FAVORITE LOCAL (NON-DRAG) ENTERTAINER
FAVORITE LOCAL FEMALE ACTOR
FAVORITE FEMALE NURSE
The word that came to Christina Wells’ mind was “flabbergasted” when she found out she had won this year’s Gayest & Greatest awards for Favorite Local Female Actor, Favorite (Non-Drag) Entertainer, and Favorite Female Nurse.
The 47-year-old nurse-turned-chanteuse is overwhelmed with emotion that people noted her head-turning portrayal as Ursula in Theatre Under The Stars’ production of The Little Mermaid.
“I felt like I was going to cry when I [heard I] won the award, because I know how hard I worked, and I hoped what I was doing was good enough. I hoped I was on the right path, and this is a confirmation that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” she adds.
If Wells’ name sounds familiar, that’s likely because she earned national recognition on America’s Got Talent. Locally, we know her as a powerhouse vocalist with a heart of gold whose recent dabblings in musical theater are an extension of her passion.
“I love to sing, and I’ve been trying to focus on [my vocal skills] professionally for the past four years. But acting is something I’ve only focused on during this last year. I took classes, hired a coach, and transitioned my rawness into something that’s craftable on stage,” she says.
When Wells performs, she takes painstaking efforts to understand her character’s inner workings and deliver a fully developed version. It was quite a departure from her day-to-day self to bring that Ursula character out of the sea and onto the stage.
“When I act, these are characters who are very different from who I am personally. You have to define who they are, and then portray their role. You want to stand toe-to-toe and do your best. That’s why I feel so many feelings while working on these skills,” she says.
Those skills have taken her a lifetime to master, and she is finally seeing all of her hard work come to fruition in an almost prophetic way. “I have had these dreams since I was 15 years old. I won tickets on Sunny 99.1 to see South Pacific at TUTS. I’ve had these dreams for 30 years, waiting to be on stage.”
“Dreams aren’t just for the young. Talent is not just for the young. Opportunity is not just for the young. We can still achieve what we want to achieve no matter where we are in life or what we look like or what we sound like. There’s a place for all of us.”
Like every great plotline, Wells’ arc with Ursula met its own dramatic end. After just 11 performances, the “Poor Unfortunate Souls” belter hung up her tentacles when, halfway through the show’s scheduled run, COVID-19 shut down the production. Wells bade farewell to Ursula before she could give the character her proper final bow.
“I didn’t get to say goodbye to her. When I found out the remaining performances were canceled, I locked the door to my office and cried for hours. It was horrible. My heart was broken,” she remembers.
Despite the early curtain drop, Wells’ talent remains undeniable. She recently inked a deal for the 25th-anniversary national tour of Chicago: The Musical, where she’ll be playing the role of Matron Mama Morton for its year-long tour. It’s a role Wells feels she was created for since it will showcase her naturally theatrical spirit.
“I have so many voices and characters that are inside of me, and when I’m on stage, I get to use all of me,” she concludes. “I finally found a place where it’s okay to burst into song!”
For more info, visit christinawells.com.
BEST PERFORMING-ARTS ORGANIZATION
Houston Metropolitan Dance Center
Finalists: Houston Alliance of Latinx Arts, Houston Pride Band, Houston Symphony, Performing Arts Houston, Pride Chorus Houston
BEST COMMUNITY THEATER
The Catastrophic Theatre
Finalists: Art Factory, Classical Theatre Co., Dirt Dogs Theatre Co., The Ensemble Theatre
BEST LOCAL EQUITY THEATER COMPANY
Finalists: Stages, Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS)
FAVORITE REGIONAL EQUITY THEATER
Finalists: Alley Theatre, Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS)
FAVORITE LOCAL FEMALE ACTOR
Finalists: Tamarie Cooper, Mary Hooper, Susan Koozin, Aili Maeve, Amanda Marie Parker
FAVORITE LOCAL MALE ACTOR
Finalists: Doug Atkins, Dylan Godwin, Mark Ivy, Kyle Sturdivant, Abraham Zapata
FAVORITE LOCAL NONBINARY ACTOR
Finalists: Josh Levin, Chess MacElvaine, Robert Straight, T Lavois Thiebaud
BEST DANCE COMPANY
Finalists: Houston Contemporary Dance Co., Open Dance Project, Pilot Dance, Rivkah French Choreography, Urban Souls
FAVORITE LOCAL DANCER
Finalists: Belle Be Damed, Harrison Homer-Guy, Courtney Jones, Kristina Prats, jhon r. stronks
FAVORITE LOCAL FEMALE COMEDIAN
Finalists: Lesley the Comic, Emily Peacock, Dusti Rhodes
FAVORITE LOCAL MALE COMEDIAN
Finalists: Zahid Dewji, Chinedu Ogu, Grady Pruitt
FAVORITE LOCAL NONBINARY COMEDIAN
Finalist: T Lavois Thiebaud
FAVORITE LOCAL LGBTQ MUSICIAN
Finalists: Christie Hein/Christie Alan Music, Sugar Jokio, Trent Lira, Shayna Powers, Uncle Tino
FAVORITE LOCAL FEMALE FINE ARTIST
Finalists: Jan Golden, Rikki Mitman, Kristy Peet,
Heather J. Taylor, Sherry Tseng Hill, Abiola Wabara
FAVORITE LOCAL MALE FINE ARTIST
Finalists: Wood Fancher Anthony, Fabian Echavarri,
Joe Haden, Bogdan Mihai, Hugo Perez
FAVORITE LOCAL NONBINARY FINE ARTIST
Finalists: Urethra Burns, Alex Ramos, Robert L. Straight
FAVORITE LOCAL PAINTER
Wood Fancher Anthony
Finalists: Robin Baker, Katharine Ligon, Edgar Medina, Patrick Palmer, Hugo Perez
FAVORITE LOCAL SCULPTOR
Finalists: Patrick Medrano, Nestor Topchy, Patrick Renner, Robert L. Straight, Ben Woitena
FAVORITE LOCAL VISUAL ARTIST
Finalists: Wood Fancher Anthony, Katharine Ligon, Rikki Mitman, Crystal Murley, Alex Ramos
BEST ART CENTER
MATCH – Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston
Finalists: Art League Houston, Moody Center for the Arts, Silver Street Studios, Winter Street Studios
BEST ART GALLERY
Finalists: Art League Houston, Bogdan Foto Art, Hardy & Nance Studios, RobinWood Art Studio, Taft McWhorter Art, Winter Street Studios
FAVORITE LOCAL MUSEUM
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Finalists: Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Holocaust Museum Houston, Menil Collection, National Museum of Funeral History, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, 1940 Air Terminal Museum
For a full list of winners, go here.
This article appears in the October 2022 edition of OutSmart magazine.