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A Home Run for Creativity

Island ETC Theatre’s Damn Yankees scores big with its queer-led cast.

(l-r) TC Cleveland, Ryan McClelland, Matt Poole, Rocky Banks, TJ Webb, Max Bailey, Aidan Jones, Trevor Moresco, Chris Garza; (top right) Hannah Kelly (Photography by Lucio Nieto)

“At Island ETC, we are celebrating the opening of baseball season with the hit Broadway musical Damn Yankees, says show director Kim Mytelka. Kim has been spearheading Island East-End Theatre Company (ETC) for the last 21 seasons, where she produces six shows and upholds the Island’s reputation for creativity, art, and inclusivity. Kim’s success alongside choreographer Jennifer Daugherty has allowed the company to continue its work here in Galveston. Last year, during the fall production in the current 21st season, Kim and company added performances to sold-out shows of Four Old Broads on the High Seas—something the company has had to do with other popular shows over the years. As part of her mission to produce quality work, the shows she selects feature a wide range of roles available to aspiring actors and artists alike. In her 20th season, Kim directed the queer-centric drag musical La Cage Aux Folles starring J. Kyle Crawford, voted Best Actor by Kyle also leads the cast in ETC’s current musical, Damn Yankees, in the role of Joe Hardy.

Island ETC Director Kim Mytelka

“Acting alongside my best friends and queer brothers gives me such joy,” says Kyle, referring to his stage mates Justin Gonzalez, in the role of Mr. Applegate (the Devil), and Cameron Dunbar in the role of team manager Ben Van Buren. “There’s an unmatched familiarity that makes it all the more fun on stage.” 

All three actors have been in numerous ETC productions led by Kim in recent years. The onstage bond has developed into true and sincere off-stage friendships, allowing an undeniable chemistry when they appear onstage together.

“It’s easy for queer actors to get pigeonholed into certain roles that fit their personality more than their talent,” says Justin. “I’m thrilled to share the stage with predominantly queer actors who are all playing traditionally heterosexual roles.”

“There is so much talk today about whether or not queer actors should play straight roles (and vice versa),” adds Cameron. “At the end of the day, it’s acting. I appreciate getting to flex my talent and artistry outside of my sexuality.”

All three leading members of this cast identify under the queer umbrella, allowing ETC to demonstrate its commitment to inclusivity by giving each actor a fair chance at taking on the roles of multi-layered characters. In Damn Yankees’ baseball-heavy narrative, each member of the company excels in their role—from lights and sound to costuming, stage direction, and choreography. The talent in ETC’s production of Damn Yankees truly knocks it out of the park (pun intended).

WHAT: Damn Yankees
When: Through April 13, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 8:00 p.m.
Where: Island ETC Theatre, 2317 Mechanic St. in Galveston


Lucio Nieto

Lucio Nieto is an entrepreneurial creative and the CEO of Grandson Studios. He currently works as the Brand Culture Expert at Del Sol & Cariloha in Galveston. Lucio serves his community by supporting youth in the performing arts and helping his neighbors with artistic service. Connect with Lucio and his mission by emailing him directly at [email protected], and follow his journey on social media @reikiminister.
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