REVIEWS: ‘Evita,’ ‘Spunk’

caroline bowman as eva peron with CheFor many, Evita was the show that won over musical theater fans to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s side before he became the bombastic hit-monster of Cats and Sunset Boulevard. In some ways, it’s the most unlikely of musical subjects: The machiavellian machinations of the former first lady of Argentina, Eva Peron, who was long-dead by the time the show opened. And yet, it’s a compelling piece of operatic theater, a kind of political tragedy where Lady Macbeth never has second thoughts.

The original production made stars out of Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin (Madonna made the movie version 17 years later). The version now at Fair Park Music Hall, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals, doesn’t reach those legendary heights, but it’s a reminder of how solidly entertaining and innovative Evita has always been.

It’s the day Eva (Caroline Bowman) has died, and a disgruntled Che Guevara (Josh Young) seems alone in his lack of sentiment. Was she a devil or a saint? Madonna or whore? Is it possible to be all of these things? Through flashbacks, Che narrates her calculated rise from rural nobody to radio star to wife of military hero and eventual president Juan Peron (Sean MacLaughlin).

This is the national tour of the recent Broadway revival that starred Ricky Martin. Ricky doesn’t she-bang in this one, but with Tony Award nominee Josh Young in the role of Che, it doesn’t matter much — he has a powerful tenor and a fierce indignation (especially evident in the fantasy number “Waltz for Eva and Che”).

He’s not the only strong performance, though — indeed, of the many productions I’ve seen of Evita this is the first where all five man roles are equally well played. Bowman’s transformation from girl-from-the-sticks to trashy actress to steely political wife to, eventually, a frail and cancer-ridden ghost, is endlessly convincing. MacLaughlin is a strong, sexy Peron, and even Christopher Johnstone, as the cheezy singer Magaldi and Krystine Alabado as Peron’s former mistress do excellent, detailed work. Michael Grandage’s direction keeps the show moving effortlessly, and despite a few missed opportunities for irony and character development, it’s a stellar show, not revived often enough.

KA2_8128Up at the Addison Theatre Centre, WaterTower Theatre has its own stellar musical on the boards. Based on three short stories by Zora Neale Hurston, Spunk is a jaunty little 90-minute show that has the smoky appeal of a Lenox Avenue speakeasy in the 1930s.

Liz Mikel is this show’s Che, a kind of narrator who escort us through three unrelated scenes by one of the few female voices to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance. The stories are largely unrelated both in tale and tone, but Hurston’s clear, precise style bursts through each of them. In one, a woman (Tiffany D. Hobbs) in the rural south endures the abuses of her drunken husband … until an opportunity presents itself that may free her. In another, zoot-suited dandies throw more shade than a drag queen at noon as they try to woo a liberated woman in post-War NYC. In the third, a loving family man deals with the anguish caused when his wife cheats on him in a weird twist on The Gift of the Magi.

This is toe-tapping theater, full of energy and dark beauty, magnificently lighted by Jason C. Foster (who imbues the Art Deco, Gatsby-inspired set with fire and mood) and performed by a gifted cast. Just try not to have a good time.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

LGBT celebs tweet responses to Obama’s support of marriage equality

The big news of the day for LGBT Americans is President Obama’s vocal support of marriage equality which he stated in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. After the jump, read just a select few tweets from LGBT celebs who took to the Twitter-verse with their responses to Obama.

—  Rich Lopez

GBM News posts its top gay celebrities of color

CNN anchor tops GBM News' list.

Over the weekend, GBM News executive editor Nathan James posted his top 15 gay celebs of color. His list started as a response to  MSN’s Wonderwall listing of its top queer celebs wielding the most influence, but was also noticeably lacking in its diverse demographics (save for Perez Hilton, who is of Cuban descent).

James’ list introduces some gay celebs people might not immediately consider such as singer Tracy Chapman at No. 8 or CNN anchor Don Lemon at the top of the list. But I’m not really sure how he figures in Noah’s Arc alum Darryl Stephens’ guest stint on Private Practice at No. 11 as influential or RuPaul’s relatively low ranking at No. 7. While he does include George Takei in the mix, his list lacks any Latinos. That begs the question: Where is Ricky Martin?  From James on GBM News:

One of the “interesting” things about their list, was that there wasn’t a single gay celebrity of color on it. I bethought myself to rectify that oversight by creating and publishing my own list of the 15 most powerful gay celebrities of color. The response I got from that piece was, by far, the most overwhelming public reaction to any article I’d ever written up to that time. Some applauded my choices, others vehemently disagreed with them, and still others asked why their own personal choices missed the cut. Well, this year, I’m at it again, with a completely new list that’s sure to provoke more debate and stir more passionate discussion.  Submitted for your approval, here are my picks for the fifteen most powerful gay celebrities for 2012!

Of course, these lists are all subjective, but James thankfully adds to the conversation of who gays and lesbians may see as influential within the community.

 

—  Rich Lopez

Will any of One Direction come out? These boy bands from the past give us reason to wonder

The boy band phenomenon seems to be on the comeback with groups like The Wanted and Hot Chelle Rae making waves. But One Direction quickly has risen to the top of the heap causing a new British Invasion among mobs of teenage girls waiting to marry any one of the five singers. Cute boys. Pop songs. Big sellers. They have all the makings of hit makers following in the footsteps of ‘N Sync. Now we’re just wondering who will be the next Lance Bass. Some people have already been asking, anyway, so why can’t we?

These boy bands have all had members come out later in their career and for that we are thankful. So Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry or Louis, if any of you taste the rainbow down the road, you’ll be in pretty good company.

—  Rich Lopez

Fox goes uber-gay with ‘Allen Gregory,’ ‘American Dad’

Say what you want about their news channel and their leadership, but Sunday night on the Fox broadcast network was about as gay as TV gets.

It started, of course, with The Simpsons, one of the most gay-friendly shows on TV (though Sunday night’s was only gayish — it dealt with foodies). Also on deck was Family Guy — again, a tres gay series with a queer little baby who wants to take over the world and characters who break out into Broadway production numbers at the drop of a hat. We’re used to that.

But it reached new heights of homophilia with Allen Gregory and American Dad.

Allen Gregory is the new series from Jonah Hill. The premise of the show is already inherently queer: Two gay dads, pictured, rear their pretentious little 7-year-old Allen Gregory. There have been, in the previous few outings, several jokes per episode about gay sex between the pompous dad Richard (voiced by French Stewart) and his butch, derided partner Jeremy. But last night, not only were the dads central characters, the plot was all about a school dance where all the students in the elementary school were expected to ask same-sex partners to the dance. This is edgy stuff for established cable shows, but for “family night” on a freshman series?! Wow. The episode was not only funny (I’m already a huge fan of the series), but also witheringly insightful about perceptions of gay people. And the attempted seduction of Jeremy by Richard (including dropped towel) was hilarious.

That was followed by American Dad — again, well-established with a gay history, from the out couple across the street to the fey alien Roger who lives in the attic. But Roger finally met someone romantic … and it turned out the be Ricky Martin. The episode included Ricky and Roger kissing on a couch (and they were really going at it). You gotta love that!

I hope the ratings for both shows are good, and they are certainly worth a Hulu.com (here for American Dad, here for Allen Gregory) visit. Enjoy!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: CSS at the Granada and Ricky Martin at Verizon Theatre on Friday

Friday night was big for LGBT music as CSS, pictured, and Ricky Martin hit the town. CSS is primarily made up of LGBT-ers, but that’s not a thing with them. In this 2008 interview, the Brazilian band just wants to rock it and the video below shows they probably did just that.

Ricky Martin was all kinds of sexy at Verizon delivering an energetic show from the start. Even the ballads were pumped up as the audience sang along with every word. He knocked this show out of the park and his fan base hasn’t seemed to wane a bit ever since he came out last year. He encore’d with “The Best Thing About Me is You,” which is the video below (with singalong). Also, view our slideshow from the concert here.

—  Rich Lopez

Ricky Martin at Verizon Theatre

—  Rich Lopez

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

This week we talked about the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s upcoming vote on transgender protections; Commissioner Maurine Dickey and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit; the Texas A&M Student Senate’s anti-gay vote this week; the controversial decision to charge admission for the Festival in Lee Park; Ricky Martin’s show in Dallas last night; and more.

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—  John Wright

Ricky Martin tonight at Verizon Theatre

La vida out and proud

Not only did Ricky Martin come out in one of the most eloquent ways ever, he took to using his celebrity in advocating for LGBT rights. That only made him sexier than he already is. As if he needed to add to his hotness, he’s been baring a whole lot more skin lately — and we likey.

DEETS: Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place., Grand Prairie  8 p.m. $40–$126. Ticketmaster.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 04.22

Life is a … oh, you know it
This doesn’t look like your usual Liza version. The Dallas Theater Center stages the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret, and by the looks of their ad campaign, it’s going to be sizzling. Sure Sally Bowles is the central character, but weren’t you always intrigued by the mysterious master of ceremonies? We’re even more so now.

DEETS: Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. Through May 22. $10–$80. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

 

Friday 04.22

La vida out and proud
Not only did Ricky Martin come out in one of the most eloquent ways ever, he took to using his celebrity in advocating for LGBT rights. That only made him sexier than he already is. As if he needed to add to his hotness, he’s been baring a whole lot more skin lately — and we likey.

DEETS: Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place., Grand Prairie  8 p.m. $40–$126.
Ticketmaster.com.

 

Saturday 04.23

Street art a different way
Before celebrating Easter in the Park, check-in to the Cedar Springs Art Festival. Local art, food booths and snowcones make this a must. Plus, it’s probably the only art fest with dance music.

DEETS: Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street. 10 a.m. Free. ShopCedarSprings.com.

—  John Wright