Tony noms are, as always, super-gay

Kinky Boots

When it comes to the Oscars and the Emmys, gay folks often latch onto minor categories to get our queer fix: Jim Parsons and Neil Patrick Harris and Jane Lynch for TV, more obscure categories like documentary short and adapted screenplay for the movies having the gay nominees; when a movie like Brokeback Mountain gets nominated a lot, we salivate.

One needn’t look nearly so hard with the Tony Awards, however. The announcement this morning of the nominees in theater is fairly flush with gay-interest candidates. (Heck, even Jesse Tyler Ferguson announced the nominees with the queens’ favorite Sutton Foster.)

The big vote-getter was Kinky Boots, pictured, with 13 nominations, including for it gay author (Harvey Fierstein), gay director/choreographer (Jerry Mitchell) and gay star (Billy Porter, who is up against Dallas native Stark Sands). Porter and Sands will compete against Bertie Carvel as a cross-dressing headmistress in the hit transplant from London, Matilda The Musical. (Adored gay rights activist Cyndi Lauper is also nominated for her score for Kinky Boots.)

Douglas Carter Beane, who re-wrote the script for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, was nominated for book of a musical against Fierstein, though Bring It On‘s gay scribe, Jeff Whitty, was unfairly overlooked for his clever script. The show itself, however, is up for best musical and best choreography (well deserved) for out director/choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler.

In the play category, two of the authors of best play nominees (Richard Greenberg and Christopher Durang) will be up against each other for The Assembled Parties and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, respectively. And on Broadway, even the actors are proudly out: Nathan Lane (The Nance) and David Hyde Pierce (Vanya and…) are both up for best leading actor in a play.

Some gay faves are also in the running, including Stephanie J. Block (her first nomination!) for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Judith Light for The Assembled Parties and the Rum Tum Tugger himself, Terrence Mann, in Pippin. And Holland Taylor snapped up a best actress nod playing Texas legend Ann Richards in her tour de force show Ann.

Of course, not everyone we wanted got nominated. Bette Midler was overlooked for best actress playing hard-driving Hollywood agent Sue Mengers in I’ll Eat You Last from gay writer John Logan. Well, we do need something to bitch about …

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Constant craving

Constantine Maroulis is another kind of idol in ‘Rock of Ages’

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

HAIR APPARENT | Like Jennifer Hudson, Constantine Maroulis turned ‘American Idol’ also-ran status into acting cred. (Photo courtesy Dan Lippitt)

Save for Charlie Sheen, sometimes it’s not all about winning — but placing in the top 10 never hurts.

Coming in sixth on season 4 of American Idol has only been a boon for Constantine Maroulis. Without the scrutiny of a No. 1 finish but with plenty of national exposure, he landed high profile stage work (snagging a Tony nomination) and an upcoming album. And he’s far from done.

“I’m looking forward to what’s next and I want to continue new roles and projects,” he says. “I plan to tour and get the material out there. I’m a live performer and I wanna get my band out on the road. I wanna gig.”

If he sounds antsy, perhaps that’s because he recently announced an end to his three-year gig as Drew Bowie, the wannabe rocker in the jukebox musical Rock of Ages, which opens at the Winspear this week. His last performance isn’t until July, but in the meantime, he’s still ready to rock it.

“It’s been huge for me on many levels as an actor and being acknowledged by my community,” he says. “I was a rock star wannabe growing up with these songs from Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and other songs in my wheelhouse. This is a true artistic achievement and for it to all work out in this time when so many shows come and go, we’re kicking a lot of ass.”

Confident much? Oh yes. At times, Maroulis doles out a precious combination of swagger and thespic brazenness. He takes his work seriously, but his language can be as blown out as his luxurious mane.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished what I need,” he says. “With the five Tony nominations and now we’re a worldwide brand, I ask myself, ‘How the fuck did this kid do this every day for this many years?’ I mean, it’s pretty freaking impossible to do.”

But in a moment, he softens when he talks about his daughter. The rock star is gone and the doting dad appears.

“Malena was born this past December and I’m just so very thrilled,” he says. “And she’s growing up so fast, it’s amazing! I only get to see [her and her mother] every few weeks so that’s why I am looking forward to the end of this tour.”

With a family and budding career, American Idol doesn’t linger as much. While he’ll always be associated with it, Maroulis has proven to be a hot commodity on his own.

“I am a competitive person and I try to be No. 1,” he says, “but I think it was fate for me to go home early as it was fate for Carrie [Underwood] to win. She is the American idol. I like to fly a little more under the radar and have a nice flow of steady work.”

Heavy metal may not seem like the biggest gay draw, but lest people forget, it’s really just one step removed from drag: With the long hair, eyeliner and glitzy outfits, Rock of Ages tells Drew Bowie’s story of busboy-turned-rock-god with both comedy and ‘80s throwback tunes. Think of it as a swirl of the films Footloose and Rock Star with a heavy dash of Glee and glam metal — and it’s just as fabulous as Mamma Mia. As for Maroulis, whatever the medium, it’s about the art.

Just don’t ask him if he’s ever forgotten the words to a song.

“Well no, but now you jinxed me,” he says.
My bad.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.


—  Kevin Thomas

Concert week continues with Green Day at Superpages

Punks can be gay friendly too

Sixteen years ago, the punk rock trio’s CD Dookie took the music world by storm, reminiscent of the brash Beastie Boys a decade earlier. Since then, they’ve kept a strong edge but matured into one of today’s more important bands.

So what could three punksters from Berkeley have in common with the queer community? A lot.

With their breakthrough, they hit the road with queercore band Pansy Division as the opening act. Despite Division’s newfound exposure, not all fans were fond of the gays. Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong took time to defend the band and at some points, even threatened not to go on if people weren’t giving Division due respect.

Green Day did the ultimate queeny step by turning the landmark 2004 album American Idiot into a Broadway musical. The show ended up with Tony nominations and the punks even performed on the 2010 telecast.

Clearly, Green Day has some good gay mojo.

DEETS: With AFI. Center, 1818 First Ave. Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. $20–$85.

—  Rich Lopez