If you’re looking for a comedic pick-me-up to 2017, you’re in luck. Tim Evanicki Productions presents a strong lineup of boisterous, often poignant shows through the end of the year at Out Front Theatre Company. Audiences can choose from an operatic parody, an intimate cabaret, a legendary one-man show and two heroes of queer standup.
Running from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 is “Grindr The Opera.” This original, unauthorized parody of the gay dating staple makes the most of its ingenious concept. Grindr is personified as a drag queen with godlike powers. In the tradition of opera, it is entirely sung-through. But the show is more in the spirit of pop music rather than Wagner or Strauss.
Beyond the comical juxtaposition of Grindr and opera, it lampoons culture at large. The show fleshes out into something more substantial by having the personified Grindr toy with the love/sex lives of four main characters.
“Everyone’s expecting it to be funny, which it is,” cast member Tim Garnham said. “But it also has a lot of poignant messages about the dating world today. It’s for everyone who has used a dating app — gay or straight. It’s a funny story that also has a lot of heart to it.”
Grindr is directed and choreographed by Tim Evanicki, with words and music by Eric Ransom. In addition to Garnham, the cast includes Wes Miles, Eric Fagan, and Chris Eastwood, with Alexei Barrios playing the character of Grindr.
Suzanne Westenhoefer returns to Atlanta
Appearing at the end of November is comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer. She made history as the first openly lesbian comedian with an HBO special and the first openly lesbian comedian on “Late Night with David Letterman.” Westenhoefer has a commanding presence and a conversational delivery. She prides herself on never following a script, with 25 years worth of onstage credentials to back her up.
Westenhoefer told Georgia Voice that her original act has changed a great deal since she originally came out in the ‘90s.
“I had this purpose. I was going to make it ‘OK’ to be gay!” she said. “I was going to educate the masses about how gay is the same as anything else.[Society] has progressed, that’s the point. So now I can get up onstage and talk about how I have two new kittens that I rescued and they’re 10 weeks old. Come on, they’re the cutest thing ever. But I don’t have to put some gay spin on it.”
Westenhoefer has recorded three award-winning albums, “Nothing In My Closet But My Clothes” (1999), “I’m Not Cindy Brady” (2000) and “Guaranteed Fresh” (2003) — each named Best Comedy CD by the Gay and Lesbian American Music Awards. Her recent sets have aired on the Logo network. Westenhoefer even dipped into acting with the Wolfe Media series “We Have To Stop Now.”
“If you’ve only ever seen me once, you must come back, because you have no idea. You have nothing. If you’ve seen me twice, you must come back,” said Westenhoefer. “I’m proud that someone who works at a club or works at a theater can say ‘I saw you do three shows in a row and it was different every time! That was crazy!’ I love that.”
‘Idol,’ ‘Voice’ alum puts on cabaret
On December 6, singer-activist Frenchie Davis performs “The Frenchie Davis Experience,” a stripped-down cabaret. Her lauded mezzo-soprano voice will be accompanied only by a piano. She recently performed to a sold out crowd at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in between wrapping “Dead 7” for the SyFy channel and pursuing her master’s degree.
The openly bisexual diva has competed on both “American Idol” and “The Voice.” Davis made it to the semi-finals of “The Voice” season one and was mentored by Christina Aguilera. She went on to star in “RENT,” “Dreamgirls” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’” on Broadway.
Outside of theater, she has performed at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality in Atlanta. She was also awarded the 2017 Jose Esteban Munoz Award from the Center for LGBTQ Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY for promotion of queer studies outside of academia.
Looking ahead, beloved actor Leslie Jordan has a three-night stand at Out Front in the humorous-yet-heartwarming “Leslie Jordan: Exposed.” Jordan is best known for his Emmy Award-winning role on “Will and Grace,” as well as a range of projects from “Sordid Lives” to “The Help” to “American Horror Story.” He will be appearing Dec. 14–16.
And to close out the year, comedian Julie Goldman comes to Atlanta with “Balls Dropped: A New Year’s Celebration.” Goldman has become a queer comedy mainstay, from her time at the “Big Gay Sketch Show” to Bravo’s “The People’s Couch.” Catch her New Year’s pre-game party on December 30.
“Grindr The Opera” Nov. 25 – Dec. 10 Tickets: $30 (Half-price Nov. 25) Tep.ticketleap.com or 800-202-1708
Suzanne Westenhoefer Nov. 29, at 8 p.m. Tickets: $25 general, $40 VIP seating plus meet-and-greet Tep.ticketleap.com or 800-202-1708
The Frenchie Davis Experience Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $25 general, $40 VIP seating plus meet-and-greet Tep.ticketleap.com or 800-202-1708
“Leslie Jordan: Exposed” Dec. 14 – Dec.16 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $45 general admission Tep.ticketleap.com or 800-202-1708
“Balls Dropped: A New Year’s Celebration with Julie Goldman” Dec. 30 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $20 or VIP $30 with meet and greet Tep.ticketleap.com or 800-202-1708