1 hit, a lot of balls

Though not a perfect game, ‘Take Me Out’ scores in the bottom of the 9th

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DESIGNATED HOTTIES | The shower scenes are steamy, but the interpersonal dynamics between ballplayers (Kevin Moore and Lloyd Harvey) run the bases in ‘Take Me Out.’ (Photo by Mike Morgan)

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

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a first act can fool you.

Act 1 of Richard Greenberg’s play Take Me Out, is, quite simply, not very good. The exposition is lazy, the central conflict (intentionally kept close to the vest) twee, the dialogue on the stilted side. Aside from the much-hyped locker-room nudity — and this is not a comment on the actors’ bodies — there’s not much “there” there.

Then comes Act 2, and Take Me Out opens like a lily with the breaking dawn.

In Uptown Players’ current production, the second is nearly twice as long as the first, but it crackles with energy. Greenberg’s “floating narrator” device almost works, and the non-linear storytelling begins to make sense. And there’s more nudity. Nothin’ wrong with that.

Take Me Out is a buzz-worthy play, flesh aside: Set in 2002, it’s the story of Darren Lemming (Lloyd Harvey), a Major League Baseball player — the best in the pros (suggestively modeled on Derek Jeter back when there were rumors of his sexual orientation) — who at the height of his skills comes out. Putatively, the play deals with the fallout from that announcement, but really, it doesn’t. Almost all the characters are inside the clubhouse; we get only a faint sense of the public reaction (which, we all know, would be a shitstorm). Instead, being gay is used as a catalyst for the interpersonal dynamics within the dugout.

The societal element is a missed opportunity — Darren would be mobbed with talk-show requests; we’re owed at least one sit-down with Oprah — and the gay idea could be almost anything (he could have come out as atheist or Muslim or Communist, it hardly matters). But eventually, you get caught up in the story, especially the conflict between Darren and Shane Muggitt (Andrews Cope), an illiterate redneck brought up from the minors, and his financial advisor “Mars” (Art Kedzierski), a flamboyant gay man intoxicated by his newfound love of baseball.

Darren himself is a difficult character to parse; he’s arrogant though we are constantly reminded universally loved; that seems unlikely, especially for Mets fans. He’s, in turn, incredibly savvy and unbelievably naïve, smart then a dolt. Harvey eventually settles into a rhythm, though there are moments that waver.

There aren’t any with Kedzierski, who’s hilarious and touching, and really, the emotional touchstone for the audience. He’s the first person onstage who seems specific, not just a metaphor for some principle or a utility character serving a dramaturgical function. Kedzierski’s enthusiasm infects the play, carrying over to scenes he’s not even in. Cope’s take on Muggitt as more imbecile than bigot is a canny, almost daring one (as Tropic Thunder cautioned, “ya never go full retard”). Kevin Moore, as the principal narrator, adds depth to a sketchy character.

Andy Redmon’s set, suggestive of a baseball diamond, makes a great nod to an outdoor game set entirely in the confines of a locker room, and Michael Serrecchia’s direction makes the most of the weaker parts of Greenberg’s script.

Not every game has to be won on a home run, as long as you get a few hits and run the bases. Way to hustle, guys. Now hit the showers.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 10, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Calendar men

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There should be plenty of beefy hot cowboys in town during the IGRA rodeo, but why not enjoy them all year long? Thanks to HomoRodeo.com, you can. Their Cowboy Outlaws calendar means you don’t have to book a trip to Brokeback Mountain to find aw-shucks hotties.

HomoRodeo.com is a social networking site celebrating the queer community (mostly men) on the rural side of the fence: farmers, cowboys and just-everyday guys. Founded by Harley Deuce, the site and the calendar are in their 7th year celebrating the cowboy.

“I grew up in a rural environment,” Deuce says. “HomoRodeo.com is a result of going to gay rodeos and helping the people stay in touch, promote the sport. I appreciate what the cowboy represents.”

No professional models were harmed in the making of Cowboy Outlaws — all models in the calendar are members of the site. And those members are willing to bare it all. Yup, all. This is the gift that keeps on giving — until December, at least.

HomoRodeo.com will host meet-and-greets at both Woody’s and Best Friends with this year’s gentlemen, some of who are competing at IGRA. But with a limited edition in print and the appeal of the men, Deuce says to plan your visit.

“The line can get long, especially if people are waiting to get all the guys’ autographs,” he says. “Get there as soon as it opens.”

Not a problem.

— Rich Lopez

Best Friends Club
2620 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth.
Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

Woody’s
4011 Cedar Springs Road.
Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.
HomoRodeo.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

100 gay bachelors stick to the wall and qualify for Out Magazine’s ‘Most Eligible’ list

Over on Out Magazine‘s website, they posted a contest where readers can vote on the top 10 from their 100 Most Eligible Gay Bachelors slideshow. I’m glad to see they didn’t just stick with cardboard hotties ages 21-25, but their selection is a bit baffling. The list is heavy on L.A. and N.Y. players, which makes it somewhat two-dimensional and bugs me the most. But after scrolling through the pics, it just felt like Out started throwing names and whatever stuck was included.

I appreciated selections like Precious director Lee Daniels and Woodpigeon’s hottie frontman Mark Hamilton, pictured, but I hardly expected to see the likes of this guy or this person on the list. I get the impression that if you live in New York or Los Angeles, are gay, single, famous and have a fabulous job and/or a publicist, you made the list. If you look really close, they even included Out staff members.

OK, so they are doing this for Valentine’s Day, when the top 10 will be revealed, and thus the more everyman types weren’t going to be included. Still, I figure there are men from the flyover states who more than qualify for the list — not to mention from all over the world, and some of them aren’t designers or actors. Clearly I’m a cynic, but whatever.

But I am curious who the local most eligible bachelors (and bachelorettes are). If Out were looking at Dallas folk, who would you include in the list?

—  Rich Lopez