Theater

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‘White Christmas’ puts you in mood for holiday season

Erick Devine stars in 'White Christmas'

During his long stage career, openly gay actor Erick Devine has found himself in quite a few Christmas-themed holiday shows. As luck would have it, he does so again this year, appearing in “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” debuting in Atlanta next week courtesy of Theater of the Stars.

According to Devine, the stage version follows the film pretty closely, with some exceptions. It’s set in 1954 on Christmas Eve, where two World War II Army buddies have a successful song and dance routine. After the two follow a pair of singing sisters to a Vermont lodge – belonging to their former commanding general — they decide to stage a Broadway revue in the hopes their Army pals can come out and help save the lodge.  Devine stars as General Waverly, the gruff owner of the lodge.

He calls the gig a high point of his career.

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Pearl Cleage explores a Southern tradition in ‘Nacirema Society’

Nacirema Society at Alliance Theater

Atlanta native Pearl Cleage’s work has always been embraced and supported by the LGBT community. Now she hopes her new production — “The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years,” bowing next week at the Alliance — is met with the same level of enthusiasm.

Described by Cleage as a romantic comedy, “Nacirema” deals with the beloved tradition known as the cotillion, especially popular in the South. As a new group of African-American debutantes gets ready to meet society circa 1964 in Alabama, their strong-willed grandmothers try to take care of their romantic lives. Trouble comes, however, when one debutante decides she wants to forego the life and move to New York to be a writer, and the racial issues of the day stir up.

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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.

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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.

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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.