The gay interview: Andrew Rannells of “The New Normal”

I met Andrew Rannells on two occasions. The first was a strange circumstance about five years ago: I was headed to the Fair Park Music Hall to meet him and other members of the touring cast of Jersey Boys when my car was T-boned (the other driver’s fault). Nevertheless, I still made it to the interview, albeit a bit late. I got quite a few “attaboys” for showing up at all.

The last was just briefly about two and a half years ago, when he was starring in a show at the Dallas Theater Center called Give It Up. The show finally made it Broadway with a different title — Lysistrata Jones — only Rannells wasn’t in it. Instead, he’d taken on a different role in a musical: The Book of Mormon, which netted him a Tony Award nomination in the biggest hit since The Producers.

ATTPAC just announced last week that The Book of Mormon would be part of its 2013-14 lineup, but once again, Rannels won’t be in it — instead, he’s starring in one of the hit shows of the fall, NBC’s The New Normal, and out actor gets to play gay … and boy does he.

Our Chris Azzopardi got to chat with Rannells a few weeks ago, and I thought it might be a good time to run the story. The next episode airs tonight.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Dallas Pride Weekend is just around the corner, but the week leading up to it is jam-packed with events.

It’s the first weekend after Labor Day, which means theaters are churning out openings. Among the shows you can see this week: Rent at Theatre Arlington, The Second City Does Dallas at the Dallas Theater Center, the sexually complex Or, from Echo Theatre (at the Bath House, pictured above), War Horse at the Winspear as part of the Lexus Broadway Series and an entire selection of short plays courtesy of Uptown Players’ second annual Pride Performing Arts Festival. But we gotta say, the show we’re kinda most looking forward to this weekend is The Most Happy Fella at Lyric Stage. The rarely performed Frank Loesser musical (which immortalized our town in the song “Big D”) gets the fully orchestrated treatment courtesy of musical director Jay Dias, whom we profiled last month. Lyric only does two weekends of shows; it’s too bad, because they usually do a fantastic job. Cheryl Denson directs, too!

It’s not just theater, though, that takes to the stage. Drag diva Coco Peru performs her show at the Rose Room starting Thursday, unofficially launching Pride in Dallas. Best of all? Dallas Voice readers get a discount off tickets of up to 40 percent, just by using the promo code VOICE when they order here. And you can also see an actual theater — not something performed on its stages — by taking one of the behind-the-scenes architectural tours of the new City Performance Hall, which begins its gala weekend celebration on Thursday.

And if the Democratic National Convention only whetted your appetite for hearing gay people talked about on TV, tune into The New Normal on NBC at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, for the newest sitcom about gay life that could very well be the next Will & Grace … only this time, it looks more like Will & Jack.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay stuff on the new TV schedules for NBC, Fox

Hasbian Anne Heche is part of NBC's fall season lineup.

NBC was the first broadcast network to release its 2012 fall season lineup, and there’s gay stuff old and new on it.

The gayest addition is probably Ryan Murphy’s new half-hour one-camera sitcom The New Normal, about a gay couple (Justin Bartha, Andrew Rannells of B’way’s Book of Mormon), who hire a woman to be the surrogate for their child. (Watch the clip after the jump — looks pretty funny.) Rannells was in Dallas a few years ago in the world premiere of Lysistrata Jones (then called Give It Up) at DTC.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones