“Giant” today at the Wyly

Bigger is better

Any true Texan has likely seen Giant, the movie. It’s a thing, here. But now the story gets the stage treatment with musical numbers by Michael John LaChiusa ad directed by three-time Tony nominee Michael Greif. The Dallas Theater Center goes way big for this epic story of love, redemption and acceptance on the backdrop of the Texas flatlands and the booming oil industry.

DEETS: Wyly Theater, 2400 Flora St.2 p.m. $15–$85.DallasTheaterCenter.org

 

—  Rich Lopez

Hollywood notes: Groff returns to the stage, Knight returns to TV

When a gay white male playwright poses as an African-American female in order to pen a story about an alcoholic black mother, only to be discovered in that lie, the consequences aren’t going to be the stuff of fluffy musical theater. So when the non-musical drama The Submission opens Off Broadway this fall, audiences can expect to see a side of Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening/Glee) they might not have experienced before. The Tony nominee will be joined by True Blood star Rutina Wesley (as a woman who becomes involved in Groff’s hoax) as well as by Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie) as Groff’s boyfriend, with directing duties handled by Tony winner Walter Bobbie. So if you’re planning a New York theater trip this fall, put it at the top of your to-see list; serious drama — especially serious drama about touchy issues like race — never sticks around as long as the ones with catchy songs and cat costumes.

It’s been about two years since Grey’s Anatomy star T.R. Knight quit that show amidst conflict with fellow actor Isaiah Washington. He’s kept busy in the theater world in the meantime, including taking a starring role in the 2010 Broadway show A Life In The Theatre, opposite Patrick Stewart. But Hollywood called again, so now he’s coming back to work in front of the cameras on an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU. The episode in question — currently in production — finds Knight playing a suspected serial rapist, so that’s an interesting out-of-the-box step for the actor, a role worlds away from the nice-guy character he portrayed on Grey’s.  Maybe he can parlay it into meaty villain roles and become the next Joan Collins. There’s no airdate for the SVU episode just yet, so keep a close watch on your DVR.

Rocket Pictures, the movie producing arm of the empire run by Elton John (pictured), scored a solid hit with this spring’s Gnomeo & Juliet, an animated reworking of Romeo and Juliet featuring talking, singing garden gnomes. Filled to the brim with John’s classic hit singles, the film made almost $200 million worldwide. And because it’s a short leap from gnomes to trolls, that’s where Rocket’s going next. Will Gallows and the Snake-Bellied Troll, a mixed liveaction/CGI-animated feature based on the first in a series of kid-aimed books by author Derek Keilty, is already in production with Gnomeo’s writer/director Kelly Asbury. The story combines elements of Wild West cowboy adventure and, well, trolls from a fantasy universe. There’s no voice cast set up just yet, but it’s safe to expect that John will contribute in some way to the film’s score. No gay troll jokes please.

— Romeo San Vicente

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Broadway’s Kelli O’Hara has music on her mind as she comes to Dallas

With a new album and a headline gig in Dallas, Kelli O’Hara isn’t always a theater queen

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

A day after her second album is released, Kelli O’Hara isn’t dealing with a tour publicist or her booking agent. Instead, she’s driving while her son is in the back seat. Not the image you immediately imagine for a three-time Tony nominee and Broadway star, yet it’s what you expect from the Oklahoma native.

“I’m sorry he keeps crying,” she says. “I’m trying to get him to sleep.”

As accomplished as O’Hara is, she doesn’t put on any pretensions of the star that she is. She only made her Broadway name with Jekyll & Hyde, followed up by Sweet Smell of Success: The Musical and The Light in the Piazza. All which helped put her on the map as a strong leading stage actress. She scored big with her role as Nellie in South Pacific, earning  her third Tony nom and second Drama Desk Award nomination.

Lately, though, she’s all about the singing.

“I really wanted a record that represented the solo concert I had been doing,” she says. “Always features theater music, but as soon as I made this one, I wanted to make a country album. I’m a little schizo that way.”

Practically just hours out of her second CD release, O’Hara is a mixed bag of emotions which lends credence to her admission.

“There’s always more work to do, but I feel relief, excitement — all of the above,” she says. “I’m excited to have this because I’ve been wanting a new album for a while. Now begins the fun…or work.”

O’Hara comes to town Saturday to headline the Dallas Theater Center’s fundraiser Centerstage. The Oklahoma native is familiar with these parts. She would visit Dallas on a regular basis for family reunions. As it turns out, that’ll be the case somewhat on Saturday.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve worked outside New York City,” she says. “I’m excited. And my parents will be there.”

But she is sensing a pattern in her special event gigs. When she discovered that drag queen Lady Bunny is DJing the night, she laughs.

“You know, I get paired up like that a lot,” she says. “I was with the Seattle Gay Men’s Chorus and then this drag queen Liza. I don’t know what I represent, but I guess it’s where I belong!”

Centerstage. Dallas Theater Center, 2401 Flora St. June 4 at 6:30 p.m. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

 

 

 

—  Rich Lopez

Bunny hop

Lady Bunny comes out! (as more than a drag queen DJ)

LADY BUNNY
Axiom Sushi Lounge,
4123 Cedar Springs Road.
June 3 at 8 p.m. 214-443-3840.

………………………

The Lady Bunny is most recognizable as that funny queen who created Wigstock, or as the DJ spinning at a circuit party in full drag. But the lady has a lot on her mind that’s not all fun and games. Though she’s never far from the sass.

“I really like to talk about issues because there is a lot of fluff on TV,” she says. “How great would it be if a gay channel would take on gay issues? I’d love that. Hear that, Logo?”

Bunny, who has practically made Dallas a second home lately, returns for a double gig this weekend: On Saturday, she shares the bill with Tony-nominee Kelli O’Hara as the DJ for the Dallas Theater Center’s Centerstage benefit. But Friday she returns to her performing roots for a birthday dinner and roast at Axiom Sushi Lounge at the ilume. And she knows the fish jokes should be easy that night.

“I am that tacky,” she laughs. “For me, I love sushi but drag and dinner only mix if there’s a girdle handy.”

Bunny is deeper than she usually gets credit for. Seeing Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart on Broadway forced her to recall activism then vs. now. Minus the makeup and music, Bunny is impassioned about that which affects LGBT people today.

“I think that gay people have to a large extent lost their fight,” she says. “I don’t really know how putting ‘Equality’ as your middle name on Facebook, or a piece of tape over your mouth, helps. I can’t see how these trendy campaigns substitute for hard work.”

She’s also inspired by her work as the Dean of Drag on the upcoming season of RuPaul’s Drag U. With an increased role this time out, Bunny still keeps the camp but adds heart for her makeovers. Real life women get makeovers, but also come with dramatic back-stories.

“These women, they give up everything for their kids and their man,” she says. “I cried a few times. It made me appreciate that nurturing vibe that mothers have. I don’t think gay men know that kind of sacrifice. This season has been a real eye opener.”

For now, she snarkily warns of her own eye opener Friday.

“Well, I have this delightful tribute to Burlesque,” she says. “Did you see the movie? Ugh.”

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 3, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Stage star Gavin Creel to perform at Black Tie

2-time Tony nominee will join with TCC to headline 2010 fundraiser

From Staff Reports editor@dallasvoice.com

From Broadway, to London’s West End to Dallas, two-time Tony Award nominee Gavin Creel is coming to Texas in November to appear as the headlining entertainer for the 2010 Black Tie Dinner.

Creel will join Dallas’ own Turtle Creek Chorale in performing a special arrangement in honor of BTD beneficiaries to open the dinner, BTD officials said.

BTD Co-Chair Ron Guillard said organizers are “thrilled these two talents will unite on one stage.”

“Gavin brings an incomparable and raw sense of emotion to every performance. Combine that with the powerful voices of the Turtle Creek Chorale and we know our audience will experience a real treat,” Guillard said.

Creel first won Broadway acclaim for his leading role opposite Sutton Foster in the 2002 production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which earned him a Tony Award nomination as best actor. The show won the Tony for best musical.

Last year, Creel was in the revival of “Hair,” playing the hippie Claude. He earned his second Tony nomination with that effort.
He’s currently performing in London’s West End.

Off stage, Creel is one of the founders of Broadway Impact, an organization fighting for equality and LGBT civil liberties. He is a regular performer on R Family Cruises with Rosie O’Donnell and is planning the release of his second studio album. BTD Co-Chair Nan Arnold noted that the announcement of Creel’s performance with TCC at the dinner comes less than a week before table captain table sales begin for this year’s event.

Arnold said, “All of these organizations have been standing strong, providing valuable services and programs to our community — some of them for decades — and we look forward to celebrating them in this exciting manner this year.”

Black Tie officials announced earlier this year that the Rev. Carol West will receive the Kuchling Humanitarian Award at the 2010 dinner, and that this year’s Elizabeth Birch Equality Award will be presented to American Airlines. Officials said other announcements about the 2010 dinner are coming soon.

Dinner organizers have not yet announced the keynote speaker for the event in November, or this year’s Media Award winner.
Online table captain table sales begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 30 at BlackTie.org/tablecaptains. Sponsor level placements, which include premium table placement and other benefits, are already available at BlackTie.org/sponsors.

For more information about table captain sales, contact Mitzi Lemons by e-mail at mlemons@blacktie.org or by phone at 972-733-9200, ext. 7. For sponsor information, contact Maggie McQuown by e-mail at mmcquown@blacktie.org or by phone at 972-733-9200, ext. 8.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 25, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice