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‘Next Fall’ explores religion, family and coming out

Mitchell Anderson

The gay-themed “Next Fall,” which opens Jan. 12 at Actor’s Express, reunites two artists who haven’t been as active recently in the local theater scene as we might like: out director Kate Warner and out actor Mitchell Anderson.

On Broadway, the drama – co-produced by Elton John and his partner, David Furnish — was nominated for a 2010 Tony Award for Best Play, after much success off-Broadway a year earlier.

The play centers around the relationship between twentysomething Luke (Joe Sykes) and the older Adam (Mitchell Anderson), who is 40. From a religious standpoint, they are completely different. Luke is a fundamentalist Christian and Adam is something of an agnostic.

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Review: Old meets new at Horizon’s ‘Avenue Q’

avenue q review art for story by bo shell

It's not unlikely that you've seen super-popular and super-gay "Avenue Q" in at least one of its incarnations over the past several years, but unless you saw the show in its early days off Broadway, you've never seen it done quite like Horizon Theatre.

Often and correctly dubbed "Sesame Street meets South Park," "Avenue Q" is the hilarious story of 20-something puppets and people searching for purpose on the outskirts of New York City.

Fresh out of college, Princeton moves to the close-knit neighborhood of Avenue Q where he meets Brian and Christmas Eve, a young human couple engaged to be married; Nicky and Rod, who are puppet roommates; Kate Monster, the girl puppet next door; Trekkie, an internet porn addict; and Gary Coleman, the building superintendent.

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‘Mr. Universe’ returns to Atlanta

Mr. Universe at 7 Stages playhouse

A half-naked male body builder found on the streets may seem too good to be true for some, but the character changes the lives of a number of people in Jim Grimsley’s “Mr. Universe,” being produced by 7 Stages.

According to playwright Grimsley, who is gay, it’s the third time his play has been staged in Atlanta —first in 1987 and then in the mid ‘90s, both times at 7 Stages. “Mr. Universe” is directed by 7 Stages’ Del Hamilton, who played the character of Vick in the original production, and it stars openly gay actors Don Finney and Doyle Reynolds.

In the French Quarter of New Orleans, circa the late ‘70s, two drag queens —Judy (Finney) and Vick (Reynolds) — find an almost naked young man (Brian Kirchner), who is mute and homeless, and take him in. The city is in the midst of a murder mystery, and the identity of Mr. Universe remains vague.

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Spring Theater: Plenty of gay on local stages

Local playwright Jim GrimsleyTheater fans looking for LGBT-themed shows this spring won’t be disappointed. From Oscar Wilde to naked bodybuilders to puppets, the season is hopping.

Gay playwright Jim Grimsley’s “Mr. Universe,” presented by 7 Stages May 26 to June 12, is one of the don’t-miss shows of the next few months. Grimsley’s 1987 play is about a hooker and two drag queens who find a naked man in the streets of New Orleans, alone and bleeding, and decide to take him home.

The production stars Doyle Reynolds and Don Finney, both openly gay, and is directed by Del Hamilton. According to Grimsley, this is the first local production of the play since its original bow at 7 Stages.

Actor’s Express is staging the gayest play the company has done in a while: David Hare’s “The Judas Kiss” (May 12 – June 11).

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New musical by gay writer Jeff Whitty brings cheerleading films to stage

Bring It On: The Musical at Alliance Theatre

A key player on the all-star team launching the world premiere “Bring It On: The Musical” in Atlanta is a familiar name to gay theatregoers – Jeff Whitty, who shot to fame when his puppet play “Avenue Q” became a sensation. Whitty, who is gay, is writing the new musical, which plays at the Alliance Theatre through Feb. 20.

The cheerleading musical features a rich array of talent. Besides Whitty, there is Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights).Blankenbuehler, who directed “In the Heights” and is directing and choreographing this production. The music and lyrics are by Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, also of “In the Heights.” Also in the collaborative team are Tony winner Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”) and Amanda Green (“High Fidelity”).

Unlike the creative team for “Avenue Q,” which was mostly gay, this is a largely heterosexual crew, yet Whitty is positive that they will be able to make a show that pleases everyone.  He feels that the world of cheerleading – with all its drama, intrigue and politics – will resonate LGBT theater fans.