Theater

article placeholder

True Colors explores life of bisexual blues legend

‘Gut Bucket Blues’ examines the life of unapologetic early blues icon Bessie Smith

The lives of two music legends come to Atlanta stages this week in two new productions, one directed by a gay man and the other starring a gay actor.

The warts and all life story of blues singer Bessie Smith is presented in True Color’s world premiere production of “Gut Bucket Blues.”

Smith was regarded as the most famous female blues singer of the ’20s and ’30s, but her life was anything but straightforward.   The musical is directed by former Atlantan David H. Bell, who served as the associate artistic director under Kenny Leon for a number of years at the Alliance Theatre.

The openly gay Bell says he has long been a fan of the singer, but his research gave him a new appreciation.  He had been working on a Bessie Smith show for a while when Leon called him about collaborating — and the musical became a reality. Bell left the Alliance roughly around the time Leon did. The two had formed a great partnership and always vowed to work together again.

article placeholder

Diana DeGarmo does Dolly in ‘9 to 5’

American Idol alum Diana DeGarmo

“American Idol” veteran and local girl Diana DeGarmo grew up idolizing Dolly Parton, so it’s somewhat fitting that she’s now taking on the role the singer played in the film “9 to 5” in the touring version of the new musical.

With music and lyrics written by Parton, “9 to 5: The Musical” debuted on Broadway last year. DeGarmo saw that version, liked it and was naturally receptive to doing the tour. She’d seen the movie with Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin several times, even though it was released before she was even born.

According to DeGarmo, there are subtle differences in the musical but for the most part the plot is the same — a trio of secretaries bond and decide to get even with their boss. In doing so, they practically take over their company. Parton has written new songs for the musical, but not surprisingly the show opens with her popular, titular song.

article placeholder

Tony Award winner Melba Moore loves her gay fans

Broadway star and Tony winner Melba Moore

She’s performed with some of the best musical artists in the business, recording hit songs and earning numerous Grammy nominations. She’s made history on Broadway.

And she’s fallen on serious hard times but still keeps doing what she loves the most — singing and performing.

Melba Moore brings her spirit to Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride, performing live on Sunday, Sept. 5, at Django’s as part of Wassup N ATL’s lineup of artists.

article placeholder

Fall Preview: ‘Pageant’ and much more…

Upcoming theater shows

From marquee-level touring shows to Atlanta premieres, the fall promises to be a busy time in local theaters for gay and lesbian patrons.

Currently running is the musical comedy “Pageant: The Musical,” which opened in August and runs until October. The show, a satire of beauty pageants, stars openly gay Brian Clowdus as Miss Texas, one of a half dozen contestants trying to be named Miss Glamouresse.  The actor envisions the crowd-pleasing Miss Texas as a pageant regular, one who does not take kindly to losing.

article placeholder

‘Shopping and F***ing’ is meaty, and decidedly adult

Shopping and F***ing

“Shopping and F***ing,” first produced in 1996, is gay English playwright Mark Ravenhill’s first full length play, one that is considered by many to be among the most controversial of the ‘90s. It’s set in the underbelly of London — a world sprinkled with rent boys and drug lords, shoplifting and desperate attempts to get money, as well as lots of the titular f***ing.