2014 Black Tie Dinner: The Night in Photos

The Sheraton Dallas hotel was wall-to-wall Saturday night for the 33rd annual Black Tie Dinner, which raised funds for local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign.

The event featured the presentation of the Kuchling Humanitarian Award to Mike Anglin, the Black Tie Media Award to Dale Hansen and the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award to attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, along with special appearances by NBA star Jason Collins and the Prop 8 plaintiffs.

Comedienne Dana Goldberg emcees the evening, which also featured entertainment by Alex Newell and Steve Grand.

Dallas Voice photographer Cassie Quinn captured the evening in photos:

—  Tammye Nash

Theater critics bestow awards

Liz Mikel, left, and Tiffany Hobbs, right, were singled out for their performances in ‘Raisin in the Sun,’ directed by Tre Garrett. (Photo courtesy Karen Almond)

The Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum met as usual the first Saturday after Labor Day to hash out our awards for the best of North Texas theater over the preceding 12 months, and the Dallas Theater Center ended up the big winner, with five of its shows receiving citations. Les Miserables, Fortress of Solitude, Oedipus el Rey and its in-repertory pair of Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park (Raisin‘s quasi-sequel) all took home major awards, including direction for the first four. Cast members from many were also recognized, including Liz Mikel and Tiffany Hobbs from Raisin, Allison Pistorious from Clybourne and Steven Walters from Les Miz. Uptown Players, coming off one of its best seasons, also won accolades for two of its shows: The gay comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (for direction and its ensemble) and for The Boy from Oz for its three stars and for its wig and makeup by Coy Covington. My own Actor of the Year winner for 2013, Tina Parker, won note for her performance in Detroit — one of nods to Kitchen Dog Theater, which also produced best new play winner Barbecue Apocalypse by Matt Lyle. WaterTower also fared well, especially for its recent musical Dogfight. The winners — which are voted on by a panel of 12 local theater critics, including me — are hashed out over a luncheon. There are between four and nine winners in each category this year.

The complete list is below.

Direction: Daniel Aukin, Fortress of Solitude (Dallas Theater Center); B.J. Cleveland, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Uptown Players); David Denson, Year of the Rooster (Upstart Productions); Tre Garrett, A Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center) and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Jubilee Theatre); Tim Johnson, Detroit (Kitchen Dog Theater); Terry Martin, Dogfight (WaterTower Theatre); Kevin Moriarty, Oedipus el Rey (Dallas Theater Center); Susan Sargeant, The Diaries of Adam and Eve and Happy Days (WingSpan Theatre Co.); Liesl Tommy, Les Miserables (Dallas Theater Center).

Vanya-Show

The cast of ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ was recognized as best ensemble, as was its director, B.J. Cleveland.

Actor: Adam A. Anderson, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Jubilee Theatre); Jaxon Beeson, Stiff (Fun House Theatre and Film); Joey Folsom, Year of the Rooster (Upstart Productions) and Hank Williams: Lost Highway (WaterTower Theatre); Alex Ross, The Boy from Oz (Uptown Players); Garret Storms, for his season of performances; Drew Wall, Nocturne (Second Thought Theatre); Steven Walters, Les Miserables (Dallas Theater Center).

Actress: Tiffany Hobbs, Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center) and Spunk (WaterTower Theatre); Janelle Lutz, The Boy from Oz (Uptown Players); Liz Mikel, Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center); Tina Parker, Detroit (Kitchen Dog Theater); Allison Pistorius, Venus in Fur (Circle Theatre) and Clybourne Park (Dallas Theater Center); Sarah Elizabeth Smith, The Boy from Oz (Uptown Players); Juliette Talley, Dogfight (WaterTower Theatre); Ashley Wilkerson, The Mountaintop (Jubilee Theatre).

Ensemble: Barbecue Apocalypse (Kitchen Dog Theater); Heroes (Stage West); The Echo Room Presents: Her Song (Echo Theatre); Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Uptown Players).

Creative Contribution: Coy Covington for his wig and makeup design for The Boy from Oz (Uptown Players) and wig designs for Pageant (Uptown Players); Clare Floyd DeVries for her set design, Detroit (Kitchen Dog Theater); Jay Dias for his music direction, Nine and Titanic (Lyric Stage); Jeffrey Colangelo and Katy Tye for their movement design, Galatea (Prism Co.); the design team with Trinity Shakespeare Festival, for their season.

New Play or Musical: Barbecue Apocalypse by Matt Lyle (Kitchen Dog Theater); Booth by Steven Walters (Second Thought Theatre); Fortress of Solitude by Itamar Moses and Michael Friedman (Dallas Theater Center); mania/gift by Shelby-Allison Hibbs (Echo Theatre); Stiff by Jeff Swearingen (Fun House Theatre and Film).

Touring Production: Evita (Dallas Summer Musicals); The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess (ATTPAC); Peter and the Starcatcher (ATTPAC); Trick Boxing (Sossy Mechanics).

Special Citations: To Matt Tomlanovich, for reviving the Margo Jones as a busy performance space, opening it to fledgling companies at a reasonable price, and making it available to small festivals, poetry slams, readings and dance groups; and to Lawson Taitte, for his distinguished career in arts criticism.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Uptown Players announces 2015 season

Nathan Lane starred on Broadway in ‘The Nance,’ which will receive its regional premiere from Uptown Players in 2015.

Uptown Players’ upcoming 2015 season will feature two major recent Tony winners, from a new comedy to a rock musical, as well as the return of a TV spoof in the Rose Room at S4 and the annual fundraising performance.

Things were more complicated for Uptown Players this time, scheduling-wise. For several years, they have shared the Kalita Humphreys Theater with the Dallas Theater Center, which moved to its new digs in Downtown’s Wyly Theatre, but which is still the primary leaseholder at the Kalita. DTC mostly performs at the Wyly … mostly — not exclusively. So when DTC announced its 2014-15 schedule this spring, it threw a monkey wrench into the works: Its plays would seesaw between the venues, and the timing was going to interfere with Uptown Players’ calendar.

But they worked it out, in part by starting a month early. The first show of their 2015 season will actually be in December 2014: Christmas Our Way, UP’s holiday-themed Broadway Our Way fundraiser (where men sing women’s songs and vice versa) will be held Dec. 11–14.

The first official show of 2015 will be Gilligan’s Fire Island, another spoof by playwright/actor Jamie Morris, who was last represented onstage at the Rose Room as Julia Sugarbaker in Re-Designing Women. As the title suggests, the castaways have gotten pretty gay.

The mainstage season will arrive at the Kalita in June, starting with the wonderful comedy-drama The Nance, then the regional North Texas-produced premiere of Catch Me If You Can, the rock opera Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the new off-Broadway hit Harbor.

See the complete lineup after the jump. You can also get season tickets here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Uptown Players adds Dan Savage to Pride Fest

Dan Savage for Intiman by LaRae Lobdell | PhotoSister.comUptown Players has added queer advice/sex columnist Dan Savage’s one-man show Savage Love Live to the lineup of its fourth annual Pride Performing Arts Festival, which runs in September. In addition to his column and books, Savage is best known as co-founder of the It Gets Better Project.

UP had already announced several of the shows, but today came out with the full schedule, which adds Savage and Steven Jay Crabtree’s Dysfunctional Divas.

Opening the festival on the Kalita Humphreys mainstage will be the concert version of The Last Session, a revival of a show first produced in UP’s inaugural season. It will kick off the fest Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. Savage Love Live will bring up the rear, closing the festival on Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.

Here’s a list of the rest of the shows, including performance dates. You can get more information and purchase tickets here.

Mythical Beastie. Former college roommates Mark (a gay architect) and Greg (his straight friend) find themselves living together again after years of estrangement. Greg, a serial womanizer, invites his latest crush Wendy home to meet his best friend and to make an announcement that throws everyone and everything into a tailspin. Written by local playwright Bruce R. Coleman. Performances: Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 2 p.m.

From White PlainsA 2013 Off-Broadway hit, it  follows four men, straight and gay, as they attempt to take responsibility for past actions and move beyond them, aided and frustrated by celebrity, social media and viral videos. The play examines how male relationships change as boys grow into men and asks who speaks for a victim of bullying when he is no longer here to speak for himself. Performances: Sept. 13 at 3:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 2 p.m., Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

CommencingThe beautiful Kelli can’t wait for the blind date her friends have set her up on, until it turns out to be one very disappointed lesbian named Arlin. Mutually appalled, yet appallingly intrigued, they proceed to pull the screws loose on both straight and gay women’s culture, to find the common ground beneath in the search for love and self. Performances: Sept. 13 at 2 p.m., Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Falling Man. This play examines the lives of a diverse group of gay men from various backgrounds. Join Brandon Simmons in a tour-de-force performance as we meet a former drag queen, a young hustler who is taken over by the spirit of Tennessee Williams, the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer, and a former cha-cha champion who just wants to be remembered. Performances: Sept. 13 at 8 p.m., Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 18 at 8 p.m.

Dysfunctional Divas. Steven Jay Crabtree presents yet another evening in the lives of his outrageous characters: the drama queen of lip-sync, Trayla Park; the superhero, Warrior Woman; the bombastic screen vixen, Martini Glass; plus other of Steven’s weird, wigged alter egos! Crabtree switches from boy to girl and boots to heels while playing his collection of kooky characters.  Rated R for adult language and humor. Performances: Sept. 13 at 9:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. and Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: A preview of Uptown Players’ ‘Pageant’

In today’s edition, I have an interview with Kevin Gunter, the musical director of Uptown Players’ second-ever revival, the campy hit cross-dressing musical Pageant. The show pits six “natural born females” against each other for the coveted title of Miss Glamouresse. But you don’t have to take my word for it — see what the contestants are like in this video, previewing the production, which opens tonight. And you can get tickets here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Sam Harris: At the ilume, at the Kalita and in bookstores

SamHarris at ilume Park

SamHarris at ilume Park

It’s a surprisingly Sam Harris-y time to be in Dallas. On Tuesday night, the actor-singer-writer helped open the new ilume Park development on Cedar Springs at a gala fundraiser for the Red Party, benefiting Legacy Counseling Center. Harris charmed the audience, reading from his new memoir, Ham, and even performed a few songs, sounding as clear and powerful as he did when he won the first-ever Star Search contest 30 years ago.

His reign doesn’t end there. Tomorrow in Dallas Voice, we run a review of Ham (preview: It’s hilar!) and in just more than a week, Harris is back for a one-man show at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, courtesy of Uptown Players. In it, he both performs essays from his book and sings numbers. And he’s still pretty easy on the eyes.

I’ve become a fan all over again. You will be, too.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Uptown Players face possible protests over ‘Most Fabulous Story’

Uptown Fabulous Story 087KOThis year, Uptown Players got to do something they haven’t done since their first season: Open a late-autumn production. Since it was close to the Christmas holiday, they chose a (kinda) religious-themed play to inaugurate their new time-slot: Paul Rudnick’s sassy The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. A riff on the right-winger mantra of “The Bible speaks about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” Rudnick goes ahead and makes it about Adam and Steve (and their lesbian counterparts, Jane and Mabel … instead of Cain and Abel). Adam and Steve are mostly naked for the first 15 minutes or so.

Let’s face it: This is provocative stuff for the Bible Belt. Co-founder Craig Lynch even acknowledged that some gay theatergoers may not appreciate a satire of the Old Testament. Then again, isn’t pushing boundaries what theater is supposed to do sometimes?

Apparently, not everyone agrees. Lynch informs me that as of the start of this week, the company had already received 800 protest emails, though he attributed the vast majority of them to a robo-email program sponsored by a right wing religious organization. One patron even called and offered to buy out every seat for the entire run with the intent not to use the seats, to prevent any audience for the gay-themed play.

Similar protests have been logged in Oklahoma City and Austin, with varying degrees of success. One Catholic group has even called for a “Rosary of Reparation” on Sunday, to protest the show at the Kalita Humphreys.

Call me naive, but inviting hundreds of your followers to show up at a theater is a great way to give a troupe free publicity — which, I admit, is what I’m doing as well.

Of course, peaceful protests and disagreements are one thing; intimidation, violence and threats are another. So far, The Most Fabulous Story Even Told — which opens tonight, and runs until Dec. 15 — seems to have avoided any scary-level protests. I expect it will stay that way. After all, doesn’t the Bible say something about turning the other cheek? A good Christian should know about that.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

6 ways to fabulize your week

divineWe’re all about diversity in the gay community, and here’s how we prove it.

Let’s say you have a hankering to spend some time in the dark with gay Latinos this week. We got some suggestions. One is by seeing the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, a musical set in a South American prison. Another is checking out Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown at Teatro Dallas, which features nine comic monologues dealing with all aspects of the gay Latin experience in the U.S.

If you’re tastes fall more along the lines of WASPy gay humor, you can still try to scrounge up a seat to Kathy Griffin, who is performing tonight at the Verizon Theatre. She’ll certainly talk about Kardashians, Real Housewives and, of course, “her gays.”

If that’s not your style, perhaps a little drag is what you need. The Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff is screening a 35mm print of John Waters’ outrageous classic Polyester tonight at 9:30 p.m., followed by a John Waters-themed dance party at 11. Costumes are encouraged. (You know you wanna try out that Tracy Turnblad get-up you have!)

If you wanna up the fashion quotient, the DFashion Week runway show — an inaugural fundraiser benefiting AIDS Arms and LifeWalk — comes to the Rose Room on Saturday. You can get tickets here.

For those who prefer the whole smorgasbord of choices, and like to be entertained as well, Sunday night is the Voice of Pride finals at the Rose Room. Ten singers walk in, one walks out with the title, cash, plane tickets … and bragging rights.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

EXCLUSIVE: Uptown Players reveals season including ‘Oz,’ ‘Vanya’

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A scene from the Broadway production of ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,’ which will be one of four mainstage shows in Uptown Players’ 2014 season

Uptown Players‘ 13th season — its fifth in the Kalita Humphreys Theater — is its most ambitious and impressive yet.

The company has scored two coups, snagging local rights to two Tony Award-winning hits: The musical The Boy from Oz and this year’s best play winner, Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

In addition, UP will stage only its second-ever revival with the campy musical Pageant. The company’s first revival, Kiss of the Spider Woman, opens tonight. Rounding out the mainstage season will be The Lyons, a comedy-drama that had a Broadway run in 2012.

In addition to the season series, Uptown will have two bonus productions: the annual Broadway Our Way fundraiser, and the Pride Performing Arts Festival, with its mainstage production the musical Soho Cinders. The latter, however, will move from its position for the past three season during Dallas Pride, and now will coincide with National Pride Month in June. (It has already announced another co-production with the Turtle Creek Chorale of Sweeney Todd, following its successful collaboration this year with Ragtime.)

For the first time in several seasons, the troupe has no plans to do a cross-dressing bonus show at the Rose Room. Lynch held out the possibility, however, that such a production could be added down the line, if a property became available.

Here is the full season:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Uptown Kiss 196Rl

Following a slowdown right around the Fourth of July, the theater scene is hopping again, with the opening tonight of Uptown Players‘ Kiss of the Spider Woman, pictured, while up in Addison WaterTower continues its super-gay show, Xanadu. Best idea: Check out Spider Woman this weekend and go to LGBT night at WTT on Wednesday, with a pre-show cocktail hour and discounted ticket. Then on Thursday two more shows open: Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown at Teatro Dallas and the first preview for Theatre 3‘s first show of its season, So Help Me God.

If you’re in the mood for a little drag, there’s plenty of options as well. The Hidden Door hosts its 26th annual Leo Party and Miss Leo Contest on Saturday, with proceeds benefiting AIN’s Daire Center. And drag king troupe Mustache Envy gives its fans a gender-bending show at Sue Ellen‘s on Friday.

If you’re in the mood for even more giving, Resource Center Dallas holds a cocktail reception marking its 30th anniversary on Friday, and the Be An Angel fundraiser benefiting Legacy Counseling Center is on Saturday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones