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March Theater Roundup

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An expanded calendar of what to look for behind the curtain
by Donalevan Maines

For Houston theatergoers this year, March madness means standOUT productions and special events for the LGBT community.

Among the highlights are a Tony Award-winning play with Houston connections; only the second U.S. production of an epic Tony-winning trilogy; just the third outing for a new Edward Albee play; the show that won out actor Levi Kreis a Tony for

Out actress Alyssa Marie in Million Dollar Quartet.

portraying Jerry Lee Lewis; a feminist work that scored a 2010 best-play nomination; and a beloved Tony-winning musical complemented by outrageous fun at F Bar.

In chronological order, here’s the lineup:

Through March 4, Million Dollar Quartet is shakin’ the rafters at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Babgy St. The musical dramatizes the December 4, 1956, recording session of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun Record studio in Memphis, Tennessee. At Houston’s stop on the national tour is out actress Alyssa Marie, understudying the show’s only female character, Dyanne.

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Ryan and Austin Jacobs in Me, Myself & I.

Continuing through March 18 is Edge Theatre’s first production of Edward Albee’s new play Me, Myself & I with identical twins from Spring playing identical twins in the absurdist comedy. It’s directed by Jim Tommaney, himself an identical twin and a playwright. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday–Saturday and 3 p.m. Sundays at Midtown Art Center, 3414 La Branch St. Tickets are $20, $15 seniors, and $10 students. For reservations, write to [email protected] or call 832/894-1843.

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In case you missed it, Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia trilogy is extended through Sunday, March 18 at Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Blvd. View the three parts on consecutive days, or in a one-day marathon. The March 18 marathon begins at 11 a.m. with Voyage, followed by Shipwreck at 3 p.m. and Salvage at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the MST box office, online at mainstreettheater.com or by phone at 713/524-6706.

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Scott Wentworth in Red.

March 2–25 on the Hubbard Stage at the Alley Theatre is John Logan’s Red, a two-hander that won best play at the 2010 Tony Awards (along with best featured actor, direction and lighting, sound and scenic design).

In Red, master abstract expressionist Mark Rothko has just landed the biggest commission in the history of modern art—a series of murals for New York’s famed Four Seasons restaurant. As he works feverishly, his young assistant, Ken, gains the courage to challenge him with the agonizing possibility

Jay Sullivan in Red.

that the plum project could also become his Waterloo.

Is Ken gay? we wonder. Rothko wouldn’t know because he’s too consumed by his own ambition.

“We are pleased and privileged,” says artistic director Gregory Boyd, “to offer our production of Red in a place that is home to so much of Rothko’s work. The compelling paintings here in Houston offer an encounter with a spiritual power that approaches the transcendent, and that can, in Dominique de Menil’s words, ‘bring us to the threshold of the divine.’ The play has its own unique power, a purely theatrical potency.”

Red’s director Jackson Gay, who is from Sugar Land, triumphed with August: Osage County last year and the 2010 world premiere of Intelligence-Slave at the Alley. 

Tickets to Red start at $25 and are available for purchase at alleytheatre.org, at the box office (615 Texas Ave.), or by calling 713/220-5700. The ActOUT performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, includes a pre-curtain event for LGBT fans from 6–7:15 p.m.

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David Matranga and Tracie Thomason in In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play).

Another 2010 Tony best-play nominee (as well as best featured actress and costume design) will be presented March 14–April 8 at Stages Repertory Theatre. The regional premiere of In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) by Sarah Ruhl is directed by Leslie Swackhamer.

“It’s the late 19th century, and Dr. Givings has invented a shocking new electrical device to treat women with hysteria,’” she explains. “As his patients begin to blossom with the new treatment, the lonely Mrs. Givings can’t help but wonder what is happening in the next room.”

The cast includes Tracie Thomason, David Matranga, Kristin Warren, Steve Irish, Pamela Vogel, Courtney Jones, and Garrett Storms.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday–Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday–Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday at 3201 Allen Parkway. Tickets start at $19. Call 713/527-0123 or visit stagestheatre.com.

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Finally, the sun will come out tomorrow in a Theatre Under the Stars revival of Annie that features local kiddos and the return of out actor Bill Bateman, fresh from appearing in The Fantasticks in New York (it’s the longest-running musical in the world). TUTS will present 16 performances of Annie March 20–April 1 at the Hobby Center. Visit tuts.com for show times.

On Sunday, March 11, Houston actress Carolyn Johnson will portray “Older Annie” in an [email protected] program at F Bar. “She will be taking on a more sarcastic, bitter representation of Annie as she co-hosts the evening’s ‘Drag Live’ performance with Tye Blue,” explained TUTS PR manager Sam Byrd.

Leapin’ lizards! Johnson’s “Older Annie” sounds like she’s had a “Hard Knock Life” that’s left her more like Miss Hannigan than the optimistic young’un in the funny papers.

Main Street Theater presents Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia; it stars (l–r) Kregg Dailey and out actors Joel Sandel and Joe Kirkendall.

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.

 

 

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Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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