What’s the country’s most beloved ‘Nutcracker’? You might be surprised

Every year, ticketing agency Gold Star nominates ballet companies for the Nutty — an award for the most beloved production of The Nutcracker in the country. This year, TBT’s Sir Ben Stevenson’s restaging (which continues this weekend at Bass Hall) was nominated. So was last year’s winner, the Joffrey. And Moscow Ballet Theater’s touring production. And the San Francisco Ballet and the Mark Morris Dance Company.

And The Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker.

If you’ve ever played “one of these things is not like the other,” the last should set off your radar. That’s the version put on by gay-run MBS Productions, currently onstage at the Stone Cottage Theatre in Addison following two sold-out weekends. That makes North Texas the only place in the country with two of the noms — and the only two in Texas.

It’s not a complete surprise — this is a repeat.

“We got nominated the second year in a row,” says company founder Mark-Brian Sonna. “Still, we are floored by it.”

As Sonna points out, the show mixes stuff up a little every year, making the cult hit different even for repeat customers. And it’s the only one that’s really a play with music, as opposed to the formal ballet.

The winner will be announced on Christmas Eve. Here’s hoping until then, the folks in MBS’s show break a leg … or maybe, bust a nut.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

This week’s edition is The Food Issue, and we cover a lot (check it out), but the big news this week is that Monica Greene has, exactly five years after closing Ciudad, reopened in the gayborhood. Last night was the first service for Monica’s Nueva Cocina, her revision of Aca y Alla now at the ilume. The formal grand opening won’t be for two weeks, but you can get a sneak before then.

Theatre 3‘s new season officially kicks off upstairs on Monday (following previews this weekend) with Present Laughter, a comedy by gay British icon Noel Coward. Avenue Q will continue to play its extended run downstairs until September 16 (although I heard a rumor it will go even longer). Mark-Brian Sonna Productions’ The Importance of Being Lovely continues its successful run at the Stone Cottage in Addison, having just been extended as well to Aug. 18. Across the way, WaterTower Theatre’s Smokey Joe’s Cafe has also been extended, to Aug. 19.

Liz Mikel is also performing an extended run in Joseph as DTC, but you can see her out of one character and into another as she performs the songs of Moms Mabley, Ma Rainey and more on her night off. Her cabaret show will be at the South Side on Lamar Blue Room on Monday night.

On Thursday night, two more Drag Racers come to town to perform at the new I’ll Do Dancing Club on Elm Street, with music from DJ Redeye.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

MBS Productions begins 7 Plays in 7 Days theater festival tonight at Stone Cottage in Addison

Mark-Brian Sonna will be undergoing an ambitious theater project in, oh, about five hours. Tonight begins the first of a week’s worth of new plays and staged readings for the inaugural 7 Plays in 7 Days festival. Each weeknight at 8, MBS Productions will put on a new show or reading, but if school nights are too tough to make it, all the new shows will play throughout Saturday and Sunday.

All productions will be at the Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison.

Here is the official word from MBS:

7 World premieres will be presented from Monday, Sept. 19 through Sunday Sept. 25.  Every night, Monday– Sunday at 8 p.m., a new play will be presented.  On Saturday and Sunday, throughout the day the plays will be presented on a rotation basis should audience members wish to see several of the plays within one day.

The plays will be either fully mounted productions, or fully rehearsed staged readings.

Tickets for the event will be $14 per performance or $50 fora festival pass which will give you full access to all the plays.  To purchase tickets or a festival pass go to www.MBSProductions.net.

MBS Productions 2010/11 or 2011/12 Season Pass holders can use their punch card to attend any of the performances or if they may simply present the card and purchase the tickets at half off!

Below is the full schedule.

—  Rich Lopez

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

MBS announces 2011-12 season

MBS Productions, which specializes in world premieres, often with a gay (and always racy) twist, has revealed its upcoming slate, which includes another favorite come back.

The season starts on Oct. 13 with Octavia, a Roman tragedy about Emperor Nero and his wife that, apparently, was banned by the Roman leader 2,000 years ago and is getting its debut now.

Once again, the Christmas show will be The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents a Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker, pictured, about a team of exotic dancers who put on a less-than-traditional holiday pageant.

The Game of Love and Chance, a sex farce about mistaken identities, runs just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Bretton B. Holmes’ Fortune, in which an estranged father and son are forced to spend a week together in order to inherit a family fortune, opens March 22.

The season closes with two plays by resident playwright Alejandro de la Costa: 2 Couples 2, where two married couples decide to vacation together, each unaware that their spouses are having same-sex affairs with each other; and The Importance of Being Lovely about a drag queen scorned.

Tickets are available at MBSProductions.net.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

MBS Productions' 'Theatre of Death' closes this weekend with a bang

As the show winds down, Mark-Brian Sonna’s play Theatre of Death closes on a big note. Halloween night is their fundraiser show to keep MBS Productions up to speed. Tickets are a smidgen higher at $25 but it’s also a bargain. Not only does $25 get you a seat for this show, MBS is also offering a ticket to another show with special thanks to Rover Dramawerks and Teatro Dallas. That and a grab bag of treats. Although, check with Sonna about eating them in the show. Cellophane wrappers in a play is criminal. Also, they encourage costumes because they are giving away door prizes and one grand prize for the best costume of the night.

Sunday is Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead for you gringos. MBS will keep the weekend festivities going by offering traditional food and drinks. Don’t worry, just because it’s Day of the Dead, doesn’t mean you’ll be drinking plasma punch. Sonna will stick around to explain how the Mexican holiday os celebrated. But he’s a fast talker so be sure and pay close attention.  Curtain time for Sunday is 2:30 p.m.

—  Rich Lopez