“Some people (in the audience) want her to win and others root against her,” says Clowdus.

Miss Texas’ talent skit is a highlight of the production. Clowdus gets to use his expertise twirling a baton, something he learned growing up a Southerner. He calls the show a lot of fun and something Southerners can really appreciate.

“Pageant” is directed by openly gay Tony nominee Bill Russell and stars a cast of local actors, most of whom are gay.  It’s been staged in the ATL before but this is the professional premiere.

By virtue of actress and choreographer Debbie Allen, the Alliance has the splashy musical “Twist,” on stage now through Oct. 3. “Twist” is a contemporary twist, so to speak, on Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” taking place in New Orleans in the Roaring Twenties.

Also on stage now is “Becky Shaw,” which opens the Actor’s Express 2010 – 2011 season and runs through Sept. 25. It stars Jill Hames, seen last year in the company’s “Grey Gardens.” According to Actor’s Express Artistic Director Freddie Ashley, the play — a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama — centers around a blind date that leads to complication after complication.

Upcoming shows

No stranger to challenges, such as 2009’s excellent musical “Wild Party,” Onstage Atlanta opens “Side Show” on Sept. 17. It takes a look at Daisy and Violet Hilton, co-joined twins who were once circus performers but have now moved on to become respectable stage performers. Ironically, one of its originators is “Pageant’s” Bill Russell.

At the Ferst Center, living legend Debbie Reynolds entertains fans and shares stories from her decades-long career Sept. 11.

The big touring musical of the season is “9 to 5: The Musical,” based on the Jane Fonda/Lily Tomlin/Dolly Parton film about secretaries who decide to kidnap their nasty boss, which plays at the Fox Sept. 28 – Oct. 3.

Playing the Dolly Parton role is none other than “American Idol” alum Diana DeGarmo, who grew up here in Georgia. Expect lots of new Parton tunes, as well as the beloved title song.

Another big musical this season sure to be popular with LGBT theater-goers is “Dreamgirls,” coming up in October at the Fox. This is the Apollo version of the musical, complete with the song “Listen” from the recent film. Jennifer Holliday from the original Broadway cast has played lead Effie a few times in Atlanta, but she is not in this cast. It shouldn’t matter though — even gay men who have seen this 28 times will be back singing along to “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

Elsewhere, openly gay actor Alan Kilpatrick directs “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the good-natured Tony-winning musical about six adolescent contestants vying to be a spelling champ, opening Nov. 4. One of the young girls has gay parents — two adopted fathers.

And what holiday season would be complete without the perennial “Santaland Diaries,” based on gay writer David Sedaris’ own experience as a department store elf and starring Harold Leaver as Crumpet the elf.

NOW ON STAGE

‘Pageant: The Musical’
Through Oct. 24 at 14th Street Playhouse
173 14th St., Atlanta, GA 30309
www.pageantatlanta.com

‘Becky Shaw’
Through Sept. 25 at Actor’s Express
887 W. Marietta St., Atlanta, GA 30318
www.actorsexpress.com

‘Twist’
Through Oct. 3 at Alliance Theatre
1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
www.alliancetheatre.org

SEPTEMBER OPENINGS

Debbie Reynolds
Sept. 11 at Ferst Center
349 Ferst Drive, NW, Atlanta, GA 30332
www.ferstcenter.gatech.edu

‘The Music Man’
Sept. 17 – Oct. 3
Atlanta Lyric Theatre/Strand Theatre
117 North Park Square, Marietta, GA 30060
www.earlsmithstrand.org

‘Side Show’
Sept. 17 – Oct. 16 at Onstage Atlanta
2597 North Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30033
www.onstageatlanta.com

‘9 to 5: The Musical’
Sept. 28 – Oct. 3 at Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
404-252-8960
www.foxtheatre.org

OCTOBER OPENINGS

‘Dreamgirls’
Oct. 12 – 17 at Fox Theatre
660 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
www.foxtheatre.org

NOVEMBER OPENINGS

‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’
Nov. 4-21 at Georgia Ensemble Theatre
950 Forrest St, Roswell, GA 30075
www.get.org

‘The Santaland Diaries’
Horizon Theatre, Dates: TBD
1083 Austin Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30307
www.horizontheatre.com

 

Top photo: Left: ‘Pageant: The Musical’ plays at the 14th Street Playhouse through Oct. 24.  (by Maggie Boudreaux Hickman via Facebook) Right: Director Debbie Allen and lyricist Tena Clark bring ‘Twist’ to the Alliance Theatre. (via Facebook)

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