eyes twinkling. “But I get to stay there, like 10 days. I miss my dogs, but I talk to them on Skype. They listen to me.”

It would be difficult not to listen when Szot talks — or sings. One of the most gifted baritones of his generation, Szot rocketed to international fame when he took on the role of Emile de Becque, the reclusive plantation owner who falls for an American farmgirl, in Lincoln Center’s 2008 revival of South Pacific. Szot won a Tony and the hearts of everyone who heard him sing “Some Enchanted Evening” and, even more thrillingly, “This Nearly Was Mine.”

“The main song [for Emile] is ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ but somehow ‘This Nearly Was Mine’ became the 11 o’clock number,” Szot acknowledges. “It was magical for me; I’m very glad so many people liked it.”

Szot — already an in-demand opera star — was originally scheduled for only a six-month run in the role due to opera commitments, but extended it to more than two years (with brief departures for opera gigs), appearing only recently in a TV simulcast on PBS’ Live from

Lincoln Center. His appearance with the Dallas Opera represents his first full opera performance since leaving Broadway, although in between he pursued another dream: Singing at the Carlyle Hotel in New York.

“That was very new for me,” Szot says. “I’ve always wanted to sing songs I would sing to my friends in my house. It was so intimate, and in such a famous place. I’m coming back in February.”

From opera to musical theater to cabaret, Szot wants to do it all — and so far, he seems to be succeeding. Though the skill sets are different, he sees the line between these musical art forms blurring.

“The biggest difference [between opera and Broadway] is the number of performances. In opera, you rely on your throat and can’t sing eight shows a week. But microphones allow some control — that’s a wonderful thing. And Emile only has like 14 minutes of singing, though he’s constantly onstage, and there’s the dialogue.”

Szot agreed to do South Pacific not only for the Broadway experience, but also to tackle one of the few leading-man parts for a baritone; tenors usually get to be the hero. But ultimately, Szot’s fine with the more villainous parts. He concedes that Don Giovanni doesn’t get the best numbers in the show, but there are other benefits.

“I think those characters, not the good guys, are more interesting,” he says. “They are more colorful — particularly the Mozart ones.”

This production has captured even his attention. He’s enchanted by the costumes and the direction, and says he’s bringing many of the skills he learned in two years of South Pacific to the role.

“I’ve always wanted to do different kinds of music — I didn’t grow up choosing between one another. The techniques differ from singing before 200 in a cabaret and 4,000 in The Metropolitan. But it’s all a dream come true for me.”

Trust us, Paulo — we’re livin’ the dream with you.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas Opera is looking for some muscle hunks; naturally, they came to us

The P.R. department of the Dallas Opera reached out to me with a request from Stephen Lawless, the gay director of their upcoming production of Anna Bolena. Seems as if he wants two male deer to lock antlers and battle each other in the forest. But the zoo is not accommodating him. So here’s the request as pitched to me:

“two well-defined muscular men of impressive size to be two stags with antlers wrestling onstage shirtless and barefoot.”

I have to say, I’m intrigued. 

Naturally, as I will be reviewing the show, I had to decline. But I know our readers include dozens of men who fit the bill, and some must wanna get up on the Winspear and preen a little. Especially anyone who didn’t get into Equus earlier this year.

If you’re interested, e-mail Tai.Renfrow@dallasopera.org. And e-mail me, You know, just because.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones