Gay Pulitzer Prize-winner detained in McAllen

joseantoniovargasJose Antonio Vargas, whom we interviewed last fall, is a gay journalist with a Pulitzer Prize, but he gained his greatest fame when he “came out” … not as gay, but as an undocumented alien, which he did in an op/ed piece in the New York Times Magazine three years ago.

Now Vargas finds himself on the receiving side of the I.N.S. Earlier today, Vargas flew to McAllen, Texas, to raise awareness for the plight of minor-aged illegals. After completing his visit, he prepared to fly back to Los Angeles, but was detained by border control for not having proper documentation.

—  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

GIVEAWAY: Tickets to “Bring It On: The Musical”

We like our cheerleading competitions enough on ESPN, but when they fall and break something, it’s just too much to bear. So we’ll opt for a musical. From the movie screen to the stage,  cheerleading rivals learn there’s more to life then human pyramids and herkies in Bring It On: The Musical. The show has major Broadway cred behind it, as well. Check out this roster of creatives behind it: Tony Award-winning writer Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q); Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (In The Heights); Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and lyricist Amanda Green (High Fidelity); Tony Award-winning orchestrator Alex Lacamoire (In The Heights); and Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (In The Heights).

Sounds like fun, right? You could check it out yourself. We have a pair of tickets to give away for the opening night of Bring It On at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Here’s what you do. Just list us five different types of cheerleading jumps (we gave you one already) along with your name and contact info, put “Gimme a T” (you know, for tickets) in the subject line and email us here. The winner will be drawn next week.

Good luck.

—  Rich Lopez

WaterTower’s 2011-12 season

WaterTower Theatre tonight announced several premieres or locally produced Tony Award winning shows, including Spring Awakening and August:Osage County. Here’s the schedule:

Spring Awakening, the 8-time Tony winning musical with a score by Duncan Sheik, opens the season on Sept. 30. The play about sexual repression in the 19th century was choreographed by Bill T. Jones.

Rockin’ Christmas Party returns Nov. 26. The jukebox musical features rock versions of Christmas carols returns after an absence of a few years (pictured is the 2007 edition).

The Diary of Anne Frank opens 2012, starting Jan. 6. It tells the story of a Jewish girl and her family hiding out in an Amsterdam attic during World War II.

August: Osage County, Terry Letts’ remarkable panoramic play about an Oklahoma family, opens March 30. Rene Moreno, who direcyed a version of it last year out of state, will direct WaterTower’s version. The play won the Tony for best play and the Pulitzer Prize.

Boeing Boeing, Marc Camoletti’s sex farce about a man dating three flight attendants, opens May 25.

Smokey Joe’s Cafe, another jukebox musical featuring the songs of Leiber and Stoller (“Hound Dog,” “Woman”) closes the season with a July 20 opening.

Also returning is the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, running March 1–11.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Some things a-Foote: Festival of Texas writer’s work continues with hits (Uptown), misses (WTT)

FAMILY SECRETS | Mom (Lucia Welch, standing center) and dad (T.A. Taylor, seated) don’t discuss the nature of their late son’s ‘roommate’ in an engaging ‘Young Man from Atlanta.’ (Photo by Mike Morgan)

As the Horton Foote Festival progresses among the local theater community, Dallas is privy to some of the Texas-born writer’s other works that might get eclipsed by his more famous works, the films The Trip to Bountiful and Tender Mercies. Despite not much that’s gay in the Foote oeuvre, Uptown Players digs out the one show with that certain touch with the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Young Man from Atlanta.

An older Houston couple has some issues to iron out when the title fella comes to visit. Will Kidder (T.A. Taylor), the patriarch of a well-to-do family in 1950s Houston, is talking to his like-a-son-associate Tom (Kevin Moore) about the death of his son Bill, who drowned. The gist of the play happens when we’ve already glimpsed the title character reaching out to the family. The Kidders first meet Bill’s “friend,” Randy Carter, at his funeral, where his constant contact unnerves Will but touches his wife, Lily Dale (Lucia A. Welch). Lily Dale even loans the man a large sum of money from her Christmas allowance, which Will later needs access to.

We’re supposed to get the impression that this young man was more than a roommate to Bill and that the Kidders just aren’t going to speak that-which-must-not-be-named. But as Lily Dale talks about the money she’s given him for his mother’s operation and sister in dire straits, we can’t pinpoint if Carter is a scammer or something more important.

Young Man gets off to a weak start with talky exposition, but we get drawn into the Kidders’ emotional evolution through Willi’s layoff and their mourning. Will has more insight to why his son would walk into a lake until the water was over his head without liking to swim; Lily Dale is in more denial. And while they have lived the high-life for such a long time, the Kidders discover they may actually have to live a life without facades.

What sounds like heavy drama is punctuated by nice bits of humor and lightheartedness, so they play is never weighed down like it could be.

The play pretty much belongs to Taylor, though the supporting cast is strong. Welch behaves with appropriate Southern housewifery, mostly smiling through the pain of their late son, who drowned. When she’s not around her husband, she longs with graceful sadness around her housekeeper Clara (an excellent Yolanda Williams).

As her stepfather Pete, Gordon Fox strikes the right balance of crotchety and tender.

Moore’s performance is a bit too much, with the overdone facial gestures and deep-voiced acting. On the opposite end, Stan Graner’s work in a brief scene as Kidder’s boss is nuanced to perfection. With subtle posturing and inflection, he delivers authority, friendliness and discomfort in having to fire Kidder. Tippi Hunter and Amanda Denton enter the show briefly as the Kidders’ former housekeeper and Will’s secretary, respectively. It felt as though Hunter’s appearance was supposed to have more meaning, but we never quite see how that scene moved much forward. Blake Blair as Pete’s nephew is a tall drink of yum and charms with lanky fashion.

We may never quite know much about The Young Man From Atlanta, but Uptown Players made a dramatic gem in helping us trying to figure him out and giving us a bit more insight into Horton Foote’s works.

— Rich Lopez


JUST STAY PUT | A young mother (Misty Vinters, left) discovers her husband is a jerk in the tedious Foote entry ‘The Traveling Lady.’ (Photo by Mark Oristano)

The actors in The Traveling Lady all suffer from a bad case of Foote-in-mouth disease: The tendency of all Southern accents to bleed together. There are Texas twangs and Tennessee drawls and a whol’ passel’uh cornpone variations in between, but wouldn’t it be nice if a cast of characters from the same small town sounded like, you know, each other?

That’s perhaps a minor point, but the pacing of this entry in the Foote Fest, courtesy of WaterTower Theatre, doesn’t leave much else to think about as it dries on stage like oil-based matte paint: slowly, and with a dull finish.

Foote’s style has been described as Chekhov-meets-Faulkner; personally, I prefer my Chekhov fighting Klingons — even when it’s bad, at least something happens. Nothing much happens in Traveling Lady, a fact emphasized by Marion Castleberry’s sluggish direction. He seems to know more about the text of the play than the texture of theater — there’s a lugubrious, academic tone to this trite 1954 story about the awkward reunion of a wife and her husband, who’s been in prison. (The demonization of alcohol makes it feel like a PSA for the Temperance League.)

As storytelling, it’s OK; as a play, it’s old-fashioned and stodgy, with too much standing around, not enough moving around (where’s the traveling promised, even if it’s just across the stage?). Why don’t the characters do anything, even if it’s just drying dishes? Clare Floyd Devries’ marvelous set is much more interesting than anything the actors are doing.

It probably wouldn’t matter much if they did bother acting. Other than Dorothy Deavers as a dotty old woman, there’s almost no comedy in this lazy stroll down Tobacco Road. The lady can travel if she wants; I’m staying put.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

QLive! announces 2011 season

QCinema founder Todd Camp decided to branch outside the bounds of the small screen and into live performance. As part of its 2011 season, the film festival announces QLive!, which presents live theater in addition to film. Like Dallas’ Uptown Players, it will concentrate on gay-themed plays and shows of interest to the gay community. The season includes:

Dying City (March). The brother of a man killed in Iraq confronts his widowed sister-in-law, and suggests something else may have contributed to his death. Christopher Shinn’s mystery play was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The Men from the Boys (April; staged reading). A sequel to Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band catches up with the characters years later.

Brian Gallivan: The Sassy Gay Friend LIVE! (June). The creator of viral videos about the “sassy gay friend” performs a live comedy show.

None of the Above (September). A comedy about the relationship between a 17-year-old and her SAT tutor.

Art (November). Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning drama about how an all-white painting divides three male friends.

Corpus Christi (December). Terrence McNally’s controversial play finally gets its Fort Worth performance.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The ‘Hole’ story

Gay director John Cameron Mitchell goes mainstream with ‘Rabbit Hole’

LAWRENCE FERBER  | lawrencewferber@hotmail.com

Rabbit HoleIn Rabbit Hole, a little boy’s death tears his parents’ lives apart. Actor-turned-filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) connected deeply with the material — adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire from his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play — and won over star/producer Nicole Kidman, snagging his first high-profile, Hollywood feature-directing gig.

As close to a sure bet for an Oscar nomination as one can get, Kidman delivers a natural performance opposite an equally strong Aaron Eckhart. While somber in tone, Rabbit Hole’s wit-bitten dialogue, smart editing, alternating flashes of humor and explosive emotion, and excellent supporting actors — including Sandra Oh, Dianne Wiest, and newcomer Miles Teller as the teenager who accidentally caused the child’s death — combine to make a memorable, compelling and entertaining new classic.

Mitchell recently directed a stunning online short for Dior starring Marion Cotillard and Ian McKellen as a burlesque siren and a wheelchair-bound fan, respectively (he says that more spots will follow), is also producing graphic novelist Dash Shaw’s debut animated feature, which he describes as “a mix between Philip K. Dick and The Simpsons.” Mitchell sat down for a revealing one-on-one.

Dallas Voice: When you were a teenager, your four-year-old brother died, and you witnessed firsthand how that can break up a family. That must have served as a significant personal connection to Rabbit Hole. Have you ever experienced a loss or tragedy that tested an adult relationship of yours?
Mitchell: Well, my most serious relationship was with someone who had a drug problem. Over many years it was an off-and-on element because he was in rehab at times. It was too much for us. It wasn’t just the drugs, it was other issues, but it was a very loving relationship and he passed away soon after we broke up. That was six years ago. I lost a brother when I was 14 — a very different experience from losing a lover — but [there were] the same symptoms.
There’s this horrible period right after and guilt, rational or not, usually not, and then this kind of exhilaration of that period is over — and then it comes back. So the last six years have been a bit of roller coaster where the dips get longer and shallower as you go. I haven’t really talked about that much. But this was necessary to think about and release some stuff about both of them.

You went from working with unknown indie actors and bohemian gender-benders to Nicole Kidman. Strange?
Well, Nicole’s about to play a tranny in a film [The Danish Girl],  and of all the A-list female stars, I think of her as the most adventurous. It was surprising that I found myself on this job, but she really heard how passionate I was when I spoke about it with her. And it was this instinctive thing. She’s like, “I have a feeling — I want to work with Lars Von Trier.” Kate Winslet doesn’t do that. Even Meryl Streep. These are brilliant actors but when was the last time they threw themselves a little bit in the gutter the way Tilda Swinton or Nicole does? “I’m going to work with Apichatpong Weerasethaku from Thailand [who just won the Palme D’Or at Cannes] because I like his work.” Not as a career move, what do I do next. I was surprised but it felt comfortable.

What difference was there between directing Rabbit Hole, which was a work for hire, and your previous films, which were auteur projects you curated and controlled from beginning to end?
It was the first time I didn’t have final say, but it was great because it was three people [myself and two producers] making the decisions. If there are only two people, there’s no tie-breaker and sometimes it’s trouble. And we all had different taste. Somewhere in between we knew this was an audience-friendly film. We’re not necessarily going for … the same treatment of the material, death of a child, the same set-up, could be [Lars Von Trier’s] Antichrist. And it’s not In the Bedroom where there’s more schematic of going to get revenge.

Miles Teller as the teenager who accidentally ran over the child is so sullen and restrained, yet I read that he plays the goofy, outgoing Chris Penn character in the upcoming remake of Footloose.
He’s actually quite different from that [Rabbit Hole] character. He’s quite happy-go-lucky. At the wrap party he was dancing like Michael Jackson. He’s like a really brilliant dancer.

Are those scars on his face real? I was wondering if they were there to suggest he had been hurt in the accident that killed the child.
Yeah, those scars are from a real accident that he almost died in. I let the question [remain]… we all have these scars.

After tons of false starts a la Milk, a film of Larry Kramer’s seminal play about the AIDS crisis, The Normal Heart, is finally getting made with Ryan Murphy (Glee) at the helm. In the early 1990s, you appeared in Kramer’s stage sequel, The Destiny of Me. Would you seek any involvement with The Normal Heart?
I am semi-retired [from acting], and periodically a part makes me want to step out, but it has to be something I have to do emotionally and there are very few of those. Oddly, one of them was playing Laura Bush in a reading of Tony Kushner’s play about her in 2004, a brilliant one-act. Tony makes me want to act. I’m gonna act again. It’s just timing.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Victoria, victor

Tony-winning Dallasite Victoria Clark comes home for concert with TWCD

MARK LOWRY  | marklowry@theaterjones.com

V-Clark-3
Victoria Clark

Wyly Theatre
2400 Flora St.
Dec. 19. 7 p.m. $20–$48. 214-520-7828.
TheWomensChorusofDallas.com

…………………………………………..

Broadway was not what Victoria Clark had expected.

The Hockaday School graduate always knew she wanted to perform, studying opera in Austria and at Michigan’s prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy and matriculating Yale University before headed for New York’s Great White Way. She had a vision of what it would be like.

“I thought everyone was going to come to work with big moustaches and capes and be drinking and crazy,” she says, laughing. “But they would say things like ‘I couldn’t find a parking space’ or ‘my son is having trouble in English,’ talking about what normal people talk about. I think I wanted them to be more eccentric.”

Some 25 years after her first show (she was cast as an understudy in Stephen Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George), Clark has proven that the normalcy of working in New York theater is just fine — and that you can make a living at it (with insurance and benefits, even).

She had supporting roles in revivals of Guys and Dolls, How to Succeed… and  Cabaret, then won a best actress Tony Award in 2006 for the Adam Guettel-Craig Lucas musical The Light in the Piazza. She takes center stage again this weekend, as she returns home to perform with

The Women’s Chorus of Dallas in its annual holiday concert at the Wyly Theatre.

Clark grew up in the Greenway Park area near Inwood Road and Mockingbird Lane. Although her parents weren’t especially artistic, their children found outlets for creativity. Clark’s brothers dabbled in bands, and her sister, Dawn Prestwich, became a screenwriter with an impressive list of television writing credits.

For Clark, though, it was all about singing — something her grandmother encouraged. She also developed a love for it at Hockaday, where she attended all 12 years, and became involved in drama as well.

“I remember that we learned to do everything,” she says. “We made the blintzes for You Can’t Take It With You and then ate them [in the show].”

One of her instructors, Ed Long, who’s still at Hockaday, encouraged her to attend Interlochen. Her choral director at First Community

Church, Don Herman, and Ed DeLatte of the now-closed Dallas Repertory Theatre, were both influential in pushing her to keep training her voice.

So she did, always finding the not-so-strange world of New York theater a welcoming place. She admits there have been many missed opportunities along the way, such as when she didn’t take the offer to workshop one of the Stepsisters in Sondheim’s Into the Woods (“When you get in early in a job like that, unless you kick someone in the shin or something like that, and you do a reasonable job, they ask the same group back”).

But one big opp she wasn’t about to pass over was Margaret Johnson, the American mother on vacation in Italy whose daughter falls for a hunky Italian man (played by Glee’s Matthew Morrison), in The Light in the Piazza.

“We did it three times, in Seattle and Chicago and then New York, and the show kept getting better and better,” she says. “The part was not written for me, but by the end I felt that it was. Pretty quickly they liked what I was doing with it.”

But even after 20 years of working in New York at that point, she was still not always confident. “Like every project, every day I was afraid I would get the call and they would tell me I was going to be replaced. Luckily Adam is very picky about voices and he liked my singing. That’s the one thing I could bring: I have a distinctive sound.”

That sound might bring her to Broadway again this spring, in a project that she can’t talk about yet. And it’s one that will charm audiences on

Sunday night with the Women’s Chorus. She’ll sing “Fable,” her big number from Piazza, as well as songs from her 2008 debut record, Fifteen Seconds of Grace, along with carols with the chorus.

And it’s a good bet that there won’t be any eccentrics with moustaches and capes hanging backstage — unless you count Santa.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Best Bets • 09.24.10

Friday 09.24

Corny dogs, here we come
The State Fair of Texas is upon us once again and that means fried foods, dizzying rides and emptied wallets — and it’s totally worth it. We’re still making up our mind on the new fried beer on the menu, but the Texas Fried Frito Pie sounds like a dream and a nightmare for any personal trainer. But who cares? It’s the Fair!

DEETS: Fair Park, 1300 Robert B Cullum Blvd. Through Oct. 17. $15. BigTex.com.

Sunday 09.26

Classic lit without the reading
This image from the cover of “The Great Gatsby” instilled dread among middle and high school students. But AIDS Interfaith Network turns the classic novel about the roaring ’20s into fab times with “The Great Gatsby…Get Your Flap On.” Complete with jazz, bubbly and fundraising, it almost makes you want to read it again. Almost.

DEETS: Union Station, 400 S. Houston St. 2 p.m. $75–$125. AIDSInterfaithNetwork.org

Wednesday 09.29

WaterTower is getting Wilder
Terry Martin does double duty as director and actor in “Our Town,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Thornton Wilder. The tales of the ordinary folk of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire come alive in this season opener for WaterTower.

DEETS: WTT, 15650 Addison Road. Through Oct. 24. $25–$40. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Uptown Players announces its 2011 season

On Tuesday night, Uptown Players hosted a nice turnout at the Kalita Humphreys Theater where they announced the roster for their 2011 season. They held off on announcing one production due to contractual reasons, but if it fits in with the rest, it should make quite a season — especially for the LGBT community. Joining Players producers Jeff Rane and Craig Lynch onstage was the cast of the upcoming show Closer to Heaven, the Pet Shop Boys musical which opens Oct. 1.

• Uptown Players will start the season with Thank You For Being a Friend, The Musical, a Golden Girls parody by Nick Brennan. Expect camp overdrive as the “women” aren’t too thrilled about a certain gay celebrity moving in next door. Who knew Lance Bass could be such a problem? The show runs Feb. 4–27 at the Rose Room inside Station 4.

• As part of the upcoming Foote Festival celebrating playwright Horton Foote, Uptown Players joins in with the regional premiere of his Pulitzer prize winning play, Young Man from Atlanta. The show runs April 1–17 at the Kalita.

• UP brings back Broadway Our Way in which local actors switch-hit showtunes. Men sing the women’s parts, vice versa and it’s a gay ol’ time. BOW runs May 6–15.

• The Twilight Zone theme played when they didn‘t announce their next show, which will run June 10–July 2. We know it’s a musical at least, but the official announcement will be made Feb.1.

• Victor/Victoria, the musical based on the Julie Andrews/James Garner 1982 film, will run July 29–Aug. 2.

• Personally, I thought their announcement of the Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival was the most exciting. The fest will feature cabaret sets, performances and plays with the musical Crazy, Just Like Me by Louis Sacco and Drew Gasparini as the centerpiece. The fest coincides with Dallas Pride and runs Sep. 9–17. The full schedule will also be announced Feb. 1.

• Finishing off the season will be The Temperamentals, a new play by Jon Marans which opened this year off-Broadway. The site notes that the play “‘tells the story of two men – the communist Harry Hay and the Viennese refugee and designer Rudi Gernreich — as they fall in love while building the first gay rights organization in the pre-Stonewall United States.”

—  Rich Lopez