Uptown Players sets line-up for 2012 season

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AM BUSCH | Coy Covington (in ‘Die Mommie, Die!’) returns to his roots in drag acting by once again serving as Charles Busch’s surrogate in ‘The Divine Sister.’

Uptown Players begins its third season at the Kalita Humphreys Theater next year, with a lineup that numbers among its gayest ever.

“I don’t wanna say it’s more gay, but I definitely feel it has more gay aspects than some recent seasons,” said co-founder Craig Lynch.
As usual, the season includes a drama, a comedy and two musicals, plus several bonus shows.

The 11th season kicks off Feb. 3, 2012, with Take Me Out, gay playwright Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award-winner about the reaction when a professional baseball player comes out of the closet. WaterTower Theatre last produced the show locally in 2006.

That’s immediately followed by Broadway Our Way on March 16, the annual fundraiser that showcases musical numbers traditionally sung by men being sung by women and vice versa.

As with this season, Uptown will clear out of the Kalita for a few months while the Dallas Theater Center, which still holds the lease on the building, mounts two shows in the space: God of Carnage and Next Fall. In the meantime, the troupe will return to the stage of the Rose Room for The Silence of the Clams, another of its comic spoofs, again written by Jamie Morris (The Fact of Life: The Lost Episode). It opens April 27.

On July 13, Coy Covington returns to his wheelhouse performing in drag in the most recent Charles Busch comedy, The Divine Sister. This will be Covington’s fourth go as Busch’s surrogate for Uptown. “We saw it off-Broadway and met with Busch,” Lynch said. “His production of the play is touring but is not coming to Dallas, so we snatched up the rights.”

Uptown will then attempt what is arguably its biggest production to date when it tackles  Mel Brooks’ mega musical The Producers. It also happens to be one of the gayest mainstream smashes in the history of Broadway. National tours have come to North Texas, but this will be the first major local production. It opens Aug. 24.

The season will end on Oct. 5 with Hello Again, gay composer Michael John LaChuisa’s musical play about relationships through the decades. John de los Santos will direct.

It’s an ambitious season for the company that began soon after 9/11 in a 120-seat space off Stemmons but is now only the second troupe to be a resident company at the historic Kalita Humphreys. When they started, did they ever think they’d mount something as big as The Producers?

“Heck, no!” said Lynch. “We were debating whether to do The Producers for a year now but after doing research I see how it can work. We’ve learned some valuable lessons in the space. We know we need to scale back here and be more abstract there. We were used to a small space and small-scale thinking; now we times that by a hundred.”

— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Constant craving

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

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

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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