It’s funny that Bootycandy, which Catastrophic Theatre performs through March 10 at The MATCH, portrays a gay black teenager whose homophobic parents are upset that their son is being cast as the Scarecrow in The Wiz.
It’s funny, period, but especially because last fall, Robert O’Hara, who wrote Bootycandy, directed The Wiz in a Theatre Under the Stars production that has been called “the gayest, blackest The Wiz ever.”
OutSmart previewed that production in an interview with O’Hara in the October 2018 issue.
Bootycandy, which opened February 15, follows the character of Sutter (played by Xzavien Hollins) from a youngster in his underwear, through adolescence, to an out man in his twenties who has become a writer.
“The play starts in the 1970s, and it’s about things that happen to a lot of gay men today, and for centuries before, but hopefully they won’t keep happening so much,” said Hollins, who is openly gay. “It is a show that is for everybody. Everybody will see themselves in it. A lot of people in this world are made to wonder ‘Are you enough?’ [because of the] people who are meant to love you unconditionally, like family and peers.”
The off-Broadway comedy, which won a 2014 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Drama, might be especially hilarious for audiences who get tickled by characters’ names that include Intafada, Eudarrie, and Genitalia Lakeitha Shalama Abdul.
Some titles of the show’s sketch-like scenes include “Dreamin in Church,” “Drinks and Desire,” and “Last Gay Play.”
“The author drew from a lot of things in his own life in the African-American community,” says Hollins.
In fact, O’Hara told OutSmart that he played the Scarecrow in a high school production of The Wiz. What made that especially sweet is that O’Hara’s childhood idol, Michael Jackson, played the role in the 1978 movie version of the musical.
However, in Bootycandy, sensing that her son’s performing in a musical is another sign that he’s gay, Sutter’s mother responds, “You are not going to be in no damn Wiz . . . I don’t care if Michael Jackson’s mama played the Scarecrow!”
Hollins was born in Orange County, California, where his father was based as a U.S. Marine. He and his family moved around “a little bit” before settling in suburban Houston.
“The majority of the time, I went to Alief Hastings, but I graduated from George Bush High School in Richmond in 2005,” he says.
At Bush High, Hollins starred as Ben, the black hero of Night of the Living Dead, a stage adaptation and “comedic tribute” to George A. Romero’s 1968 classic horror movie of the same name.
Hollins won a scholarship to Stephen F. Austin University, where he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater performance. Among his roles at SFA were Boy Willie in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Pato Dooley (with an Irish accent) in Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane.
He worked extensively at Milwaukee Repertory Theater before returning to Houston, where he’s appeared in a number of shows at Catastrophic, as well as at Classical Theatre Company and others.
Next up is a role in Toast, conceived and directed by Brian Jucha, which runs from April 12 to May 5.
However, Hollins might not be long for Houston.
“I will probably leave the city at some point,” says the actor, who also works in retail. “Theater is a hobby. It is very hard to make a living here; it rarely happens. I am 32 and on the fence, like a lot of people in this world. I have to decide, ‘Am I going to just be a money-hunter?’”
When: Feb. 15—March 10
Where: MATCH, 3400 Main St.