In a madcap, busy holiday season for theater, almost every local company has a show running. Making its Atlanta debut next week courtesy of Broadway Across America is “Elf The Musical,” with out performer Spencer Glass as part of its large ensemble.
The stage version is not much different from the hit 2003 movie starring Will Ferrell, in which an elf named Buddy, after realizing he is a human being, leaves his adopted family at the North Pole to find his father in New York City. Casey Nicholaw, the out director who was in Atlanta recently with “Tuck Everlasting,” directed the first Broadway run in 2010.
As part of the ensemble, Glass plays eight different roles. He also understudies for Buddy and recently got to go on in the lead role. Glass describes the character as “a puppy dog. He’s a beautiful child living in a 30-year-old man’s body, a human born in America who accidentally made it to the North Pole,” he says.
The performer attended the Boston Conservatory, graduated in 2013, and afterward dabbled in roles here and there and also worked for Disney Cruise Line. This is his first national tour and he is understandably excited. It’s a short run, though, since it’s a production for the Christmas season. He will end his run in January. After that he has no set plans—it will be back to auditioning.
Glass feels “Elf ” is a show that LGBT audiences can appreciate just as much as anyone. He is particularly proud of the final scene, which involves a gay couple onstage.
Topher Payne’s new production, ‘Let Nothing You Dismay’
Another production to watch out for over the holidays is Stage Door Players’ “Let Nothing You Dismay.” It’s the latest work by local and out playwright Topher Payne, who is coming off the successful off-Broadway debut earlier this fall of his Atlanta-hatched “Perfect Arrangement.” Stage Door Players—the Dunwoody-based troupe run by openly gay artistic director Robert Egizio—is hosting the world premiere, which is directed by Shannon Eubanks, a long-time collaborator with Payne.
“Let Nothing You Dismay” is a comic tale about what happens when a married couple decides to become parents via adoption and are waiting for a phone call to make it all happen. In all, eight performers take on more than 20 characters. The playwright started writing it earlier this year. “I had had ideas on it for a while, playing with the idea of doing a holiday show as I experienced it—a collection of family of origin plus family of choice,” he says. “I wanted to tell that story but in the model of a very traditional holiday show. It’s a traditional show about non-traditional families.” It’s a personal project for Payne in other ways as well.
Both of his nephews—”The center of my universe,” he says—came into his life via adoption and the playwright also wanted to pay a tribute of sorts to the times his entire family converges for the premieres of his shows.