DSM announces 2012 season

The Dallas Summer Musicals have formally released their next season lineup, although several of the shows — Memphis and The Addams Family,  for instance — were already common knowledge. The full schedule is:

Bring It On! (Feb. 14–26), a new musical based on the film set in the world of competitive cheerleading.

Million Dollar Quarter (March 6–18), a jukebox musical set on the one day in 1956 when newcomers Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins all recorded in the same studio. Gay singer Levi Kriess won a Tony for his performance.

La Cage aux Folles (April 10–22). The recent Tony-winning revival of the musical about drag queens and alternative families.

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles (April 24–29) returns.

Memphis (May 15–27), a fictionalized telling of the integration of the radio in 1950s South won multiple Tony Awards, including best score and musical.

Mamma Mia! (May 29–June 3), the uber-gay ABBA musical, returns yet again for a one-week run.

Peter Pan (July 10-22), the children’s classic with a campy sensibility, once again starring Cathy Rigby.

The Addams Family (Oct. 2–21), the current Broadway hit with gay cred, based on the cartoons and movie/TV franchise, will be the State Fair musical next fall. (This year’s State Fair musical, West Side Story, opens in a few weeks.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

For gay actor Steve McCoy, it’s good to be king

Spamalot has been a boom — and not just to its producers, whose touring production has lasted longer than the actual Crusades (it returns to North Texas next season as part of the Bass Hall Broadway series) — but to its cast. Steve McCoy, the gay actor who plays King Arthur in the production now onstage at Fair Park from Dallas Summer Musicals, is certainly grateful for why prancing around the European countryside in chain mail can do for one’s career.

Mark Lowry, the Dallas Voice contributor and co-founder of TheaterJones.com, interviewed McCoy this week. You can read the full interview here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DSM’s Jenkins wins best presenter award

In my recent interview with Jeff Calhoun, the director of the national tour of 9 to 5: The Musical (which opens tonight at Fair Park), Calhoun praises Dallas Summer Musicals managing director Michael Jenkins as a great friend and mentor.

Well, Calhoun isn’t the only one singing Jenkins’ praises. Last week, Jenkins was awarded the Samuel J. L’Hommedieu Award as “outstanding presenter” by the Broadway League, an 80-year-old trade association of the Broadway industry. The award ceremony was hosted by George Hamilton, who will appear in the DSM’s tour of La Cage aux Folles next year.

Under Jenkins, the DSM has won two Tony Awards (best revival of a play for Boeing, Boeing and best theatrical event for Jay Johnson: My Two and Only) and produced many more hits.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

George Hamilton joins DSM’s tour of ‘La Cage’

George Hamilton

The national tour of the 2010 Broadway revival of the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical La Cage aux Folles, which comes to Dallas Fair Park next year via the Dallas Summer Musicals, has added George Hamilton to the cast. Hamilton will play Georges, the owner of the drag nightclub where his cross-dressing partner, Albin, is the headliner.

Georges was originally played in the current revival by Kelsey Grammar; the part is currently played by Christopher Seiber.

Hamilton is best known for his impossible tan, as well as the movies Where the Boys Are, Love at First Bite and The Godfather Part III. He also appeared in Zorro, the Gay Blade, which as considered a stereotypical portrayal of a gay character, and was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

New season of Lexus Broadway Series to include ‘Hair,’ ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘American Idiot’

Billy Joe Armstrong

Dallas is finally getting some excellent shows … and some familiar ones return … again.

The Lexus Broadway Series, which was launched with the opening of the Winspear Opera House in 2009 as a national tour series to compete with Dallas Summer Musicals, released its new season. It kicks off around Pride Weekend with the revival of Hair (which on Broadway starred Gavin Creel, the openly gay actor who performed at Black Tie Dinner last year). The sexually fluid show has been a staple for 40 years, but the revival was singled out for praise.

That’s followed in December with the return of Les Miserables, a terrific if bombastic mega-musical which nonetheless gets revived a bit too often. (The original 1987 Broadway production closed in 2003 … only to be revived on Broadway again in 2006.) I’m a fan, but even I’ve grown weary of it.

Then things get cookin’ — though we have to wait almost a year. Next March, Dallas finally gets In the Heights, a not-too-gay urban hip-hop musical with a Latin beat about Dominicans living in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. That’s where my family lived when I was a boy; the set of the show was actually the subway stop I used to get off at. The music is phenomenal. It won a lot of Tony Awards in 2008; when I saw it on Broadway, Rosie O’Donnell was sitting next to me.

In May, the music gets even edgier with American Idiot, the rock musical based on the music of the neo-punk band Green Day. Again, not an especially gay show, except that the group is very gay-friendly and frontman Billy Joe Armstrong likes to get naked a lot (pictured). Plus, Tommy Tune told me a few weeks ago it was one of his favorite new shows — an unlikely endorsement, which should intrigue musical enthusiasts.

The series ends with another old saw, Jersey Boys — again, a fun musical that has been around for a while about the founding of the Four Seasons.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Who’s Tommy?

Tommy
TAP, DOG | Tommy Tune’s new act traces his legendary Broadway career — and it all began in Dallas.

Maybe you think you know gay  stage icon Tommy Tune, but even he’s still learning things about himself

…………..

STEPS IN TIME

Fair Park Music Hall, 901 First Ave. March 15–20. $20–$75. DallasSummerMusicals.org.

…………..

When I get Tommy Tune  on the phone for the first time, I finally get to tell him about my three Tommy encounters: One was on Broadway when he appeared in My One and Only; one was in his one-man show Tommy Tune Tonight! at Fair Park Music Hall; but the first time was in the locker room of the Watergate Hotel where we were both staying. He was changing clothes after a swim. And I confess to him my 30-year secret: That I saw his naked ass.

“How’d it look?” he hoots with an excited cackle. “Great!” I tell him. “Well, you know dancers,” he says with a flirtatious laugh.
This dancer just turned 72 — a number that rather delights Tune: “If you add together 7 and 2, it equals nine. And nine has always been a lucky number for me.”

It has indeed. Tune directed and choreographed the original stage musical Nine, and has won an astonishing nine Tony Awards in four categories over his 50-year stage career — a career that launched, in several ways, here in North Texas.

“I began at the Dallas Summer Musicals,” says the Texas native, whose sister still lives in Fort Worth.“I got my Equity card there. John Rosenfield, who was the king of culture [in Dallas for decades], reviewed my first professional job in Redhead with Taina Elg. In the last paragraph of the review, he wrote: ‘We cannot let this report pass without mentioning Tommy Tune, who handles his incredible long form with grace control and power.’ That was the energy that sent me to New York. I had the courage after that. And I just linked that up.”

Where he links that up is in his new one-man showcase, Steps in Time, which opens Tuesday on the same stage where Tune got his start.

“Everything I do in Steps in Time is the truth,” says Tune. “I’ve done four acts and this one is the most personal and the purest and it works better than the others. It doesn’t have the glitz, but there’s depth.”

It’s also a work in progress. Tune has performed it about 100 times so far, but often in one- or two-night stands; he’ll be in Dallas a week, and the version includes new material he’s only recent added. It also has the added bonus of getting him back to his Texas roots.

“I still like to get my feet in the Texas mud, which is different than all other muds,” he says.

Tune kicks off his show with his arrival in New York on St. Patrick’s Day 1962. His beginnings were auspicious: He auditioned for a show and got the job on the spot. That led to dozens  more shows as an actor (Seesaw, which won him his first Tony), director and choreographer (Grand Hotel, Nine, The Will Rogers Follies). But he’s loathe to choose a favorite experience.

“I’m gonna have to answer the next one will be my favorite,” he says. “Every show I’ve done, I’m not satisfied with. But there is a sense of dissatisfaction that keeps you marching.”

Still, he coos about many of the talents he’s worked with over the years. Raul Julia “was a dream.” With Julia and Keith Carradine he recalls “not one bad moment. It’s so easy for an actor to give a director problems. Actors can be quite contrary. But these two guys worked for the good of the show.” And there was the great Vaudeville hoofer Charles ‘Honi’ Coles, whom Tune co-starred with in My One and Only and who “was the best dancer that I ever worked with. He taught me more than anybody. And when I worked with him he was 76, so he’s still got a few years on me.”

Tune recounts one joyful memory about appearing with Coles: They performed a number together — a charming soft-shoe — that on opening night led to a tumult of uncontrollable applause. It literally stopped the show.

“I was just gobsmacked,” he says. “I leaned over to Charles and said, ‘What should we do?’ He smiled up and said, ‘Let’s do it again.’ So I just broke the fourth wall like you don’t do and said, ‘Let’s take it again from the top of the dance.’ We did it! I just thought, ‘That’s opening night — everything’s up for grabs.’But we did over 1,000 performances together and we never failed to stop the show — it happened every night! It’s when that magic thing happens, when the audience takes control of the show, that you love like theater.”

Which is exactly what Tune didn’t enjoy about one aspect of his career: Making movies. Tune kicked off his film career with a prime role opposite Barbra Streisand in the Oscar-nominated adaptation of Hello, Dolly! but he quickly soured on Hollywood.

“I hated making movies,” he says. “My whole thing is about the audience connection. In movies, you are not performing for the crew but for a machine — the camera — or yourself. It was just so unfulfilling. You never get the joy of performing a number. After Hello, Dolly! they put me in a couple episodes of Nanny and the Professor but I was burning to be back on Broadway. I asked them, will you let me out of that deal? Off I went, and fast!”

And he’s still returning to it — as a performer, director and a patron. His favorite recent shows? Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and American Idiot.

“Those are my two favorites. And it worries me that neither has found their audience but both speak to now, but work through then. [The lead in Andrew Jackson] is so good, I saw it four times. It made me laugh so hard. Maybe it was a mistake that they moved it to Broadway, but it was better than the off-Broadway version. They really sharpened it. American Idiot is highlight. I was new to Green Day — I don’t usually do anything more contemporary than the ’50s — and they just knocked me out. I’m so grateful I’ve got to do this with my life. But we need to still be respectful of our fabulous invalid called the theater.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Dallas Summer Musicals announces 2011 season

The Dallas Summer Musicals’ big State Fair production will be the recent revival of West Side Story, complete with Spanish-language rewrites, as well as a few other revivals, returns … and one new show.

The season kicks off with gay Texan Tommy Tune, the biggest Tony winner of all time. in Tommy Tune Steps in Time with the Manhattan Rhythm Kings. for a one-week run beginning March 15. That will be followed by the return of another dance show, Burn the Floor, for two weeks in April.

The official summer season begins May 18 with the recent Dolly Parton musical of 9 to 5, followed by the returns of Stomp and Monty Python’s Spamalot in June and Guys and Dolls in July.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Applause • That’s so gay

Queer connections infiltrate lots of the upcoming season of arts

Tony Award-winning gay baritone Paulo Szot
Tony Award-winning gay baritone Paulo Szot, above, is a coup for the Dallas Opera; Pink Martini, below, gets the Meyerson jumping as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s guest next week.

When you have a gay theater company (as Dallas does in Uptown Players) and another troupe dedicated to bringing Broadway musicals to town (as Dallas Summer Musicals does), you can be pretty confident in finding gay appeal in the lively arts.

But cast your gaze — and your gays — outside the usual focus, and there a lot more to discover across the arts in North Texas this season.

Chief among the highlights: The Dallas Opera’s coup in snagging dreamy gay baritone Paulo Szot, who won a much-deserved Tony for the revival of South Pacific, in the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Oct. 22). Director Stephen Lawless returns to helm Anna Bolena (Oct. 29). DallasOpera.org.

Of course, Uptown Players and DSM are getting into the action with their upcoming shows as well. UP’s final production of their 2010 season is the American premiere of Closer to Heaven, written to the songs of the Pet Shop Boys. The musical drama opens Oct. 1 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater. The group will announce its 2011 season on Tuesday. UptownPlayers.org. And DSM’s national tour of Shrek is the State Fair Musical this year, opening Sept. 28. DallasSummerMusicals.org.

Next week, Theatre Three produces the local premiere of Songs from an Unmade Bed, a song cycle about a gay man working his way through a relationship. In previews from Sept. 3 in the Theatre Too space. Also in Theatre Too: Bruce R. Coleman’s latest play, the puppet show Tales from Mount Olympus, and spring welcomes Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them by Christopher Durang. Next up on the main stage is Laramie Project creator Moises Kaufman’s 33 Variations, followed in December by the local premiere of The Drowsy Chaperone. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Contemporary Theatre of Dallas continues its presentation of Ed Graczyk’s world premiere Texas-set comedy-drama with a gay twist, Blue Moon Dancing, which runs through Sept. 12. Its 2010–11 season kicks off in October, and includes plays directed by Rene Moreno (The Trip to Bountiful) and Michael Serrecchia (Cheaters), plus a play by gay playwright Alan Ball (Five Women Wearing the Same Dress). ContemporaryTheatreofDallas.com.

The Dallas Theater Center launches its new season next month with the company’s gay artistic director Kevin Moriarty’s adaptation of Henry IV (opens Sept. 11).  The season ends with the musicals Cabaret and The Wiz. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

WaterTower Theatre begins its season with its artistic director, Terry Martin, directing and starring in Our Town (previewing on Sept. 24), and closes the season with Howard Ashman’s camptastic Little Shop of Horrors in July. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

Pink Martini
Pink Martini

Bass Hall brings in Spring Awakening on Nov. 9–10, followed by Mamma Mia, A Chorus Line, Beauty and the Beast and 9 to 5 later in the season. BassHall.org. In Dallas, the Lexus Broadway Series includes Young Frankenstein (Jan. 4) and Billy Elliot (June 8), while TITAS starts with MOMIX (Sept. 10) and the return of Complexions Contemporary Ballet (May 11). ATTPAC.org. The Dallas Black Dance Theatre stages a dance by local legend Bruce Wood in the spring as well (see story Page S6).

It’s not just opera and theater that goes gay, either: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra welcomes queer-led bank Pink Martini on Sept. 3, and The Music of Michael Jackson starts Sept. 1. DallasSymphony.org.

Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Applause • Shrek’s appeal

Jason Moore, the gay Broadway director of this year’s State Fair musical, promises something for everyone — and he means everyone

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer

Director Jason Moore
Director Jason Moore works his magic on fairy tales and flatulence in this fall’s ‘Shrek the Musical.’

Dallas Summer Musicals, Music Hall at Fair Park
909 First Ave. Shrek the Musical runs Sep. 28 through Oct. 17. Tuesdays–Sundays, 8 p.m., weekend matinees 2 p.m. $25–$133. 214-631-2787.
DallasSummerMusicals.org.

Flatulence makes the heart grow fonder. That’s just one of the irreverent messages at the center of a musical comedy with a surprising amount of emotional resonance — hidden beneath a grand dose of silliness, of course. Shrek the Musical, about an ogre and a donkey on a quest to save a princess in a land of famous fairy tale characters, began as a beloved children’s book before becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises. So bringing it to the Broadway stage — and then on a national tour — meant the stakes were high both with audiences and producers.

“If people love something already, they’re protective of it and they want it to live up to their memory and expectations of what they love about the movie or the book. We deliver what people love, but deliver a bunch of stuff that people have never seen,” says Jason Moore, co-director (with Rob Ashford) of the original Broadway and the national touring productions.

“We don’t think of it as a cartoon. The movie is only 80 minutes long and our show is two hours with an intermission. There are elements directly lifted from the film and then a whole bunch of new stuff, like the score. The movie is not a musical, unlike some of the other adaptations of cartoons that were musicals to begin with. Keeping the familiar look from the movie helps people get used to the fact that they’re hearing music now.”

The sets are colorful and wonderfully elaborate, which isn’t often the case with a touring production.

“The task of making something so it can travel makes you come up with more fun, creative and imaginative ways to solve bigger problems.

That’s why I think tours in some ways tend to be better versions of the shows they reflect, because they’re a little more distilled down to the story,” he says. “Though the tour of Shrek is a huge production, it’s distilled down from Broadway a bit, but still huge. It’s a fairy tale. You need size and scale and fantasy.”

Moore, who also directed the Tony-winning Avenue Q, has a long history directing musicals and comedies. But with Shrek he could quickly be the go-to guy for snarky musicals featuring puppets.

“Ha!” he laughs. “The puppets [in Shrek] couldn’t be more different. There are several puppets in the national tour, but we have this big new beautiful dragon puppet, which is like 24 feet long and magnificent. It flies and there’s a whole new dragon number. Puppets are magical and it’s so great in Shrek because the scale is so huge.”

The fairy-tale world also opens up a lot of new challenges for a director because suddenly, you’re dealing with a menagerie of characters that aren’t human.

“The ogres need to move like ogres, the donkey needs to seem like a donkey. In some ways, everyone is a version of a kind of puppet. They have to manipulate their costumes and their bodies just like a dancer would, like in The Lion King or Little Mermaid. It’s a lot of fun for the actors. To choreograph for a donkey, a dancing egg and a gingerbread man is a challenge, but a rare gift,” he smiles.

Perhaps even more rare is a musical number involving the delicate subject of, well, breaking wind.

“I like to think that we are the first and maybe last. It is a song about farting, but it’s based on an old theater convention: Anything you can do, I can do better. The song at its essence is really about two characters who are falling in love with each other. A lot of times when people fall in love, it’s not based in language. It’s based in kind of awkward physicality. Farting and burping is just our version of it because we’re dealing with ogres. It’s indigenous to their behavior.”

The deeper message at the center of Shrek is something he hopes resonates with anyone who, like the big green ogre, has ever been an outcast.

Shrek the musical
Shrek and Donkey create a new family of choice when they meet Princess Fiona

“It’s definitely a fairy tale world that runs by different rules. There’s a song in Act 2 called Freak Flag, which basically is the message of the show. Love who you are and others will love you,” he says. “As a gay man myself, I think that can be said of any human, but particularly true of gay humans. Shrek is essentially an outcast and we were often mindful of people who would be considered outcasts, from redheads to gays to other minorities to people who had awkward teeth. Certainly I’d like to think there is something special in it for gay people.”

But ultimately, it’s about bringing something to the stage for people of all ages and all backgrounds. Shrek, he says, is about exploring universal truths — with a lot of laughs along the way. And most of all, it’s about bringing to the stage something you can’t experience anywhere else.

“You have to ask, what can you do in the theater that you can’t do in the movies? That’s what we deliver. On the road, in any theater, audiences are seeing a show for the first time and we always want to give them as much magic as we can.”
Cue the singing mice and flying dragons.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local briefs • 08.06.10

RCD names new board members

Chuck MarLett and Linda Moore were elected by current board members to join the Resource Center Dallas board of directors during the board’s monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 2.

MarLett is a former vice president and associate general counsel for AMR Corporation, the parent company of Fort Worth-based American Airlines. He was one of the founders of the airline’s LGBT resource group, GLEAM, and served as its senior officer advisor.

MarLett is also a former co-chair of the board for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, was a founding member and director of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas and served on the boards Dallas Summer Musicals and Dallas Theater Center. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from Wharton and a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Moore is a former board member of the center who served on the center’s finance committee for five years and was board president from October 2005 to March 2008. She is also the co-chair of the center’s capital campaign.

Moore is a commercial litigation attorney with K&L Gates in Dallas and also served as a board member for Elder Power. Her passion for cocker spaniels led her to serve in several board positions for the American Spaniel Club and American Spaniel Club Foundation, and a black cocker spaniel she owns is currently one of the top 10 dogs in the country.

Gramick to speak in Dallas

Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministries, and Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, will be the featured guest speakers about the movement for equality for LGBT people in society and the Catholic Church on Wednesday, Aug. 11, from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St.

Gramick, who joined the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the 1960s, obtained her masters degree from the Catholic school in 1969 and later earned her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. While there, Gramick became friends with a gay man, and that friendship led her to begin ministries within the church for lesbians and gays.

Gramick eventually helped create three organizations for lesbian and gay Catholics, including, with Fr. Robert Nugent, New Ways Ministries.

However, in 2000 after more than 20 years of working with the LGBT community, Gramick was ordered by the School Sisters of Notre Dame — under orders from the Vatican’s Congregation For the Doctrine of Faith, which accused Gramick of having made grave doctrinal errors — to end her work and not speak publicly on LGBT issues.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens