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.

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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

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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

Drawing Dallas

Even with a big family (3 kids and 5 grandkids), retired schoolteacher Richard John du Pont projects a dandy’s fashion sense

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name: Richard John du Pont

Occupation: Retired elementary school teacher

Spotted at: Kroger’s on the Strip

Colorful and vibrant, Richard was born and reared in upstate New York in a small town on the Mohawk River called Crescent. Retired since 2003, this tireless educator spent 30 years teaching 4th and 6th grades, and continues as a substitute teacher for the Dallas I.S.D (Sam Houston Elementary and Maple Lawn Elementary). He graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education from the Central University of Iowa and a has masters in education from North Texas State University at Denton.

A man of taste: This silver-haired taste maker owns an exquisite collection of antiques, tastefully chosen to accent his beautiful home. He also lends his skill and expertise as a salesman to two estate sales and as a sales rep for Metrotex at the four large annual shows at the Dallas Trade Center.

Daddy dearest: This proud patriarch of two sons, one daughter and five grandsons sees family as the root of his life. His close-knit clan lives in the area so he is able to spend a lot of time with his children and grandchildren.

His hobbies include volunteer work for DIFFA, Legacy Counseling Center and Fresh, as well as traveling, reading, working out at Gold’s Gym Uptown, dancing and shopping. He collects vintage clothing and jewelry (more than 100 suits at least — he attends the Cathedral of Hope every Sunday in one of them with an antique brooch), and Converse and Vans shoes.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Daddy knows best

Sexy pianist Jim Brickman makes touring a family affair

RICH LOPEZ  | lopez@dallasvoice.com

concert-1
PAPA JIM | Jim Brickman strives to keep his road crew one big, happy family as they head to Dallas. (Arnold Wayne Jones | Dallas Voice)

JIM BRICKMAN
Meyerson Symphony Center,
2301 Flora St. Jan. 7–8  at 8 p.m. $39–$117.
DallasSymphony.com

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Switching out of holiday mode can be tough: putting away decorations and getting back to daily grind takes some adjusting.

The same can be said for celebrities — at least for Jim Brickman. The smooth-playing pianist (and sometime singer) has performed a holiday tour for 15 years which just wrapped up in the final week of 2010. Now he has to shift gears quickly for 2011 with his spring and winter tour A Night of Romance, which comes to the Meyerson this week.

Whichever show Brickman is on the road with though, he keeps it a family affair, with Brickman serving as the loveable patriarch.

“It took me, like, 15 years to get the right combo of talent and crew,” he says. “We all work so hard so it’s like a road family. When we’re on the bus, the crew and talent are all together. There is lots of loyalty in this group for each other and I want them to take pride in their work and each other.”

But even with the warm fuzzies, Brickman is still the boss. Like any parent, he pushes his children to strive for the best and encourages the work of everyone involved, from the lights people to his band — even himself.

“This tour has been going so well, “ he says. “I’ve been most proud because this show is extremely tight and the flow is perfect. I don’t want audiences to want to wait for something to happen and they’ve been great.”

His audience might be considered a third family. Where some aim for roaring crowds, Brickman likes a more personal impression; if a fan feels like it was a one-on-one experience, the musician calls that the bigger triumph.

“I’m very fond of that dynamic because that becomes very family-like,” he says. “I’ve learned that the more you are who you really are and the less you perform to an audience, the more comfortable they feel. When you play a hall, especially like [the Meyerson], there’s an energy about it and the audience creates that and takes it with them.”

On his newest album, Home, he ventures into country music and collaborates with genre staples Lady Antebellum and Ty Herndon, among others. This might sound like a departure, but he sees it as more relevant than people might think.

“The thing about country music is it’s extremely organic and by nature is more acoustic — more so than any genre,” he says. “I wanted it to feel very comfortable. You put it on and have a sense of simplicity and make it like a soundtrack for chilling at home.”

He gives high marks to country singers over most pop singers, too, which he attributes to being storytellers. On of all his duets, which include Martina McBride and Olivia Newton-John, he says the one that came together the best was with a very green singer.

“You know, I’d have to say that Kermit the Frog was probably my favorite one. I always think that there has to be a chemistry between me and performer and it was there,” he laughs.

Brickman is a veteran of the biz; He released his first album, No Words, in 1994 and his holiday CDs have been popular sellers since. But he still admits he’s a little anxious about his upcoming shows with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

“Yeah, when I’m performing live, I’m solo, so if I decide the audience needs a pick me up, I can do something because I’m an improviser,” he says. “You can’t do that with the symphony. If you don’t play what they are playing and you hit two wrong measures — yeah, that’s not a good situation.”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Top Republican TV shows are also gay favorites

‘Modern Family’ was No. 3 on the Republicans’ list.

A new study of TV viewing habits of Republicans vs. Democrats reveals something not surprising — that the two groups like completely different shows. What is surprising is that on the Republican list are more shows that are popular among the LGBT community than on the Democratic list.

Most glaring is the No. 3 Republican show — Modern Family. That program features one of the best portrayals of a gay family ever seen on television. And Ed O’Neill, the patriarch of the family, is married to a woman from Columbia who has moved to the United States with her son. Immigration is not usually a popular Republican theme.

At No. 12 is another very gay show, Desperate Housewives. Bree’s son is gay. There’s a gay couple living on Wisteria Lane. Marc Cherry, the show’s creator who earned his TV cred as a writer for Golden Girls, is gay. Gay, gay, gay. But it’s on the Republican favorites list, not the Democrats’.

Coming in at No. 2 on the Republican side is yet another gay favorite, Dancing With the Stars. I guess that explains Bristol Palin’s continued appearance. Next season there’s talk of a gay couple. The Israeli version of DWTS tried that this year and it’s become the most popular show in that country this season.

And No. 1 is Amazing Race, which usually features gay contestants. The winner of the fourth season was Reichen Lehmkuhl and his partner at the time Chip Arndt. Mel White has appeared. Are Republicans watching to root against these players?

On the Democratic side, the No. 1 show is something called Flashpoint. Really? It’s a CBS show apparently. No. 2 in popularity is a PBS show called Hometime. OK, did Democrats answer this poll seriously?

About the only two shows on the Democratic list that would also be up there on the LGBT list are Brothers and Sisters (No. 10), which features a gay couple living in a family of Democrats with the exception of one progressive Republican sister, and Palin-impersonator Tina Fey’s 30 Rock (No. 15).

Law and Order? Good show but sounds perfectly Republican, right? Nope. Democrats prefer that show. America’s Most Wanted on FOX? Democrats. Really?

Republicans prefer The Mentalist. Democrats prefer Medium. There’s a difference?

Glee? Not on either list.

Only one show made both lists — Friday Night Lights. Great choice by both sides. Republicans rate the show one notch higher than Democrats. The writing is smart, although I’ve never seen anyone actually stick to the script. It’s something other than a police or hospital procedural show. Great character development. Interesting plot. And I’m on the show. (I play a Dillon, Texas reporter on the sidelines of the football games and at press conferences on the show. It’ll be back for its final season in the spring.)

—  David Taffet