Uptown Players is lookin’ for some guys to get nekkid

When Uptown Players announced last summer that their upcoming 2012 season would include the Tony Award winner Take Me Out, everyone familiar with the Broadway show knew immediate what they meant: Naked ballplayers.

The plot of Take Me Out deals with a (fictional) Derek Jeter-type who (hypothetically, Derek!) comes out, and throws his MLB team and the sport as a whole into a frenzy. As followers know, it includes a locker room scene loaded with clothing-free athletes engaged in good natured (and definitely homoerotic) horseplay.  Of the cast of 10 male roles, seven require nudity.

Which brings me to my point: Please, please, actors out there — audition if you look like a baseball player, not if you simply go to the gym and want to show off, or just liked to get naked and aren’t ashamed of your body. My biggest complaint with plays set in the sporting world is, the actors need to look like athletes. That does not mean (necessarily) pretty boys; hairless twinks may be nice to look at in a magazine, but just pick up Sports Illustrated (or review footage of the Rangers’ World Series appearance) and notice that baseballers come in a lot of sizes and styles. Some are kinda beefy (especially the power hitters) and don’t have Michael Phelps’ build. Don’t be afraid to audition just because you aren’t  sculpted good. Theatergoers (and sports fans) want realism, not abs.

Auditions begin Nov. 28 and continue through callbacks on Dec. 4; video submissions are accepted. Click here for more information, including sides.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Uptown Players sets line-up for 2012 season

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AM BUSCH | Coy Covington (in ‘Die Mommie, Die!’) returns to his roots in drag acting by once again serving as Charles Busch’s surrogate in ‘The Divine Sister.’

Uptown Players begins its third season at the Kalita Humphreys Theater next year, with a lineup that numbers among its gayest ever.

“I don’t wanna say it’s more gay, but I definitely feel it has more gay aspects than some recent seasons,” said co-founder Craig Lynch.
As usual, the season includes a drama, a comedy and two musicals, plus several bonus shows.

The 11th season kicks off Feb. 3, 2012, with Take Me Out, gay playwright Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award-winner about the reaction when a professional baseball player comes out of the closet. WaterTower Theatre last produced the show locally in 2006.

That’s immediately followed by Broadway Our Way on March 16, the annual fundraiser that showcases musical numbers traditionally sung by men being sung by women and vice versa.

As with this season, Uptown will clear out of the Kalita for a few months while the Dallas Theater Center, which still holds the lease on the building, mounts two shows in the space: God of Carnage and Next Fall. In the meantime, the troupe will return to the stage of the Rose Room for The Silence of the Clams, another of its comic spoofs, again written by Jamie Morris (The Fact of Life: The Lost Episode). It opens April 27.

On July 13, Coy Covington returns to his wheelhouse performing in drag in the most recent Charles Busch comedy, The Divine Sister. This will be Covington’s fourth go as Busch’s surrogate for Uptown. “We saw it off-Broadway and met with Busch,” Lynch said. “His production of the play is touring but is not coming to Dallas, so we snatched up the rights.”

Uptown will then attempt what is arguably its biggest production to date when it tackles  Mel Brooks’ mega musical The Producers. It also happens to be one of the gayest mainstream smashes in the history of Broadway. National tours have come to North Texas, but this will be the first major local production. It opens Aug. 24.

The season will end on Oct. 5 with Hello Again, gay composer Michael John LaChuisa’s musical play about relationships through the decades. John de los Santos will direct.

It’s an ambitious season for the company that began soon after 9/11 in a 120-seat space off Stemmons but is now only the second troupe to be a resident company at the historic Kalita Humphreys. When they started, did they ever think they’d mount something as big as The Producers?

“Heck, no!” said Lynch. “We were debating whether to do The Producers for a year now but after doing research I see how it can work. We’ve learned some valuable lessons in the space. We know we need to scale back here and be more abstract there. We were used to a small space and small-scale thinking; now we times that by a hundred.”

— A.W.J.

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

—  Kevin Thomas