Theater

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Lesbian play ‘Walk Like a Man’ in Atlanta on Saturday

Laurinda Brown

Representations of lesbians tend to be rare onstage, much less African-American lesbians, but the play “Walk Like a Man” – returning to Atlanta Saturday for a one day gig —has a cast full of women and LGBTQ themes.

“Walk Like a Man” is adapted from Laurinda D. Brown’s book of the same name, a set of short stories which won a 2006 Lambda Literary Award. It deals, via dramatic monologues and vignettes, with issues such as same-sex domestic violence, gay parenting, rape, runaway youth, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” inter-office affairs, new love/romance and HIV/AIDS.

In all, the book featured more than 20 stories; nine of the characters Brown wrote about are featured in the stage version. Shortly after the book’s release, the play was adapted and performed at D.C. Pride. It later became the first African-American lesbian-produced play to be performed Off-Broadway.

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‘Shakespeare Follies’ takes audiences on a bawdy romp through the classics

Wednesday was a six-espresso-shot day for local playwright Timothy Gray.

It's the Wednesday before his company, Odd Man Out, opens "Shakespeare Follies" again in Atlanta, this time for a two-night benefit run April 1-2 at 7 Stages in Little Five Points. Proceeds benefit 7 Stages.

Between packing costumes, load-in at the theater and tech rehearsals, he phoned in to chat about the show and how he's managed to teach an old bard new tricks.

"I love Shakespeare so much," Gray says, "but I know everyone hates it because it was one of those things that was forced on us in high school, so I set this show up like a 1920s vaudeville show — little rapid fire acts, boom, boom, boom."

Gray, who is gay, writes comedies as a rule, and his approach to Shakespeare is no different. Promotional materials call the presentation a "bawdy romp through the most famous (and infamous) of Shakespeare's masterpieces" with “elements of cabaret and vaudeville, hilarious comedy and shameless T&A.”

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Celebrating gay playwright Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams in 1965

Gay playwright Tennessee Williams would have been 100 years old this month. Just in time to honor that milestone comes the play “Confessions of a Nightingale.”  It’s directed by Patrick McColery and stars Sid Shier, both of whom are gay.

The play, based on Charlotte Chandler’s interviews with Williams for the book “Ultimate Seduction,” takes places in 1983 near the end of Williams’ life. According to Shier, it’s basically a conversation with the audience about Williams’ life, his relationships (Williams never hid the fact that he was gay) and his career, including his successes and failures.

“He was very complex,” says the actor, who shares the common sentiment that most of Williams’ great work was done early in his career.

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Actor’s Express needs $50,000 by end of March

Hedwig and the Angry Itch at Actor's Express

Actor’s Express, the gay-inclusive Atlanta-based theater company, is in danger of closing its doors unless the company can come up with significant cash by the end of this month.

Artistic Director Freddie Ashley, who is gay, sent out an email last week explaining the situation the company faces. “Our theatre is at a critical juncture — a true life or death moment. As you know from our many recent calls for support, we are fighting to make it through an extraordinarily difficult time for the arts in Atlanta. Decreased discretionary spending and a reduction in philanthropic support have dramatically impacted our revenues.

“Our staff and board have worked tirelessly to do more with less — cutting our spending while continuing to present works of the highest quality and importance. In spite of our efforts, though, we are faced with an impending deficit that quite literally threatens our existence,” the email explained.

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Singular sensation ‘A Chorus Line’ comes to Atlanta

'A Chorus Line' at Cobb Energy Centre

It’s an iconic image: 17 eager dancers on a bare stage auditioning to get a role in an upcoming musical. “A Chorus Line” — the longest running American Broadway musical ever and winner of nine Tony awards — is about to return to Atlanta as part of the Gas South Broadway Series, with openly gay actor Paul Flanagan in the cast.

Flanagan stars as Al in the musical. Al is 30 years old, from the Bronx, and a very experienced dancer who is in the audition with his wife, Christine.  “He is ready to settle down and is at the audition to settle down Christine,” he says.

The actor has been in “A Chorus Line” once before, back in a Hilton Head production when he was 20. He started with this tour back in the fall and will be with it until the late spring, when the tour goes international in Tokyo.

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Actor’s Express pleads for funding, facing ‘life or death moment’

Actor's ExpressActor's Express, one of several Atlanta theater organizations known for producing gay and gay-favorite plays and musicals, is in dire need of financial support, according to an e-mail sent out today by Artistic Director Freddie Ashley.

“Our theatre is at a critical juncture — a true life or death moment,” Ashley, who is gay, says in the e-mail. “As you know from our many recent calls for support, we are fighting to make it through an extraordinarily difficult time for the arts in Atlanta.”

Ashley says in order to save Actor's Express, the organization must raise $50,000 in four weeks and $150,000 in the next four months.

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‘Exit, Pursued by a Bear’ breaks mold for gay character

Judith Ivey directs 'Carapace' at Alliance Theatre

Playwright and former Atlantan Lauren Gunderson’s comedy “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” is about to have its world premiere locally, courtesy of Synchronicity Performance Group, with gay actor Clifton Guterman part of the cast.

Described as one part “I Love Lucy,” one part revenge tragedy and one part feminist ballad, “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” is the tale of Nan (Veronika Duerr), a woman living in the North Georgia mountains. She loves her husband Kyle but is in an abusive relationship with him.

With the help of her best friend Simon (Guterman), a gay man, and a stripper named Sweetheart, Nan decides to leave and get revenge. Revenge is served by tying Kyle up and re-enacting bad moments from his past, making him realize what a bad husband he has been — and by putting meat and honey beside him to draw attention from bears.

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Visually stunning take on ‘Peter Pan’ not just for kids

'Peter Pan' promises to wow audiences

In an era where Cirque du Soleil productions wow audiences around the globe, it takes more than ever to impress theater-goers. The producers of the new touring version of “Peter Pan” have a catch – the world’s first 360-degree CGI theater. The production, now in Atlanta, features at least two gay performers in its large cast.

Atlanta is one of only three cities scheduled for the U.S. tour and the first outside of California. This production follows the traditional J.M. Barrie plot with characters such as Wendy, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and of course Peter Pan, the boy who doesn’t want to grow up. Ian Street plays Curly, one of the Lost Boys, while Josh Swales is Starkey, one of the pirates.

The big difference here is that instead of a traditional stage, “Peter Pan” takes place in a tent, in an “in the round” setting. The interior of the tent is lit up with more than 15,000 square feet of hi-resolution video. That is three times the size of IMAX screens. It’s a terrific show visually, making audience members feel as if they are flying with the characters to Neverland.