REVIEW: ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’

GGLAM Tour 3In the 1940s and ’50s, Britain’s Ealing Studios dominated the landscape of sophisticated dark comedies. The Man in the White Suit, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers all starred the great Alec Guinness as the deadpan anti-hero in outrageous adventures that were far to smart to just be labeled farces. One of Guinness’ best roles, though, was actually eight roles: All the family members (young/old, male/female, gentle/wicked) tapped as victims of a murderous social-climbing illegitimate heir to an hereditary earldom in the cultural commentary Kind Hearts and Coronets. A comedy about murder? It might not have been the first, but it remains one of the best, and gave Guinness a signature turn at creating multiple memorable characters with abandon. (In recent years, no one but Eddie Murphy has really tried to replicate that feat, or at least done so successfully.)

The 2014 Broadway musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder isn’t a carbon-copy of the Ealing film (the ending is different, and of course it’s a musical), but it’s just as withering in its dissection of the British classes… and it gives actor John Rapson free rein to horse around as all the members of the D’Ysquith family, soon to be knocked off my young, ambitious Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey), the disinherited black sheep of the D’Ysquiths who wants to become earl so he can marry his gold-digging girlfriend … even though he’s actually falling for his distant cousin.

This production, at the Winspear through Sunday, had the good sense to be as fluffy and delightful as cotton candy, with a stage-within-a-stage that adds a layer of artifice: It’s an old-style English music hall, a vaudeville of jaunty songs and colorful costumes and sets. (The show it most calls to mind for theater queens might be The Mystery of Edwin Drood.) Nevertheless, writer Robert L. Freedman sneaks in some saucy political commentary among the one-liners. It’s a fanciful and clever show, a bright respite from the summer heat.

At the Winspear through Aug. 28.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

And the Tony Award goes to…

LMMIt was a somber night to be presenting entertainment awards but the Tonys managed to pull it off, with a respectful opening invocation and with speeches peppered throughout that called for unity, diversity, tolerance and even sanity in light of the horrific massacre in Orlando. And as if guided by providence, the big winner of the night, as expected, was a testament to scrappy American wherewithal — the hip-hop historical tour de force Hamilton, which took 11 total awards, including best musical.

It was unlikely the show would break the record for wins — 12, held by The Producers — even with its record-setting 16 nominations, in part because it was so often in competition for itself. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s creator, had to make due with two wins (score and book of a musical) out of three nominations — he lost best leading actor to Leslie Odom Jr. … for Hamilton. The show also took home trophies for best featured actor (Daveed Diggs), featured actress (Renee Elise Goldsberry), director of a musical, orchestrations, choreography, costume design for a musical and lighting design for a musical. It only outright lost in two categories — scenic design of a musical (which won She Loves Me its only Tony) and best actress in a musical, which went to Cynthia Erivo as Celie in the new production of The Color Purple, which also best best musical revival.

In the play category, the night’s big winner was out producer Scott Rudin, who was lead producer on both best play winner The Humans (which also won for best featured actor Reed Birney, best featured actress Jayne Houdyshell, and best scenic design of a play ) and best revival of a play winner A View from the Bridge, which also took best director of a play honors. Leading actress in a play went to Jessica Lange for Long Day’s Journey into Night, which also won for lighting design of a play. Best actor in a play was four-timer Frank Langella in The Father, and Eclipsed won its only award for best costume design for a play.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Dallas actors create a ‘Hamilton’ video that deserves to go viral

Screen shot 2016-06-10 at 1.04.02 PMOn Sunday night, Hamilton — the amazing, hip-hop musical tour of Colonial history — is primed to all but sweep the Tony Awards. Why the surge? Because it’s often years between truly culturally-changing musicals (the last was probably The Book of Mormon), and this one has tons of support. People love it. Love it. It can be scary. (Theater queens are scary anyway.)

