Metro Atlanta theaters full of fall LGBT fare
From Wonder Woman to Annie Potts, local stages love leading women
It’s time for the fall theater season, and virtually every theater company in the ATL has a new show that has just opened or is about to. Here’s a look at some potential gems of interest to the LGBT community for the 2014-2015 season.
The Alliance Theatre often hosts a world premiere musical as its season opener, and this year is no exception. The company’s “Bull Durham” is currently in previews, officially opening on Sept. 13. It’s based, of course, on the hit movie of the same name about Ron Shelton’s experiences as a minor league baseball player. Here Melissa Errico plays Annie Savoy, the groupie character brought to life by the wondrous Susan Sarandon in the film. In charge of the lyrics is bisexual musician/songwriter Susan Werner.
This is Werner’s first theatrical experience, and she is equally excited and nervous about it, but she feels that LGBT audiences will especially appreciate the musical. “I think the show is a battle of the sexes,” she says. “I think one of the delights of it is how playful Ron Shelton is with the sexes, with gender, fluidity, comments about fluidity, insecurity about fluidity. How playful he is with the battle of the sexes and integration of gender will be a delight to people.”
Also at the Alliance, and likely to be the LGBT ticket of the season, is a new take on “Steel Magnolias,” Robert Harling’s Southern comedy-drama. This version will be directed by Judith Ivey, who helmed the company’s “Carapace’ a few seasons ago, and will star the luminous Annie Potts as M’Lynn. Ivey and Potts were “Designing Women” co-stars.
WONDER WOMAN AND THE ELEPHANT MAN
Lesbian director Melissa Foulger won’t have much downtime this season. First up is her take on “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” Christopher Hampton’s sexy costume drama, currently playing at Actor’s Express. Soon after, Foulger is directing the award-winning comedy-drama “Clybourne Park” at Aurora Theatre. With a wonderful cast, including Tess Malis Kincaid, this production about race relations over a 50-year span should definitely be worth a look.
Synchronicity Theatre’s “Lasso of Truth” is another production that looks promising. It features some strong LGBT fare, says Rachel May, the artistic director who is directing the rolling world premiere. According to May, the play—written by Carson Kreitzer— is about sexual politics, in particular the life of William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who came up with the idea of comic book superhero Wonder Woman. His personal relationships were unorthodox, to say the least. “He and his wife Elizabeth were in a polyamorous relationship with another woman, Olive Byrne, a student of his,” says May.
The two women were eventually his inspiration for the character. May acknowledges their bond was bold for the time, circa the early 1940s. “It’s still not common,” she says. “I think it was under wraps at the time, but did some people know?” Marston was also into bondage, which works itself into the play. Gay actress Christen Orr is in the cast.
Throughout its history, 7 Stages has nev- er been afraid to go after edgy material, and that has not changed under the leadership of out artistic director Heidi S. Howard. In October the company is staging Suehyla El-Attar’s fantasy-comedy “The Doctor, The Devil and My Dad.” Onstage Atlanta, too, has never hesitated to do unorthodox plays. Besides the just-opened Topher Payne remount of “Perfect Arrangement,” out director Cathe Hall Payne will be staging the comedic “The Sugar Bean Sisters” in October.
Great theater also seems to be headed to Roswell and Dunwoody. Gay director David Crowe’s drama “The Elephant Man” opens at Georgia Ensemble Theatre soon, while Robert Egizio’s Stage Door Players has a humdinger in the drama “Rabbit Hole,” which—on Broadway—earned bisexual actress Cynthia Nixon a Tony Award as a mother grieving her son’s death.
That’s the tip of the iceberg—check individual websites for all productions.
‘Lasso of Truth’ opening this month at Synchronicity Theatre is a story about the creation of Wonder Woman and stars Bryn Striepe as The Amazon. Coming to the Alliance Theatre this fall is the classic ‘Steel Magnolias’ starring film and TV star Annie Potts as M’Lynn. (‘Lasso’ photo by Bree Anne Clowdus, Potts is publicity photo)