The gay interview: Andrew Rannells of “The New Normal”

I met Andrew Rannells on two occasions. The first was a strange circumstance about five years ago: I was headed to the Fair Park Music Hall to meet him and other members of the touring cast of Jersey Boys when my car was T-boned (the other driver’s fault). Nevertheless, I still made it to the interview, albeit a bit late. I got quite a few “attaboys” for showing up at all.

The last was just briefly about two and a half years ago, when he was starring in a show at the Dallas Theater Center called Give It Up. The show finally made it Broadway with a different title — Lysistrata Jones — only Rannells wasn’t in it. Instead, he’d taken on a different role in a musical: The Book of Mormon, which netted him a Tony Award nomination in the biggest hit since The Producers.

ATTPAC just announced last week that The Book of Mormon would be part of its 2013-14 lineup, but once again, Rannels won’t be in it — instead, he’s starring in one of the hit shows of the fall, NBC’s The New Normal, and out actor gets to play gay … and boy does he.

Our Chris Azzopardi got to chat with Rannells a few weeks ago, and I thought it might be a good time to run the story. The next episode airs tonight.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Emmy noms: Some of the gay stuff

The Emmy nominations came out this morning, and the details of them can be hashed over in the coming month, but I wanted to point out a few gay interest items on the list:

• Modern Family continues to dominate the comedy category, with the entire adult cast again snagging nominations, as well as for directing, writing, comedy series and guest actor/comedy Greg Kinnear.

• Once again, officially out actor Jim Parsons looks like the sure thing for actor/comedy for The Big Bang Theory, unless 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin makes a comeback. His co-star Mayim Bialik was also nominated, but not Johnny Galecki. The show is also up for best comedy series.

• American Horror Story, created by Glee mastermind Ryan Murphy, was nominated in the miniseries category, including nods for miniseries, actress/mini Connie Britton, supporting actor/mini for gay thesp Denis O’Hare and two for supporting actress/mini — Frances Conroy and shoo-in winner Jessica Lange.

• Game of Thrones is again in contention, though only last year’s winner — Peter Dinklage for supporting actor/drama — is nominated for acting. The show has lots of nudity (including men!) and this last season a great gay storyline.

• One of the most welcome nominations was for Kathryn Joosten, who died just days after her touchingly hard-scrabble performance on Desperate Housewives ended with her death, was nominated for supporting actress/comedy. She’d won twice before in the guest actress category. Not in the supporting category? Previous winner Jane Lynch of Glee; Chris Colfer of Glee was also overlooked.

• The reality competition program continues to play it safe — in the history of the category, The Amazing Race has won every year except one, when Top Chef sneaked in. When will RuPaul — the show and the host — get the credit she deserves?!?!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘Glee Project’ season 2

The whole idea of The Glee Project is just so… so… meta. That’s not surprising — Glee is itself as much a mash-up of culture as the songs it performs. On the Project, average kids (Gleeks all) compete a la American Idol for the reward: A guest arc on next season.

Part of the appeal of Glee has always been its empowering sensibility: The characters all look like actual high schoolers, from the cheerleading beauty queen to the kid in a wheelchair to the flamboyant gay kid to the jock to the chunky, sassy black girl. It’s no surprise, then, that the Project has a similarly quirky cast: Mario, who’s blind; Ali, who is a paraplegic; Maxfield, a country boy who just started singing; and Tyler, a female-to-male transgender, pictured. And like Glee, it’s shamelessly manipulative. Watching these kids who desperately want to perform, who idolize the cast members of Glee (who are mentors; the first one is Lea Michele) is charming.

Of course, there is a sameness to a lot of it; half the kids (including a girl) look like Justin Beiber, and they flirt with the camera like pros and you kinda want everyone to win. This ain’t no Real Housekids — it’s happy reality.

Debuts tonight on Oxygen.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Logo announces winners of NewNowNext Awards

The live broadcast of Logo’s NewNowNext Awards won’t be until Monday, but we already know the winners. Despite Logo deciding it’s no longer a “gay” network, some of the winners are on the gay side. Here’s the list in the really odd categories they’ve come up with:

Next Mega Star: Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games.

Most Addictive Reality Star: Nadia G, Bitchin’ Kitchen (The Cooking Channel) (defeating Drag Racer Willam).

Cause Your Hot: Naya Rivera, Glee (Fox) (pictured). She defeated Channing Tatum and Henry Cavill.

TV You Betta Watch: Dallas-set GCB (ABC).

Best New Indulgence: Revenge (ABC).

Next Must-See Movie: The Avengers.

Beyond Style Award (tie): Andrej Pejic and Kelly Osbourne (Kelly will be hosting the awards).

Brink of Fame Music Artist: Neon Hitch.

Superfan Site: Vampire-Diaries.net.

Hmmm… Looking at the list, maybe it’s good they aren’t gay anymore.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DTC announces 2012-13 season

The Dallas Theater Center’s fourth season at the Wyly Theatre continues to extend performances into the Kalita Humphreys space where Uptown Players calls home, but this will officially be the last year A Christmas Carol is performed there. The upcoming season itself claims lots of new works or regional premieres in an eclectic season of comedy, professional wrestling, flying men and musicals with the word “fly” in the title.

See the schedule of shows after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Idina Menzel to perform at Fair Park in June

OK, we’ve been here before but I’ll take it this it’s true: Idina Menzel will be appearing in Dallas.

This isn’t the first time she was scheduled. Menzel, who won a Tony Award for Wicked, was supposed to perform her show at Fair Park Music Hall last fall, but the shooting schedule for Glee forced her to postpone. She’s now set to bring it to the Park on June 13 — just in time, we don’t mind noting, for National Pride.

Like all gay men, we love Idina, because she (a) starred in Rent; (b) starred in Wicked, (c) appears on Glee and most of all (d) married Taye Diggs. That’s basically the life and career I’d like to have. Tickets for the show go on say Friday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster. Please don’t disappoint us, Idina! And if Taye wants to sit with me, well, I won’t complain. And if you don’t already know why you should love her, check this out:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best bets • 12.09.11

Friday 12.09

A wicked signature
If you missed out on Kristen Chenoweth’s appearance at the Nasher, you get another up close and personal one when she signs copies of her newest CD, Some Lessons Learned. But get there early. You have to get a wristband to get in line to see the Wicked and Glee star. But she’s so likeable, it’ll be worth the trouble.

DEETS: Barnes & Noble at Stonebriar, 2601 Preston Road, Frisco. 6:30 p.m. 972-668-2820.

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Friday 12.09

For the girls
Deb Hunseder and Steph Callahan are kind of a big deal. As acoustic rockers Halcyon, they’ve opened for big time names such as Joan Osborne, John Mayer and Wynonna Judd. But they headline this weekend. The Florida-based band comes to Dallas with their harmonies intact and a taste of their queer indie rock.

DEETS: With Bad Habits. Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St. 9 p.m. SueEllensDallas.com.

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Saturday 12.10

Forget the stripes, go ‘Plaid’
Although Forever Plaid is filled with comedy, music and dancing, it’s rather dark because the fictional band The Plaids die — in a car crash — before their first concert! But don’t let that take away from the fun. Seriously, it’s a good time.

DEETS: Flower Mound Performing Arts, 100 N. Charles St., Lewisville. Through Dec. 23. $25. FMPAT.org.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Kristen Chenoweth comes to N. Tex. for CD signing — and you’ll need a wristband for it

A few months ago, we wrote about Broadway and TV star Kristen Chenoweth‘s new album of country songs, Some Lessons Learned — a left-turn for the opera-trained singer of pop standards and showtunes. But Chenoweth is just an Oklahoma gal at heart, who grew up on country and church music (but has remained open-hearted and gay-friendly for years).

Well, she’s bringing that music to Frisco for a CD signing at Barnes & Noble at Stonebriar Center on Dec. 9. Chenoweth won’t be appearing until 6:30 p.m. that evening, but you can get a wristband starting at 9 a.m. — they are available on a first come, first served basis. You have to buy the CD at that location, and can only get it — and not other Wicked or Glee memorabilia — signed, though you can buy as many CDs as you want.

Of course, Chenoweth has another strong tie to North Texas — her upcoming ABS series, Good Christian Belles, is set in Dallas.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BIG Lang theory

K.D. Lang, on her new CD, Lady Gaga and her burgeoning butchness

KD-Lang

BUTCHING IT UP | Lang, nearing 50, is embracing her inner ... daddy?

K.D. Lang is manning up, thanks to the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and other sexpots of pop who shoot whipped cream from their chests and ride disco sticks. The longtime gay activist, who turns 50 in November, made a rebellious decision to boost her butchness, evident in the video for “I Confess,” the lead single from her disc Sing it Loud.

She comes to the Meyerson on Tuesday with her band the Siss Boom Bang, but before the show, she dished about the album’s evolution, why being the first out country star doesn’t matter and her work with Glee.

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: Why did you approach Sing it Loud with a fuller sound and, for the first time in 20 years, a band?  Lang: It just seemed to be the right thing to do. It was just what I was feeling. I was working with Joe [Pisapia], writing songs, and it came time to record them and I just felt like the band was the right way to approach it — very live and spontaneous. We put the band together and it was beyond my wildest dreams what transpired.

On “I Confess,” you sing the lyric I’ll be your daddy. How do you think that line would’ve been received had you recorded this song 20 years ago when you first came out? Probably the same as now. I think there’s going to always be people who feel uncomfortable with it and there’s always going to be people who are titillated by it. You just have to know that’s going to be the case for a long time.

Would you say you’re embracing your butchness more than you used to? Yeah, this music really asks for it. I also think that the aesthetic nature of today’s music, with people like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry — not that it’s new, it certainly isn’t; I know better than that — is being very exaggerated I thought, I can exaggerate, too!

What do you make of the way the music business has shifted in the way it sells music? I think it’s boring because everything is so overexposed. But it’s fine; it is what it is. In terms of music, there is always going to be a place for someone who can sing and someone who can communicate with an audience.

Did you ever feel pressure to conform in your career? That would depend on what I wanted to reap from my music. I’ve always been quite sure that I wanted to have a more artistic career and a career of longevity, so in that respect, no. I’ve made decisions that have nurtured my art rather than my public awareness or my celebrity. That’s been self-determined. So no, I never felt the pressure.

If you hadn’t come out, how do you imagine your life and career now? I can’t imagine, because I was always out and coming out wasn’t really a big deal for me. But it certainly made things easier. I can’t imagine what it would be like, but at the same time it’s definitely made my life easier just because it kind of stripped away the question marks in the audience’s minds. It took away any pretense or question.

There was a big hoopla when Chely Wright came out as the first gay country star, because some argued that you beat her to it. What did you think about all that? I don’t know who Chely Wright is, but I don’t care. I mean, to a whole generation of people who know Chely Wright, they probably don’t know who I am. So to them it is the first country star to come out. I don’t really care who’s the first, who’s the last, because before me there were a lot of people that helped get me to a place to feel confident and comfortable with coming out.

Last year you lent your voice to a song on a Glee soundtrack. Would you ever do the show? I don’t really watch Glee, but I know it’s very popular and gay-friendly, which is great. And Jane Lynch is hilarious! If they asked me I would consider it, but I’m really happy that I could be a part of something that’s supportive and promotes alternative and varying lifestyles.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 09.23.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Olivia Newton-John turns 63 on Monday. The singer/actress reached queer iconicism as the muse Kira in the roller skating fantasy film Xanadu. She only helped that with her role as Bitsy Mae Harling in the Sordid Lives film and the television series. We think her guest appearances on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List and Glee her well on queerdom’s radar.

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THIS WEEK

Fresh into Libra, the sun and Mercury stimulate friendly conversation but they’re opposite Uranus and squaring Pluto; any dialogue can turn fiercely argumentative or deliciously wicked. Either way, secrets will be revealed!

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LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Getting older beats the hell out of the alternative. The trick is to celebrate maturity, not to try hiding your age. Staying active and fit is one thing; holding on to your adolescence is another.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Your energy is high, perhaps hard to control. Worrying about that can turn it into nervous aggravation. Stay focused. Staying where you’re visible will help you stay on purpose.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
If arguments with friends leave you irritated, it’s because they’re right. Be big enough to admit it. You’re in too much demand now to be in a cranky sulk. What you learn can prove helpful at work.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Rewards for your accomplishments are more spiritual than remunerative. If that disappoints you, take it in stride. Remember, you’re always being seen and attitude is key to further success.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Charm is more persuasive than facts. That doesn’t mean you have to compromise your integrity, but you want to adjust your attitude. Especially with the one you love, remember to be kind.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Outstanding debts should wait. Focus on your sex life. What do you really want? Partnered: A long heart-to-heart talk is in order. Single: An adventure can open up amazing new possibilities.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Accepting invitations to fun causes as much trouble as refusing them. Adventure and drama are inevitable, so embrace them consciously with eyes open or they will sneak up on you.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Don’t let work stress you out. Exercise shakes off the tension. Redistributing the workload among your co-workers can help. Staying focused on the goal is important, but don’t obsess on it.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Your efforts to include friends just annoy them. Let them be the audience when you’re done. If you find a good collaborator, though, it could become more than a working relationship.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Make new contacts in your community. You’ll be surprised to discover how well known you are. Those new connections prove helpful in your career. When in doubt, stay close to home.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Some things need to be said and feathers have to be ruffled. Be tactful, but also be ready to deal with the fact that someone will be upset, and he or she will just have to hear it and adapt.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Be careful whom you contract with in financial undertakings. It could work out brilliantly, but is more likely to be a disaster. Sexual explorations can improve partnerships or help start one.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens