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Archive for August, 2011

Local Theater Spotlight: Shadowbox’s ‘Legacy’

There have always been a few kinks that have always come with the Shadowbox Live experience. Crammed, uncomfortable seating. The many annoyances that come with mall parking. The many annoyances that come with mall shoppers. And the a hit-or-miss sound system.

These kinks have typically gone overlooked by its fans because the value of the Shadowbox experience has always been exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.

Now that Shadowbox has moved from Columbus’ Easton Town Center to their new-and-improved space downtown in the Brewery District, the sketch comedy/rock ‘n’ roll troupe has gone from an underground darling to a Midwest destination.

The troupe opened their first showcase in the new location August 19 with “Legacy,” a musical and theatrical romp down memory lane, featuring a host of “best hits” from their 20-year history.

A quick note on the new space: The new stage area resembles the setup of a spacious 1960’s cabaret. The balcony has been replaced by a three-tiered floor plan where every seat has a perfect view of the stage. And speaking of the stage, it’s twice as large, with just a many lighting bells and whistles, and a sound quality that rivals any major theatre’s system in Columbus. The troupe’s new “Backstage Bistro” welcomes you at the front with a plush fine dining area and fully-stocked bar (as opposed to the long line down a linoleum hallway that you were usually met with atEaston). And there’s even a gift shop to entice you on your way out.

And “Legacy” definitely lives up to anything that was presented at theEastonlocation. (I took a gander at the Aug. 25th showing.) The troupe is now comprised of both their Newport and Columbus staffs and the doubled cast took complete advantage of the larger stage. And Shadowbox house band “Bill Who?” was phenomenal, sounding better than ever.

Notable moments? Stacie Boord’s goose bumps-inducing performance of Etta James’ “Ball and Chain.” The drumming explosion that resulted from Matt “The Beast” Buchwalter and Brandon Smith taking the stage on several songs with side-by-side drum sets. Shadowbox’s well known misbehaving elementary class led by a neurotic school teacher (Mary Randle) taking on “The Wizard of Oz.” The return of my favorite sketch, “Love is a Battlefield,” where the minds of a typical arguing couple turns into a over-the-top, subterranean mêlée. Shadowbox director Stev Guyer draped in a spiffy all-white suit and sounding the best I’ve ever heard him on “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers Band. And the show stopping, full-cast dance number on the Janet Jackson classic “Rhythm Nation” (bravely choreographed by Katy Psenicka) led by the incomparable Noelle Grandison.

“Legacy” is like watching a talented duckling turn into a rock star swan, right before your eyes. Seeing you’re scrawny, dingy t-shirt wearing nephew gain a bulky six pack and a tailored suit over the summer. The response after Ty Pennigton yells “Move that bus!” Shadowbox’s new digs are finally an outward representation of the organization’s long and well-documented inner brilliance. And “Legacy” is the perfect welcome tribute, giving the audience a glance at the strong past that lead the troupe to their shinny new present.

“Legacy” runs at Shadowbox Live, 503 S. Front Street, Columbus, through Nov. 12. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. For more information visit www.shadowboxlive.org.

Ohio Queers: GetEQUAL held protest at Statehouse Friday [PHOTOS], Equality Ohio holding EHEA Rally Sept. 27

As planned, the local branch of GetEQUAL hosted a protest outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus Friday afternoon. A small but mighty group of activists stood along Broad Street downtown with signs that said things like “I can loose my job for being transgender.” It was an effort to educate the city on the inequalities faced by Ohio’s LGBT citizens, in preparation for the Equal Housing and Employment Act, which is set to be discussed in Ohio’s legislature starting next month.

Here’s a statement about the event (exclusive to Queer Corner) from Tom Morgan, State Lead Organizer for GetEQUAL in Ohio:

Concerned “queer” activists showed up on Broad Street at the Statehouse on Friday to help get the word out about the EHEA or Equal Housing Employment Act that will be introduced, again, next month. They came with bull horns, signs, banners, and a clear message. WE ARE NOT YET EQUAL! A similar bill was introduced in the last Ohio session, but was stopped in it’s tracks by Senate Republican President Bill Harris. Now retired. Ohio is an “at will” employment state, however bigotry is written into these laws as well. Persons may be fired here with little effort. However, there is still a list of things that a person cannot be fired for: race, creed, religion, etc. “Queers” need to be ON that list as well, or possibly fall prey to it’s subtle bigotry. We also believe it’s wrong to be denied housing just for being true to yourself.

Equality Ohio is also planning to host a rally, press conference and Lobby Day at the Statehouse in honor of the Equal Housing and Employment Act Sept. 27 at 1:30 p.m. It’s the same day Representatives Ross McGregor and Nickie Antonio will introduce EHEA in the House.  For more information visit www.equalityohio.org.

Below are a few more photos from the GetEQUAL protest, courtesy of Morgan. For more on GetEQUAL visit www.getequal.org.

Closeted YouTube solider outed while still deployed

The mysterious gay YouTube solider that I featured on Queer Corner a little while ago has moved past the gay blogosphere, with his story hitting the mainstream last week.

He posted a YouTube video of a military band’s brilliant cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” that hit 17,000 page views in just a few hours. It was featured on Carson Daily’s talk show and is now well past 1 million views. That video was discovered by members of his platoon and the connection was soon made that he was the headless gay soldier in the other videos.

There seems to only be about 25 people in his unit, and he’s recently reported that they were all extremely accepting and supportive, so it doesn’t look like he’s going to be further outed.

I’ve already made my stance clear on how much I admire what this kid is doing in my other post, but I did want to add something. By sharing his story and being out at work, he’s now proving that gays can be out in a unit without “disrupting cohesion.” This is a common argument used by Republicans and anti-gay activists to back their belief that gay service members should stay in the closet. This faceless young man’s timid voice is disproving 20 years of hateful theorizing.

Check out his latest video below, in which he discusses how he was outed by the “Rolling in the Deep” video and how he recently came out to his girlfriend. He plans to show his face once he’s told his family and after the DADT repeal officially goes into affect Sept. 25.

Ross Mathews takes over ‘Chelsea Lately’ (again), announces his new show on E!

I’ve already made mentioned that I’m a huge fan of comedian Ross Mathews, ever since his stint as “Ross the Intern” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. And this week he was again asked to take over for Chelsea Handler and host Chelsea Lately, Monday night.

He of coursed killed, as usual, being his cheeky and adorable self during an interview with child-star-turned-hunk Joey Lawrence. But that wasn’t the best part. He’s also going to be getting his own show on the E! Network! You can check out more details on the show over at TVGuide.com. I’m super excited for Ross and I definitely can’t wait to see what his own show will look like. I already can tell it’s going to be a hoot and a half! 🙂

Check out video of Ross hosting Chelsea this week below:

‘Glee’ creators release first promo for Season 3!

I know I wasn’t the only one super excited about this!…right?

It’s only 30 seconds, but the first Season 3 promo came from Glee yesterday and I nearly squealed with delight when I saw it. It features Coach Sue pelting members the glee club with dodge balls. Sadly Kurt only appears for like a milisecond, and there’s no sign of Blaine, but I thought it was creative and defintely got its point across.

Check out the promo below:

The Glee cast also appeared in a video for Fashion’s Night Out in NYC that was shot by Vogue magazine. It’s a must watch. The runway looks in it are sickening and the cast looks amazing. However, there is the glaring omission of Amber Riley who plays Mercedes, that still hasn’t been explained. Check out the full video below:

Local Theater Spotlight: ‘Jersey Boys’

Tonight the Ohio Theatre hosted a “press night” for its three-week run of Jersey Boys, as the national tour sets up shop in Columbus through September 4.

Broadway’s 2006 Best Musical Tony-winner about the sordid rise of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons (America’s Beatles before The Beatles), definitely pleased the mostly middle-aged audience at the packed Ohio Theatre. An intense standing ovation immediately struck as soon as the last chord of the group’s 1975 hit “Who Loves You” was strung.

The show was electrifying. And though my only experience with The Four Seasons has been “oldies” radio and the late Heath Ledger’s swoon-worthy performance of “Can’t Take My Eyes of You” in the 1999 Julie Stiles vehicle 10 Things I Hate About You, it had me captivated from start to finish. The musical is a true testament to the undeniable longevity of classic music. (Interesting side note: The real Frankie Valli, who, surprisingly, is still touring at age 77, will be making his way through Columbus for a holiday show Dec. 9.)

Anyone who hasn’t seen “Jersey Boys” could easily dismiss it as your typically clichéd jukebox musical. A simple male rip off of Dreamgirls. The rags-to-riches tales of pop music stars has been told and retold for centuries. And the story about a group of Italian rough necks fromNew Jersey that make it, against all odds, to the top of the Billboard Charts during the 1960s is as cliché a tale as they come. Not to mention, classic hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like A Man” and “Bye Bye Baby” have been heard in more movies and commercials than one would care to remember.

So why then does “Jersey Boys” still rock the house in 2011?  Again, it goes back to a cliché. Brilliant storytelling will always pay.

Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s Tony-nominated book breaths new life into the Bob Gaudio music and Bob Crewe lyrics that made The Four Seasons legends. Brickman and Elice perfectly build the first act, filled with the ruckus behind Four Seasons originator Tommy DeVito’s (Matt Bailey) shady tactics, toward that first hit that finally put the quartet on the map. When Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli) sings the last note of “Sherry” the crowd erupts with satisfaction. Brickman and Elice somehow transports you back to 1962, it’s as if you’re actually watching the group “make it” in real time.

Bailey, Bwarie, Steve Gouveia (Nick Massi) and Quinn VanAntwerp (Gaudio) are a harmonizing dream team as the four leading men. It’s as if Valli’s signature falsetto was transplanted into Bwarie’s vocal chords.

The show’s visuals are equally stunning. Howell Binkley’s Tony-winning lighting nearly steals the show on its own. The Lichtenstein-style projections, period video footage and Jess Goldstein’s era-eccentric costumes perfectly enhanced the spectacle.

We’ve seen many of the themes in this show before—a family torn apart by a traveling musician, fame dangerously heightening a man’s addiction (this time it’s gambling), the drama of a budding star outshining the rest of the group—but we haven’t seen a jukebox musical that’s well written, well staged and well orchestrated from top to bottom, until Jersey Boys.

“Jersey Boys” runs through September 4 at the Ohio Theatre, 39 E. State Street, Columbus. Tickets are $57.50 to $127.50. Call 614-469-0939 or visit www.broadwayacrossamerica. com.

Queer Corner Quickie #28: Seattle Mariners, Alexander McQueen, Ann Coulter, Staceyann Chin, Ricky Martin, Jane Espenson, Rep. Phillip Hinkle

A quick roundup of this week’s gay happenings…

Video of the Week: All the major pro sports teams of Seattle joined together to make a powerful submission to the It Gets Better Project.

And speaking of, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick released his own It Gets Better video this week.

A Denver lesbian faces deportation Aug. 19, wife helpless because of DOMA.

This week David Boies and Ted Olson, lead attorneys in the American Foundation for Equal Rights’ federal challenge to Proposition 8, accepted the American Bar Association Medal. It is the organization’s highest honor.

Marriage News Watch posted a new video this week with updates on marriage equality and anti-gay marriage initiatives around the country.

The Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met closed recently and the NY Times is reporting that the exhibit was record breaking, becoming the eighth most popular exhibit in museum’s history. Here’s video of the exhibit.

It was reported last week that Rudolf Brazda, that last living gay holocaust survivor, had passed at age 98. But the Dallas Voice is now reporting that there is another living gay holocaust survivor and his name is Gad Beck.

Ann Coulter has become the newest Board Member for GOProud, the gay conservative group that’s been making waves in the press lately. Here’s a video of Coulter on C-SPAN where she refers to herself as a gay icon. Huh???

Rick Santorum continues to embarrass himself on the campaign trail.

Gay Bashings ReportConvictions upheld in Colorado transgender murder

Great America amusement park in Santa Clara, California is being sued by a gay couple who were targeted there recently. After getting off a ride it was discovered that the picture of them (the one that’s typically taken while your on a ride and aviable for sale afterwards) was posted on another ride for display with the words “Were [sic] Fags” scrawled in neon underneath.

LOL ALERT! John Stamos’ Guide to Cuddling featuring Bob Saget.

Over at The Bilerico Project there’s a great series called Top LGBT Voices Name History’s Essential LGBT Figures.

The LA Times published an amazing feature on Dave Kruger, the first ever openly gay Republican Presidential Candidate.

It’s geting more and more unsafe for gays in Ghana by the day. This week came news that The Presbyterian Church of Ghana is planning to set up “therapy centers” for “homosexual victims” featuring “counselling and rehabilitation” in various communities across the country.

Madonna’s Gaga Nightmare continues.

Here’s a sneak peak of VH1’s new Behind the Music special on Ricky Martin featuring his struggles with being in the closet throughout his career. The special airs tonight at 10 p.m.

Jane Espenson’s (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse) new Web series Husbands premieres Sept. 13. It’s been described as Mad About You meets Will & Grace, with a dash of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Here’s a interview with Espenson and the show’s stars, Brad “Cheeks” Bell, and Sean Hemeon.

Last year Aisha and Danielle Moodie-Mills were the first same-sex couple to be featured in Essence.com’s Bridal Bliss wedding features. Now Essence.com offers another feature updating their readers on the couple’s first year of marriage.

Staceyann Chin (an amazing poet and woman I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying dinner with), recently wrote an amazing piece for The Huffington Post called A Single Lesbian’s Quest for Motherhood.

Rep. Phillip Hinkle is the latest Republican Congressman to be caught with his (gay) pants down. He was caught this week picking up an 18-year-old on Craig’s List for a steamy hotel rendezvous. The young man and his sister turned over all of the detailed email correspondences between him and Hinkle to the press. The story(via The Indiana Star) is so thoroughly juicy, I actually felt bad for the guy, for like two seconds.

Out gay CNN contributor LZ Granderson put out an article that’s been getting some buzz. It’s called “‘Date night’ was wrecking my love life” and portends that “date nights” are what’s killing marriages today. He was even interviewed on air about his view.

Photo of the Week: The below sign is being displayed at a Wilmington, North Carolina church, which the pastor is defending in the press. Wilmington Pride is planning a peaceful protest outside the church tomorrow.