Celebrating gay playwright Tennessee Williams

‘Confessions of a Nightingale’
March 24 – April 24 at 14th Street Playhouse
173 14th St., Atlanta, GA 30309

‘Burn the Floor’
March 22-27 at Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30308

‘Kiss of the Vampire’
March 25 – April 16 at Onstage Atlanta
2597 North Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033

Shier has long been familiar with the playwright but admits he watched some footage to get his mannerisms down.

This is the first time he has produced a show and it took a while to launch. Since it’s a one-man piece, Shier has no backup. Learning the full text — 47 pages of dialogue — took him a year. He is producing “Confessions” with family members, which gives him comfort. His two daughters are in behind-the- scenes roles.

“It’s nice,” he says. “I’m [emotionally] naked onstage, all by myself, so it’s great to look around and see that they are there.” 
A long-time actor, Shier is in his early 70s.

“That is roughly the same age Williams is in the show,” says McColery.  “Sid is absolutely ideal to play this role and so very passionate about the project. I think audiences will really like it.”

‘Burn the Floor’

It all came about because of a party for Elton John. At the 50th birthday party for the gay rocker, a special dance performance was held – and now 14 years later that performance has morphed into the ballroom/Latin dance musical “Burn the Floor,” an international hit that debuts in Atlanta next week.

Besides several dancers from TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and Vonzell Solomon from “American Idol’s” fourth season as one of the vocalists, gay dancer Gary Wright is in the cast. A dancer since he was 10, the Liverpool native says that society is pretty dance-crazed these days and “Burn the Floor” has plenty to offer.   “It’s got incredible dancing, great vocals and it’s very sexy – the guys are hot and the women are too,” Wright says.

A typical crowd, he says, is split between younger and older audiences, straight and gay.

Light on plot, the musical weaves through various dance forms set to Latin and American pop music.

‘Kiss of the Vampire’

The gay-themed vampire comedy “Kiss of the Vampire” opens next week via Process Theatre. It’s a world premiere by local gay playwright Johnny Drago. In the production, gay couple Vince (Scotty Gannon) and Arthur (Ian Gaenssley) are having relationship woes even before scientist Arthur brings home a bat that bites Vince and makes him slowly turn into a vampire. Also in their apartment complex is Brunhelga (Pat Bell), who is a vampire hunter.

“Kiss of the Vampire” is directed by openly gay DeWayne Morgan, who believes that the LGBT community can certainly relate to vampire mythology.

“We know about being outsiders, being misunderstood, not fully accepted by society,” he says.

Yet the play isn’t a message piece – it’s a farcical, “very funny” piece, he says.


Top photo: Gay playwright Tennessee Williams, shown here in 1965, is responsible for such classics as ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.’ (Public domain photo via Library of Congress, New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection)