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

HAWAII: Civil Unions Bill Passes Final Hurdle, Passes To Desk Of Governor

Just in from Equality Hawaii!

Equality Hawaii, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, and the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, today applauded the Hawaii legislature for approving civil unions for the second time in ten months. The bill, which was passed in its amended form today by the Hawaii Senate on an 18-5 vote, now heads to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his signature. “We honor and thank the legislature today for their commitment to equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Hawaii, said Alan Spector, co-chair of Equality Hawaii. “For the second time in less than a year, legislators have dedicated themselves to providing dignity and respect to all families in the Aloha State.”

Congratulations Hawaii! Linda Lingle can SUCK IT.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Updates from California and Hawaii

The California Supreme Court justices announced today that they will be issuing an opinion on whether YesOn8.com, the group that successfully pushed for Proposition 8 amending the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage there, has standing to appeal Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.

That announcement further delays the 9th Court of Appeals’ consideration of the appeal in the case that could ultimately end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Further west, news coming out of Hawaii was much more positive, as a bill creating civil unions for same-sex couples  cleared its final legislative hurdle and is headed to the governor’s desk.

Although Republican then-Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed essentially the same bill last July. But current Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said he will sign it into law.

—  admin

BREAKING: Senate advances DADT repeal; final vote set for 2 p.m. Dallas time

In a historic vote that spells an eventual end for the 17-year-old policy, the Senate advanced a standalone bill to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell” on Saturday.

Shortly before 11 a.m. Dallas time, the Senate voted 63-33 to cut off debate on the DADT repeal bill and move to a final vote, which was scheduled for 2 p.m. Dallas time today.

Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison both voted against advancing DADT repeal this morning. Six Republicans joined 45 Democrats and two Indpendents in voting to advance the measure. The six Republicans were Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Mark Kirk of Illinois and George Voinovich of Ohio.

“This vote represents an historic step forward for this country, and it will very likely be a life-changing moment for gay and lesbian troops,” said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and a former multi-lingual Army interrogator who was discharged under DADT. “While we still have a long road ahead, including a final passage vote, the certification process, and a yet-to-be-determined implementation period, those who defend our freedom while living in fear for their careers will finally breathe a sigh of relief tonight, and those who have fallen victim to this policy in years past will finally begin to see true closure and redemption on the horizon.”

More than 13,500 servicemembers have been discharged since DADT became law in 1993. An end to the policy would mean that for the first time in this history of the U.S., gays, lesbians and bisexuals can serve openly in the military.

—  John Wright

California’s Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act (SB 906) A Step Away From Governor’s Desk

Opponents of marriage equality have falsely claimed that allowing same-sex couples to marry will force clergy to violate the tenets of their faiths. This bill should alleviate any concerns that restoring marriage equality will require clergy to perform weddings inconsistent with their faith.

~Geoff Kors, Executive Director of Equality California, regarding the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act (SB 905).

Oh, those optimists at Equality California.

Last week, the California State Assembly voted to approve the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act (SB 906). Thumbnail Link to Equality California's webpage for the Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act (SB 906)Since the California State Senate voted to approve the bill in late May, this bill one State Senate vote away from heading off to Governor Schwarzenegger’s desk.

What is SB 906 designed to do? Per the State Senate’s webpage for SB 906:

This bill distinguishes between civil and religious marriage by clarifying that a civil marriage is established pursuant to a State of California marriage license, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. This bill specifies that no priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination would be required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to the tenets of his/her faith. This bill additionally states that any refusal to solemnize a marriage under that provision shall not affect the tax exempt status of any entity.

One might think most, if not all, social conservatives would be for a bill that specifically guaranteed their First Amendment freedom of religion protections, especially when it came to specific protections for ministers who don’t want to solemnize marriages that they believe are immoral. That, of course, is so not so.

The Baptist Press’s Innocent-Sounding Calif. Bill Could Help Legalize ‘Gay Marriage’, Some Say quotes the California Family Council‘s past Legislative Coordinator, Everett Rice, said this regarding the evils of SB 906.

The concern is over the specific changing of the California statute to create a new class of civil marriage. We are concerned that that’s going to become another avenue of actually changing the definition of marriage itself. That’s been pretty much the focus of Sen. Leno’s and those who support homosexual marriage. Our concern is that the bill incrementally begins the process of doing that. What we’ve seen in the past is that measures like these incrementally try to change whole institutions.

The California Family Council website itself states that their organizationopposes this legislation. This organization — an organization which identifies itself as being associated with Focus on the Familystates why they oppose SB 906:

Existing law defines marriage as a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary.

This bill would instead define the term civil marriage as a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, established pursuant to a State of California marriage license issued by the county clerk, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary.

The bill would also make conforming related changes by changing certain references to marriage to civil marriage.

That said, the California Southern Baptist Convention stated they believe the SB 906 to be “good legislation.” From the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Bill Would Let Clergy Refuse To Marry Gays:

Several religious organizations support the measure, including the California Southern Baptist Convention, which supported Prop. 8. Terry Barone, spokesman for the convention, called it “good legislation.”

“That certainly would seem to add protections for a clergy member who, for whatever reason, might be hesitant to perform a marriage ceremony,” he said.

So, where do you think California Republicans stand on this bill? Per California’s State Senate website, voting against this were Republican assemblymembers Anthony Adams (59th Assembly District), Joel Anderson (77th Assembly District), Bill Berryhill (26th Assembly District), Tom Berryhill (25th Assembly District), Connie Conway (34th Assembly District), Paul Cook (65th Assembly District), Chuck DeVore (70th Assembly District), Jean Fuller (32nd Assembly District), Gaines (4th Assembly District), Martin Garrick (74th Assembly District), Danny Gilmore (30th Assembly District), Curt Hagman (60th Assembly District), Diane Harkey (73rd Assembly District), Kevin Jeffries (66th Assembly District), Steve Knight (36th Assembly District), Dan Logue (3rd Assembly District), Jeff Miller (71st Assembly District), Brian Nestande (64th Assembly District), Roger Niello (5th Assembly District), Jim Nielsen (2nd Assembly District), Norby (72nd Assembly District), Jim Silva (67th Assembly District), Cameron Smyth (38th Assembly District), Audra Strickland (37th Assembly District), Van Tran (68th Assembly District), and Mike Villines (29th Assembly District) all voted against the bill — That’s the entirety of the California Assembly Republican Caucus. The votes from California State Senate Republican Caucus on this bill are in the same vein as the California Assembly Republican Caucus, with the exception of two Republican State Senators (Dave Cox and Tom Harman) who did not have votes recorded on the bill.

One only can wonder how one could actually have worded the freedom of religion protections of SB 906 to satisfy the most right wing portion of the religious right and California’s Republicans. I have a feeling one couldn’t design language that would be satisfactory to these folk.

My personal opinion on this is that the Republican politicians and the furthest right of the religious right would rather hold onto their false freedom of religion and freedom of speech arguments regarding any legislation that remotely deals with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In my opinion, these folk want to make those arguments into the future, even when legislators are trying to directly address those concerns head on.

Mario Guerrero, the Government Affairs Director for Equality California, asked the question Will California’s Republicans stand for religious freedom? We now know the answer to that question, and the answer is “No.”

~~~~~

Further Reading:

* Equality California: California Passes Legislation Strengthening Religious Freedoms

* BCNN1.com: New California Bill Protects Pastors from Performing Homosexual Marriages; but It Could Legalize ‘Homosexual Marriage’ by Calling All Marriages Civil Unions

~~~~~

Related:

* Equality California Sponsors Bill Strengthening Religious Freedoms for Clergy
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright