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Folk art version of ‘Wizard of Oz’ sure to please LGBT, young fans alike

The Wizard of Oz

Although the Alliance Theatre’s version of “The Wizard of Oz” is being staged as part of the company’s Family Series, openly gay actor Patrick MColery is fully aware that audiences will probably be divided between younger patrons and LGBT theater fans. “Oz” opens Feb. 25.

In this stage version of the beloved, iconic film, McColery has a number of roles. He plays Uncle Henry, as well as one of the munchkins and the apple tree. He even puppets the Wizard character.

Most of the small cast doubles as various characters, he says. The only performer in the cast who doesn’t double is the actress playing Dorothy. As for Toto, the character is a puppet but “has plenty of life,” says McColery.

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Three-way sex and love of shrimp topics of debut reading by gay Atlanta author ‘Dale Vigor’

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Johnny Drago is a writer who likes to tackle everything from 6-foot tall vaginas to soap opera dinner theater.

But Drago has also been writing "erotic satire" under a pseudonym, "Dale Vigor," that takes on the subjects of pornography, gay relationships and, well, seafood.

Vigor makes his debut reading on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. at the Drive-By Theater Project. Drago answered a few questions about himself and Vigor ahead of the reading dubbed "Pornography vs. Art." The reading will include explicit material and is intended for mature (mature?) audiences only.

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Glenn Close portrays woman who lives as man in ‘Albert Nobbs’

Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs

Back in the 1980s, actress Glenn Close portrayed the character of Albert Nobbs in a celebrated stage play — and the part stayed with her so long, she vowed to one day bring it to the big screen. It took 30 years but “Albert Nobbs” is finally opening in theaters next week, with Close reprising her role.

In the film, Albert Nobbs is a waiter at a notable hotel circa 19th century Dublin. A fixture there for 17 years, Albert is exceptionally good and devoted to the job. Yet Albert has a secret: Underneath the waiter attire Albert is really a woman.

When she meets mysterious painter Hubert (Janet McTeer) and strikes a bond, Albert realizes — perhaps for the first time in her life — she is not alone in the world.

Producers Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn admit “Albert Nobbs” was a difficult project to get off the ground, taking several years. For Curtis, who worked with Steven Spielberg for 15 years as his assistant, “Albert Nobbs” was the most difficult project of her life to jump-start.

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‘Tea Party’ with a twist

Art imitates life in the politically themed “Tea Party,” the new show by playwrights and couple John Gibson and Anthony Morris, known for their long running play “Peachtree Battle.”

“Tea Party” is a political satire where the lives of two strangers collide. Preston Miller (Truman Griffin) is a political newcomer from Connecticut who simply wants to make the world a better place. Clarissa Cannon (Tonglia Davis), the wife of Mississippi congressman Thurgood Cannon (Patrick A. Jackson), is dead set on getting into the White House.

In an attempt to appear more white to Tea Party folks, the African-American Cannons hire Preston, but only to re-do their image. Preston thinks he has been hired on merit, unaware of the real motivation.

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Tim Miller’s ‘Lay of the Land’

Tim Miller's

Gay performer Tim Miller can always be counted on for a healthy dose of theatrical activism. His brings his politically-charged “Lay of the Land” to 7 Stages this week.
The one-man show, slated for Nov. 10-13, deals predominantly with marriage equality and queer citizenship — the status of being gay in America right now. It came about shortly after Prop 8.

“For me, the big prompt is always about what you can’t make peace about and for me, it’s my state – California,” Miller says.  “For five joyous months we had marriage equality followed by this endless and visible battle and eventually it was declared unconstitutional.”

In previous shows Miller has talked about immigration laws, which is especially relevant as that his partner since 1994, Alistair McCartney, is an Australian that he is not allowed to marry. The couple has had to deal with threats of deportation for many years. Miller admits they face an uncertain future, as do all LGBT couples in the country.

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‘In the Next Room’ explores women’s sexuality

In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play

The advent of a new instrument changes the lives of many in “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play,” which runs Oct. 28 to Nov. 19 at Synchonicity Theatre.

The play, a 2010 Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize nominee for Best Play, is set in the days of corsets, bustles and horses and buggies. A noted doctor has come up with a vibrator that is designed to treat women for “hysteria” but instead makes them enormously happy.

“Vibrator Play” is directed by Rachel May,  artistic director or Synchronicity, and was written by acclaimed playwright Sarah Ruhl.

“I like her work – she is a smart writer but she has heart,” May says. “She reminds me of Paula Vogel in that she makes you laugh but undercuts it with social commentary. The humor works to get you into it but important things are underneath.”

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AGenda Benda Justice helps Atlanta’s masculine-identified gay women

AGenda Benda Justice is a budding organization started by Cole Thomas that seeks to bring awareness and resources to bullied children, teens and adults; LGBTQ people seeing access to healthcare; single parents of color; and masculine-identified women.

Thomas, who is currently raising funds to produce her play, “Lying in Bed,” says the name AGenda Benda Justice fits with the gender bending she herself embraces as a masculine-identified female. The capitol “AG” gives tribute to women who identify as “aggressives” — women, primarily black women, who prefer to dress in traditional male attire.

Ensuring masculine-identified women get health screenings, such as pap smears and mammograms, is also important to Thomas, who will post to her own Facebook page photos of herself at the doctor’s office. AGenda Benda Justice is also part of The Health Initiative’s “Stud Health Project” geared toward African-American masculine-identified gay females.

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Comedy pairs gay theater critic with good ol’ boy kidnappers

Gray Area

Out comedian/director Sherri Denise Sutton has returned to Atlanta and already has a slew of projects lined up. First up is directing the comic “Gray Area” at Aurora Theatre.

It’s a farcical show, written by John Ahlin, about what happens when a New York theater critic makes an on-air crack about Civil War re-enactors as his last public statement — and is promptly kidnapped by three good ol’ boys. It stars openly gay actor Glenn Rainey as the critic, Farragut. The character is gay, says Sutton, which the kidnappers don’t know when they nab him.

“They think he is straight – they have no idea he’s gay,” she says. “The audience is in on the joke.”

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[Review] ‘Spring Awakening’ at Actor’s Express is devastating, beautiful

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After a harrowing, but seemingly successful fundraising campaign to save itself from financial collapse, Actor's Express can celebrate bringing the drama back to the stage with it's 24th season opener, "Spring Awakening," directed by Freddie Ashley.

Apparently I've been living under a rock. I'd heard of "Spring Awakening" as this Duncan Sheik rock and roll musical. I knew it was successful. But 11 Tony Award nominations and eight wins? "Glee" star Lea Michelle working half her life to be the the lead in the original Broadway cast? Her "Glee" co-star Jonathan Groff, too?

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‘Guys and Dolls’ is the latest in out actor Glenn Rainey’s hot streak

Guys and Dolls

Glenn Rainey doesn’t want to take it for granted, but the openly gay performer has been on a hot streak of late. On the heels of several high-profile local projects, he is starring in a touring version of “Guys and Dolls,” opening shortly in Atlanta by virtue of Theater of the Stars.

Considered one of the classic musicals, “Guys and Dolls” takes place in a Damon Runyon-esque New York City, full of criminals and gamblers, where infamous Nathan Detroit is running an illegal crap game but is being coaxed to leave the business by long-time girlfriend (and nightclub singer) Miss Adelaide. Rainey stars as Nicely-Nicely Johnson, who, with friend Benny Southstreet, works for Detroit. The actor compares Nicely-Nicely and Benny to Heckle and Jeckle and Laurel and Hardy.

When Rainey heard that there was going to be an upcoming national tour of the musical, he quickly went about looking into it. He was asked to come to New York to audition but couldn’t, so he sent in two audition tapes to the casting director. He was hired by virtue of those two tapes.