“I’ve had to tap into my feminist side, and I’ve done it before, but dancing in heels – that’s a different story,” says Rainey.
‘Hairspray’ July 23 – Aug. 8 at The Strand Theatre 117 N. Park Square, Marietta, GA 30060 404-377-9948, www.earlsmithstrand.org
‘Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man’ July 22 – Aug. 1 Theatre in the Square Alley Stage 11 Whitlock Avenue, Marietta, GA 30064. 770- 422-8369, www.theatreinthesquare.com
‘Cats’ Aug. 4 – 8 at Fox Theatre 660 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 800-982-2787, www.foxtheatre.org
“Hairspray” (based on the 1988 John Waters film) is set in the ‘60s, amongst racial unrest. “The Corny Collins Show,” the dance show of the time, is all white, save for one day a month, and spunky teenager Tracey Turnblad is determined to change that.
Rainey feels that “Hairspray” works on so many levels, besides its great score.
“You have a gay man playing a female character,” he says. “It’s about the struggle of black people being accepted; it’s about the struggle of overweight people being accepted. It’s an acceptance clause the entire show. That’s the message — no matter who you are, we are all here in it together.”
Back in September, Kilpatrick directed Rainey in Aurora’s “Kiss Me Kate,” then they collaborated again in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” at the Lyric last month.
The duo will work together for a fourth time later this year in the Lyric’s “The Music Man,” where Kilpatrick will star and Rainey will direct.
“When I heard that Glenn was playing Edna, I said I’d give anything to play his husband,” says Kilpatrick. “He’s a really sweet person and a true professional.”
‘Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man’
Ed Howard, author of the popular “Greater Tuna,” which just finished a run at Theatre in the Square, has just opened “Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man” at the same venue. The play is adapted from the Fannie Flagg novel, loosely based on Flagg’s own life.
Veronika Duerr stars in the one-woman show as the titular character. In the first act, the Daisy Fay character talks about how she — a snaggle-toothed tomboy — finds herself competing in a beauty pageant. The second act is the aftermath as she comes home.
According to Howard, there are gay characters and a plot development involved saving what turns out to be a gay bar. Howard met out lesbian Flagg in 1983 and they have remained friends, although their paths don’t cross often. “Daisy Fay” is Flagg’s first book, one that came out six years before her “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.”
Finally, “Cats” returns to Atlanta in early August via Theater of the Stars. Gay actor John Jacob Lee performed in dinner theater versions of the show and finally decided to go after the real thing.
After three failed auditions, he promised himself he would try one more time — and made it in. He plays Skimbleshanks.
“Skimbleshanks is actually my favorite cat,” says Lee. “He is one of the adult cats, kind and considerate, but with a silly streak and enough leeway to play and have some fun.”
Lee feels the musical deals with redemption and inclusion. “At first the other cats don’t accept Grizabella — we shun her but eventually we do listen and accept her,” he says.
He laughs that the show itself is older than anyone in this cast.
Top photo: The message of ‘Hairspray’ is ‘no matter who you are, we are all here in it together,’ says Glenn Rainey, who stars as Edna Turnblad. (Courtesy photo)