So Dallas theater folks — among them Rob McCollum, Kristin McCollum, Jessica Cavanagh, Gregory Lush and many more — decided to offer some medical help for your Hamilton addiction… and it requires you put your tongue firmly in cheek. “Hamilaria” is the 3-minute video, a purported commercial for a treatment center (the made-up Weehawken Institute) that treats those suffering from #Hamilaria, the condition of constantly finishing sentences with lyrics from the original cast recording. Barely 24 hours since it came on YouTube, it’s already been retweeted by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda… and you might wanna get on the ground floor and help it go viral. (Side effects may include spontaneous rapping, bursts of laughter and throwing signs with your fingers.) Watch it once, and you’ll be back… and if you don’t get that reference… well, you soon will…

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Hamilton’ dominates Tony Award nominations

LMMTo the surprise of no one, the hit Broadway musical Hamilton — already the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant and the adoration of theater queens the world over — dominated the Tony nominations this morning with 16 overall nominations, the most ever in the 70-year history of the awards. The awards will be presented June 12.

Here is a list of all the nominees.

Musical categories

Musical: Bright Star; Hamilton; School of Rock — The Musical; Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed; Waitress.

RevivalThe Color Purple; Fiddler on the Roof; She Loves Me; Spring Awakening.

Book: Bright Star; Hamilton; School of Rock; Shuffle Along.

ScoreBright Star; Hamilton; School of Rock — The Musical; Shuffle Along; Waitress.

Choreography: Hamilton; Dames at Sea; Shuffle Along; Fiddler on the Roof; On Your Heat.

OrchestrationsBright Star; Hamilton; She Loves Me; Shuffle Along.

Director: Michael Arden, Spring Awakening; John Doyle, The Color Purple; Scott Ellis, She Loves Me; Thomas Kail, Hamilton; George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along.

Actor: Alex Brightman, School of Rock; Danny Burstein, Fiddler on the Roof; Zachary Levi, She Loves Me; Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton; Leslie Odom, Jr., Hamilton.

Actress: Laura Benanti, She Loves Me; Carmen Cusack, Bright Star; Cynthia Envo, The Color Purple; Jessie Mueller, Waitress; Phillipa Soo, Hamilton.

Featured Actor: Daveed Diggs, Hamilton; Brandon Victor Dixon, Shuffle Along; Christopher Fitzgerald, Waitress; Jonathan Groff, Hamilton; Christopher Jackson, Hamilton.

Featured Actress: Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple; Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton; Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me; Jennifer Simard, Disaster!; Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along.

Scenic: American Psycho; Hamilton; Shuffle Along; She Loves Me.

CostumesTuck Everlasting; She Loves Me; Shuffle Along; Hamilton.

LightingHamilton; American Psycho; Shuffle Along; Spring Awakening.

Play categories

Play: Eclipsed; The Humans; King Charles III; The Father.

RevivalThe Crucible; A View from the Bridge; Blackbird; Long Day’s Journey into Night; Noises Off.

Director: Rupert  Goold, King Charles III; Jonathan Kent, Long Day’s Journey into Night; Joe Mantello, The Humans; Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed; Ivo Van Hove, A View from the Bridge.

Actor: Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey; Jeff Daniels, Blackbird; Frank Langella, The Father; Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III; Mark Strong, A View from the Bridge.

Actress: Jessica Lange, Long Day’s Journey; Laurie Metcalf, Misery; Lupita Nyong’o, Eclipsed; Sophie Okonedo, The Crucible; Michelle Williams, Blackbird.

Featured Actor: Reed Birney, The Humans; Bill Camp, The Crucible; David Furr, Noises Off; Richard Goulding, King Charles III; Michael Shannon, Long Day’s Journey.

Featured Actress: Pascale Armand, Eclipsed; Megan Hilty, Noises Off; Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans; Andrea Martin, Noises Off; Saycon Sengbloh, Eclipsed.

Scenic: Therese Raquin; Hughie; A View from the Bridge; The Humans.

Costumes: Long Day’s Journey; Noises Off; Eclipsed; King Charles III.

Lighting: Long Day’s Journey; The Humans; The Crucible; A View from the Bridge.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas-produced ‘The Visit’ posts closing notice

loftisAfter Sunday night’s Tony Awards ceremony, which saw two new musicals garnering the lion’s share of awards, The Visitco-produced by Dallas’ Terry Loftis and starring stage legend Chita Rivera — saw that a boost in box office after the awards wasn’t in the card. Yesterday, the show posted its closing notice for June 14. I should close with 61 total performance, plus 32 previews.

While this will be the last original Kander & Ebb musical ever — and, realistically, Rivera’s last trodding of the boards — it’s not the end of the road for Loftis, who told me last month he already has two more shows in the words as a producer … revivals of Kander & Ebb shows. The dream continues.


—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DSM, PAFW announce 2015–16 seasons

THE-PHANTOM-OF-THE-OPERADallas Summer Musicals and Performing Arts Fort Worth, which this season teamed up to present several shows together (first in Dallas, then in Cowtown), chose a few hours before the Tony Awards to announce their upcoming 2015-16 seasons, which will again have several cross-over shows.

DSM’s season will kick off with a new version of The Sound of Music (Nov. 3–22), followed by the Christmas show Elf (Dec. 8–20), The Bridges of Madison County (which last year won the Tony for its score, Feb. 2–14, 2016), the return of The Little Mermaid (March 11–27), Ragtime (May 24–June 5), the recent Bullets Over Broadway (June 14–26), 42nd Street (June 28–July 10), plus a bonus presentation of Wicked (April 20–May 22).

PAFW begins its season with The Book of Mormon (Dec. 1–6), Motown (Jan. 13–17, 2016, which will play in July at DSM), a new production of The Wizard of Oz (June 7–12) and Phantom of the Opera (Oct. 20–30). It will co-present Little Mermaid (March 29–April 3, right after DSM’s run), 42nd Street (July 12–17. after DSM) and The Sound of Music (Aug. 17–21) with DSM. Add-on productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Sept. 18–20), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Nov. 24–25), Blue Man Group (Feb. 19–21, 2016) Mamma Mia! (May 20–22),  and will also be in the line-up.

In addition, Performing Arts Fort Worth has two shows at the McDavid Studio, one of which we exclusively broke earlier this year: Dixie’s Never Wear a Tubetop While Riding a Mechanical Bull (and 16 Other Things I Learned While I Was Drinking Last Thursday) (Nov. 11–22, 2015) and Back to School Catechism: The Holy Ghost and Other Terrifying Tales (Oct. 5–9, 2016).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tony Award nominations are always a theater queen’s wet dream

Chita Rivera, a Tony nominee for ‘The Visit’

When the Oscar and Emmy and Grammy nominations come out, many of those who follow the awards have already seen (or heard) the contenders, or plan to soon, and have an opinion about who was robbed and who was justly feted. Not so the Tony Award nominations, which came out this morning. Some of the nominated shows opened as recently as last weekend, so that only a handful of New Yorkers have even had a chance to take them in; some closed after brief runs months ago.

But theater queens being who they are, they still can’t wait to hear who made the shortlist … which, more so than any other major award, is flush with GLBT folks.

Take for instance The Visit, with book by gay author Terrence McNally and co-starring out actor Roger Rees. Here’s all you need to know: 82-year-old Chita Rivera, who stars in it, is nominated for best actress in a musical. Who doesn’t get goosebumps hearing that? Then again, she has to face off against a few other icons of the theatuh, including Kristin Chenoweth (On the Twentieth Century) and Kelli O’Hara (The King and I). (Rees, a former Tony winner, is not among the male acting nominees.)

A lot of shows with big buzz are also in the running for awards, which will be handed out Sunday, June 7. Lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s acclaimed musical Fun Home is hotly fancied for best musical and best score. And Broadway has a way of wooing movie and TV stars into prime jobs — Helen Mirren (The Audience), Elizabeth Moss (The Heidi Chronicles), Bradley Cooper (The Elephant Man), and and Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan (Skylight) are all up for acting awards, as is North Texas native (and former Tony winner) Julie White.

Perhaps some of the pleasantest awards, though, already have winners. John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote, directed and starred in the original off-Broadway production (and film) of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is being honored with a special Tony; Texas native Tommy Tune is being honored with a special Tony for lifetime in the theater; and after 40 years in the business but no Tony statuette to show for it (he does have a few Oscars, as consolation), legendary B’way composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, etc.) is the winner of the Isabelle Stevenson Award.

Here is a full list of the nominees:

Best Musical: An American in Paris; Fun Home; Something Rotten!; The Visit.

Best Play: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Disgraced; Hand to God; Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2.

Best Revival of a Musical: The King and I; On the Town; On the Twentieth Century.

Best Revival of a Play: The Elephant Man; Skylight; This Is Our Youth; You Cant Take It With You.

Best Leading Actor in a Play: Steven Boyer, Hand to God; Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man; Ben Miles, Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2; Bill Nighy, Skylight; Alex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Best Leading Actress in a Play: Geneva Carr, Hand to God; Helen Mirren, The Audience; Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles; Carey Mulligan, Skylight; Ruth Wilson, Constellations.

Best Leading Actor in a Musical: Michael Cerveris, Fun Home; Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris; Brian dArcy James, Something Rotten!; Ken Watanabe, The King and I; Tony Yazbeck, On the Town.

Best Leading Actress in a Musical: Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century; Leanne Cope, An American in Paris; Beth Malone, Fun Home; Kelli O’Hara, The King and I; Chita Rivera, The Visit.

Best Book of a Musical: An American in Paris, Craig Lucas; Fun Home, Lisa Kron; Something Rotten!, Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell; The Visit, Terrence McNally.

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics): Fun Home, Music: Jeanine Tesori, Lyrics: Lisa Kron; The Last Ship, Music and Lyrics: Sting; Something Rotten!, Music and Lyrics: Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick; The Visit, Music: John Kander, Lyrics: Fred Ebb.

Best Featured Actor in a Play: Matthew Beard, Skylight; K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway; Richard McCabe, The Audience; Alessandro Nivola, The Elephant Man; Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2; Micah Stock, It’s Only a Play.

Best Featured Actress in a Play: Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You; Patricia Clarkson, The Elephant Man; Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2; Sarah Stiles, Hand to God; Julie White, Airline Highway.

Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Christian Borle, Something Rotten!; Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century; Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!; Brandon Uranowitz, An American in Paris; Max von Essen, An American in Paris.

Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Victoria Clark, Gigi; Judy Kuhn, Fun Home; Sydney Lucas, Fun Home; Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I; Emily Skeggs, Fun Home.

Best Direction of a Play: Stephen Daldry, Skylight; Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Scott Ellis, You Can’t Take It with You; Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2; Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Hand to God.

Best Direction of a Musical: Sam Gold, Fun Home; Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!; John Rando, On the Town; Bartlett Sher, The King and I; Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris.

Best Choreography: Joshua Bergasse, On the Town; Christopher Gattelli, The King and I; Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!; Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris.

Best Scenic Design of a Play: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Skylight; Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2; You Can’t Take It with You.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical: An American in Paris; On the Twentieth Century; The King and I; Fun Home.

Best Costume Design of a Play: The Audience; You Can’t Take It with You; Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2; Airline Highway.

Best Costume Design of a Musical: Something Rotten!; An American in Paris; On the Twentieth Century; The King and I.

Best Lighting Design of a Play: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Wolf Hall Parts 1 and 2; Skylight; Airline Highway.

Best Lighting Design of a Musical: The King and I; An American in Paris; Fun Home; The Visit.

Best Orchestrations: An American in Paris; Fun Home; Something Rotten!; The Last Ship.

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater: Tommy Tune.

Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award: Stephen Schwartz.

Regional Theatre Tony Award: Cleveland Play House.

Special Tony Award: John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theater: Arnold Abramson; Adrian Bryan-Brown; Gene O’Donovan.


—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Billy Porter: The gay interview


With our Applause Edition coming out Friday, we thought we’d prime the pump a little with some Broadway glamour. And you don’t get much more glamorous nowadays that the sexy leather thigh-highs of Kinky Boots, which will be on tour in North Texas twice in 2015 (as you can read about Friday in Applause!).

For his first solo album since becoming a Tony and Grammy award-winner, Billy Porter — Broadway’s kinkiest drag queen — is taking off the corset and stepping out of those iconic heels. With Billy’s Back on Broadway, the crooner continues to honor his passion for musical theater, taking on songs made popular by some of the most revered legends: Liza Minnelli (“But the World Goes ’Round”), Judy Garland (“Happy Days Are Here Again / Get Happy”) and Barbra Streisand (“Don’t Rain On My Parade”).

With the Tony Award nominations just out this week, we decided to chat with last year’s toast of B’way. Porter talks with our Chris Azzopardi about his fondness for strong women, how he aspires to be Cyndi Lauper (whom he calls “one of the godmothers of individuality”) and the personal catharsis he’s experienced while transforming into a woman for Kinky Boots.

Dallas Voice: Was winning the Tony for best actor in a musical last year one of those surreal moments where you give your speech, and then walk away and it all becomes a haze and you wonder what the hell you just said?  Billy Porter: No — because I wrote it! I had to write it down. I have amazing people and friends, and my manager of 23 years, Bill Butler, and one of my dear friends Jordan Thaler, both said to me before it happened, “Look, you have a one in five chance of winning. Write something down. Write it down!” And they know I’m not the kind of person who wants to come across as being cocky or anything, so they both were like, “It’s not being cocky; it’s honoring the moment. It’s better to be prepared and to be able to look back at this time and, if it happens, have had said something intelligent.” I said what I wanted to say as opposed to getting up there and fooling around, so I’m glad that they made me write it.

You’re right, though: Some people think it comes off as cocky when people prepare a speech.  And it’s actually really not. Lemme write something down so I don’t look like Boo Boo the Clown up there.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tony Awards are, once again, very gay

NPH performingPlano native Brian J. Smith was the unfortunate runner-up to three-time winner Mark Rylance at the Tony Awards last night, but our disappointment is lessened slightly by some noteworthy victories.

Six plays and six musicals split the 15 awards handed out Sunday night, which failed to see a clear favorite: Two shows won four awards apiece, and two won three.

Rylance took the first award of the evening, for best featured actor in a play, for Twelfth Night, defeating Smith in The Glass MenagerieMenagerie won only one award, for lighting of a play; Twelfth Night also won for best costume design of a play. Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way, a one-man show with Bryan Cranston playing Texan LBJ, won best play and best actor in a play.

Audra McDonald made history, winning her sixth acting Tony (she now has one in every female acting category, this time for lead actress in a play) playing Billie Holliday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.

The big winner for plays, though, was A Raisin in the Sun, which won revival of a play, director of a play (Kenny Leon) and featured actress in a play (Sophie Okonedo).

Gay fave Neil Patrick Harris, pictured, was a popular favorite when he won for best actor in a musical for his turn in the cross-dressing rock opera Hedwig and the Angry InchHedwig won three other awards: best featured actress for Lena Hall, best lighting of a musical and best revival of a musical.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the standout hit of the season, took the prizes for best musical, book of a musical, director of a musical and costumes for a musical. Beautiful, the musical based on the life of songwriter Carole King, won best actress in a musical (Jessie Mueller), best sound and set design for a musical. The score award went to The Bridges of Madison County, which also won for best orchestrations.

The show clocked in at just more than three hours, with Hugh Jackman as host. Many of the technical awards were presented off-camera and only announced during the broadcast, and there was no “in memoriam” for those theater folks who have died. There was, however, time for a performance of a musical about Peter Pan, Finding Neverland, which has not opened and has not even booked an opening date yet.

Additional winners:

Featured actor in a musical: James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin

Choreography: After Midnight

Set design of a play: Act One.

Sound design of a play: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cyndi Lauper, who’ll be at HOB on Wed., talks ‘Kinky Boots,’ gay rights

Cyndi2Even before this year’s Tonys, the legendary Cyndi Lauper was already considered a champion: A champion of the Grammys. A champion of the pop charts. A champion of gay rights.

But as a teary-eyed Lauper accepted her Tony statuette for composing the music for the smash Kinky Boots (it also was named best musical of the year, and four other Tonys), the coming-of-age sensation about a drag queen and a shoemaker as unlikely business partners, she was recognized for something she had never been before: The girl who just wanted to have fun, with her apple-red hair and heavy Queens accent, is now a champion of Broadway.

Between gigs on her She’s So Unusual Tour, which opens at the House of Blues in Dallas on Wednesday, Lauper gave our Chris Azzopardi a ring recently to chat about her emotional night at the awards ceremony, freaking out rock stars with her “wildly nutty” persona and the reason she’s always stood up for her gay fans. Read the full interview below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones