Saturday, July 27, 2013

Interview with Colin Earyes and David Cronin of "Bare"

This weekend the White Plains Performing Arts Center is producing the Westchester regional premiere of the rock opera "Bare."  This musical about a relationship between two boys at a Catholic high school generated a lot of buzz in its previous productions.

I met with Colin Earyes and David Cronin, the two actors playing Jason and Peter, the couple at the heart of Bare to talk about the show and their lives.

What is your theatrical background?

Colin: I went to West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and graduated with a BA in Musical Theater Performance. Since graduating I have performed with various regional theaters, tours, and a world premier musical.

David: I am currently a B.M. student at the Conservatory of Music of Brooklyn College double majoring in Music Education and Voice Performance. I have been fortunate enough to have performed with Nevada Opera, City-Wide Youth Opera, LaGuardia Arts Opera Workshop, Brooklyn College Opera Workshop, the Fresh Fruit Festival, the Fringe Festival, TADA! Youth Theater Co., as well as the Britney Spears Camp for the Performing Arts. I am currently studying voice with Richard Barrett.

What made you both want to be part of this production of "Bare?"

David: I absolutely love this show, and this show is never done.  Fourteen year old me is dying inside that I get to sing this role.

Colin: Before auditioning I didn't know anything about the musical. I had just finished a show in Rhode Island and was looking for auditions. I heard about the show through a friend and since the theater had a great reputation I auditioned.

What have been some of the challenges for you in preparing for your roles?

Colin: The hardest challenge has been finding and expressing the emotional weight of this show. In two hours these characters go through more emotional struggles and turmoil than most people see in a lifetime. The story and message of this show is so incredibly important and beautiful that I wanted to make sure that I became the emotions and not just acted them.

David: Peter is a vocally demanding role and he goes on an emotional roller coaster. Balancing these two factors has been interesting during the rehearsal process.

David, tell me a little about Peter.

David: Peter is a seventeen year old senior at a Catholic boarding school who is in a secret relationship with the school's "golden boy." Peter is a bit of a loner and extremely introverted. Peter is friendly with everyone and no one dislikes him, but Jason is probably the most genuine relationship Peter has ever shared. When we meet Peter he is at a turning point in his life, he is about to graduate and leave this world he's created behind which provokes many questions.

Do you identify with him?

David: I feel extremely connected with Peter. Growing up a homosexual in a Catholic upbringing made me ask a lot of the same questions Peter asks. (I was even an altar boy.) I have to admit though, Peter is far braver than I ever was. He doesn't know how to be anything but himself. It's an honor to play such a brave and young hero who happens to be a homosexual. 

Colin, as David mentioned your character Jason is described as a "golden boy" and a “popular jock.”  In what ways are you like him?

Colin: Surprisingly I had a very similar high school life as Jason. I was the captain of our hockey team and also was the lead in the school plays. Unfortunately my senior year was also surrounded by a relationship debacle that left me emotionally distraught because of various lies, so I also have that to draw back on for character development.

So Jason is the golden boy, but Peter in many ways is the stronger of the two.  David, where do you think his strength comes from?

David: Peter is more of a fully realized person than Jason is. I think this probably comes from their upbringing. Although Peter's mother struggles with her son being a homosexual, she is an extremely nurturing and loving mother. However Jason and his sister Nadia grew up in an environment that was extremely superficial and probably not very affectionate. It explains how Peter could be so brave while Jason who has everything going for him could be so scared.

Jason's story has a rather tragic, and sadly avoidable outcome.  Colin, what would you say someone like him who is struggling with his identity?

Colin: Just to accept themselves and that although they feel alone they truly are not. There are always friends to reach out too and understand. There is no need to ever feel alone. 

Bare has a fairly large cast, which can sometimes be a challenge for creating a unified ensemble.  What has it been like for you?  Any cast mates that you've bonded with in particular?

David: Honestly, this cast has been wonderful to work with. I have met some incredible new people of whom I can now call friends. It has been such an honor to work with and get to know Colin Earyes, Triona O'Callaghan, Kerri George, Richie Barella, Adam Welsh, Sarah Teresa Brown and Paulette Oliva.

Colin: Thankfully this cast all arrived with our baggage at the door. We all knew from day one the weight of this show and all came together to deliver that. Most importantly the five leads REALLY clicked. We all take the train back to Manhattan and the chemistry has been there from the start. Besides the fact that they are all extraordinarily talented they are also very genuine friends which helped the chemistry of this show shine through and reach a new level. 

What has been your best experience so far in this production?

David: Some of the cast met up to celebrate Pride in New York City and then later that day attended a choreography rehearsal. Needless to say it was unforgettable.

Colin: Sunday. This past Sunday we had our first day of tech and full show run through. Suddenly everything fell into place, the messages and content became real, and by the end of the show the entire cast was so emotionally involved and focused that we were all crying. We saw our show truly come to life for the first time.

What is your favorite song from the show and why?

Colin: The title song, "Bare", is incredible and very powerful, but, my favorite is "Cross." It is the song between Jason and the Priest after Jason's world crashes down around him. The raw ping-ponging of emotions is unlike anything I have ever had to experience before. I go from desperation to hope to sadness, anger, and finally an all around emotional break down all in the span of about 3 1/2 minutes. It takes a lot of honesty and listening to the other performer but the challenge and new emotional experience makes it extremely powerful to perform.  

David: "Quiet Night at Home" is a piece that everyone can relate to. You don't have to be the heavy girl to understand or to have had experienced that moment. Triona O'Callaghan slays this song.

What kind of reaction do you hope to get from the audience?

Colin: I would love to bring them to tears, however, if they are just moved because of what they watched and not what they learned and lived through in those two hours then I will not be satisfied. I want the audience to see that these struggles are actually happening throughout the world today and hopefully leave with a new perspective on the severity of these struggles. 

David: I hope to inspire. The content of this show is very real. I hope to take them on this emotional trip with me.

Colin, for you what is the takeaway message of the play?

Colin: That being yourself is never not ok. Believe in your own true identity and stay true to yourself.

What else is coming up for you two this year?

Colin: After the show closes it will be back to auditioning. Two of my great friends are getting married in October and I will be singing their wedding so I haven't been auditioning much as so not to conflict with their special day.

David: On August 24th I will be giving a concert at Pier 57 in New York City as a featured up and coming artist with the NYCFiveHundred. I will be performing a small BARE vignette featuring some of the cast in my set.

If you had the chance to play any role, in this play or some other, what would you choose?

David: In "Bare," Ivy, with out a doubt. She is such a multi-layered character and sings some of the best music in the show.

Colin: "Jersey Boys" has always been a favorite show of mine but as of right now Gabe in "Next To Normal" is the role I am hoping to play the most. 

For tickets visit the WPPAC website.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Roundup - Engagements, Weddings, Breakups and Lots of Shows

Billy Magnussen in talks to play Rapunzel's prince in the film version of "Into the Woods."

Harvey Fierstein OpEd about Russia's crackdown on gays.

Rory O'Malley
Rory O'Malley engaged.

LGBT '80s prom fundraiser for Asheville, NC theatre.

Review of "Entertaining Mr. Sloane."

More on the play "Up 4 a Meet."

I love the name of this one - "Molly Wobbly's Tit Factory."

A new gay anthem?  Oscar Thomas' "We Will Know."

Little Orphan trAshley
Campy gay version of "Annie."

"Show Me Yours, I'll Show You Mine" explores sex work.

20th anniversary production of Jonathan Harvey's "Beautiful Thing" to be available online.

Actors talk about freeFall Theatre's production of "Spring Awakening."

Fringe theatre in Detroit.

Alvin Ailey dancers wed after fall of DOMA.

Clint Eastwood looking to Broadway for film version of "Jersey Boys."

Interview with Chicago's Bill Brown.

Are Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming Broadway bound?  Michael Musto says yes.

Creative team for Broadway version of "Magic Mike" announced.

"SMASH"-inspired benefit concert coming soon?

This may be my favorite picture of John Barrowman.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita wed.

But not all the relationship news is good.  Zachary Quinto and Jonathan Groff break up.

Kristin Chenoweth shares her passion for  the movie "Grease."

Broadway stars react to Emmy nominations.

Jane Lynch talks about Cory Monteith.

Can small theatres survive in New York without politician's help?

Applications due soon for Off Broadway Alliance mentorship.

Addiction: The Disease That Kills.

Review - "Shocks and C*cks 5" at the Horse Trade Burlesque Blitz

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see more of Horse Trade's Burlesque Blitz this year, but if I only had time to see one show, I'm happy it was the self-described "sausage fest" of "Shocks and Cocks 5."  As usual, impresario of all things ecdysiastical Jonny Porkpie has gathered a unique and talented group of boylesque artists to ply their trade (and lose their clothes), in this annual event.

Although sparsely attended (the show was at 1 AM), the enthusiastic audience loudly enjoyed the show.

After treating the audience to a clever rap about his lack of endowment, Porkpie introduced the acts.  Shocks and Cocks regular Hard Cory kicked things off with a strip to "Ain't No Sunshine."  It ended with a trick involving a bottle of beer.  I'll leave it at that.

Brooklyn Irons, the man with the dance moves and the tree trunk legs, did his own fascinatingly anatomical bottle trick in his act, this one involving a bottle of vodka and a shot glass.  I will most certainly leave it at that.

Creamed Stu was next as a sexy crossing guard (watch out, Molly Equality Dykeman, there's another performer out there who looks good in a reflective vest).  With an infectious grin and some fun dance moves, Stu seemed to be having the time of his life.

Coney Island performer Ray Valenz followed after a short break (more on that later) with his juggling act.  It's pretty exciting watching someone juggle knives.  It's more exciting when he's naked.  Those under the leg throws?  Excruciating to watch knowing that there is cold hard steel getting that close to... well, you know.  Valenz was a great addition to the show, with both a winning personality and great audience patter (not to mention a lithe figure that was easy on the eyes).

Boylesque stalwart Tigger! was next with the most elaborate performance of the evening.  Decked out as a French Beat poetess, Tigger! pouted, lip-synced and danced his way through an amazing strip, all to the thunderous snapping of the audience (it was meant to be a '60s Beat performance, you wouldn't want anything as vulgar as clapping, after all).

Jonny Porkpie rounded out the evening with a plumber-inspired strip (with a cringe-inducing use of pasties tape and a pipe) to Elvis' version of "Danny Boy."

The short break in the middle of the show that I mentioned was a contest.  A handsome audience member was called up on stage (he had been a little boisterous during the show... always dangerous at a Porkpie production).   He, in turn, got to choose two more people in the audience to join him (one of them was my plus one at the show, which amused me no end).  The contest was Shocks Or Cocks.  The contestants either had to shock the cast and audience (with a confession, trick or something similar) or, well, show their cock.

Given that one of the contestants was a woman, it was hardly a fair contest.

The boisterous boy, after some initial hemming and hawing, dropped his pants and showed the audience the goods.  Not to be outdone, the young lady followed suit with a somewhat more modest strip (perhaps she'll be in future Porkpie shows).  My friend chose the Shock option, grabbing the shorts of the boisterous boy and stripping him naked again.

Naturally, the boisterous boy won the contest (two cock shots beating a pair of boobs and a shock).  He walked away with a copy of Jonny Porkpie's burlesque mystery novel "The Corpse Wore Pasties."  If you're going to trade your dignity for something, a Porkpie book is not a bad choice.

Shocks and Cocks 5 was a fun show, delivering exactly what it promised.  I was especially happy to some of the burlesque artists from Matt Knife's monthly Homo Erectus show involved in this production (both Brooklyn Irons and Lewd Alfred Douglas, who was the evening's "stage kitten" and costume wrangler, are Homo Erectus regulars).

I can't believe I have to wait a full year to see the next one.


Want your own copy of "The Corpse Wore Pasties," but don't want to pull out your goodies in front of a theatre full of people?  You're in luck.  Click the links below.



Broadway Meows Benefit Concert Monday Night.



Featuring the songs of SETH BISEN-HERSH

JUSTIN BARNETTE (Encores! Fiorello!)
BRIAN CHILDERS (Danny and Sylvia)
DANA COSTELLO (Jekyll & Hyde)
KIMBERLY FAYE GREENBERG (One Night with Fanny Brice)
AMY GRIFFIN (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
LARA JANINE (Rock of Ages)
RORI NOGEE (Showgirls! the Musical)
CASSIE OKENKA (Bonnie and Clyde)
ADAM SHAPIRO (2013 MAC Award Winner)
STACY SHIRK (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog)
HALEY SWINDAL (Jekyll & Hyde)
ELISA WINTER (Sweeney Todd)


$15 Cover/ 2 Drink Minimum (cash only)
Don't Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St.
Call for reservations after 4: 212-757-0788 or online at

Produced by Dennis Fowler
Directed by Melissa Eli
Stage Manager: Heather Ber

The 5th Annual Broadway Meows Concert for the Humane Society of New York will be presented at Don't Tell Mama, one night only, Monday, July 22nd at 7pm. The evening will be comprised of songs by composer/ lyricist Seth Bisen-Hersh. Bisen-Hersh will be joined on stage by a phenomenal cast including Karmine Alers (Rent), Justin Barnette (Encores! Fiorello!), Jaime Cepero (Smash), Brian Childers (Danny and Sylvia), Dana Costello (Jekyll & Hyde), Brandon J. Ellis (Once), Kimberly Faye Greenberg (One Night with Fanny Brice), Amy Griffin (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), Teresa Hui, Lara Janine (Rock of Ages), Aaron Keller, Kaitlin Kiyan (Hair), Miriam Kushel, Melissa Mitchell (Giant), Rori Nogee (Showgirls! the Musical), Cassie Okenka (Bonnie and Clyde), David Perlman (Baby, It's You), Adam Shapiro (2013 MAC Award Winner), Stacy Shirk (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog), Haley Swindal (Jekyll & Hyde) and Elisa Winter (Sweeney Todd). The concert will be produced by Dennis Fowler, directed by Melissa Meli, stage managed by Heather Ber.

The audience can expect to hear 20 songs from Bisen-Hersh's catalog featuring songs from Love Quirks, More to Love, Stanley's Party, Malka, If Adele Can Do It, So Can I, The Final Frontier and more. Songs will include "Um, Yeah...", "Dear Facebook", "It's Not You, It's Me", "Can You Believe I Was Ever Sad We Broke Up?" and the popular youtube hit, "Hey!".

All the proceeds for the evening will go to the Humane Society of New York, which has "cared for animals in need when illness, injury or homelessness strikes" for over 100 years. The Humane Society saved Bisen-Hersh's cat, Smee's, life in 2009, and this annual benefit is his way of saying thanks.

For more information, please click:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Roundup - More Gay Plays at Capital Frings, Jim Brochu's New Show, Taylor Lautner

One Night in New York at the Capital Fringe.

Interview with Alex Timbers of Love's Labours Lost.

Pilobolus review.

Review of Jim Brochu's latest one-man show, coming to NYC this September.

Taylor Lautner hangs out backstage with the Blue Man Group.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Shocks & C*cks All-Nude, All-Dude Revue This Weekend

They're back.  Porkpie International and Horse Trade will be presenting their 5th all-nude, all-dude burlesque revue this Friday night (well, Saturday morning, technically at 1 AM).

Shocks & Cocks 5: Hot Meat will feature the burlesque talents of Jonny Porkpie, Tigger!, Hard Cory, and making their S&C debut Brooklyn Irons, Creamed Stu, Matt Knife, and more.  A sizzling platter of hot male striptease, this after-hours all-you-can-eat summer BBQ sausage fest brings the biggest names in boylesque and the hottest up-and-comers to the stage to bare it all… especially their talent.

"The guys are very excited to finally have a show in the summer months," said producer and host Jonny Porkpie. "There has been some concern in the past that — because of the cold weather — they weren't putting their, well, best foot forward. But in the heat of July, they'll be able to reach their full, um, potential."

SHOW:  SHOCKS & COCKS 5: Hot Meat part of the 2013 Summer Burlesque Blitz
DATE & TIME:  Friday Night / Saturday Morning at 1:00am July 20
VENUE:  The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street
TICKETS:  $20, available at
STARRING:  Jonny Porkpie, Tigger!, Hard Cory, and making their S&C debut Brooklyn Irons, Creamed Stu, Matt Knife, and more!

Roundup - Westboro, Your Dream Role, Youth Theatre Workshop

Jimmy Grzelak
Always disappointing when someone trashes a show without bothering to see it, but at least it led me to find out more about a young playwright, Jimmy Grzelak (and now I to want to learn more about his show Betty White: The Musical).

Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket Cory Monteith's funeral.  Anything to get a little press, I guess.

Which role in a Broadway revival would you most like to play?  Some of Broadway's favorite actors give their answers.

35 things most New Yorkers do.

A theatre and circus workshop for LGBT youth in England.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Roundup - Boys Will Be Boys, Cover Boy and Three Lizas

The Language of Love
Photo by Australian Theatre
for Young People
Boys Will Be Boys extends at NYMF.

The Language of Love, a short film about a school boy coming to grips with his love for his best friend, gets over 135,000 views on YouTube.  Film was produced by the Australian Theatre for Young People.

Review of Mirrorball, a play set in the '80s at the onset of the AIDS crisis, at the Latitude Festival in London.

Jacob's Pillow presents Cover Boy, a dance piece based on the closeted gay experience, as part of their LGBT Weekend OUT.

Forever Tango returns to Broadway with dancers from "Dancing With the Stars" Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

Chicago's About Face Theatre bring We Three Lizas to Joe's Pub.

"Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown" To Have One-Night-Only Performance at Fresh Fruit Festival

Tonight as part of the Fresh Fruit Festival, there will be a one-night-only performance of Joe Hutcheson's award-winning solo show, "Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown."

In this fresh and hilarious show, a Civil War era debutante, after choking on a pork rib, finds herself sharing the body of a gay Manhattanite on his way to a birthday vacation in Provincetown.

Hutcheson is a marvelous performer (plus, he's not hard to look at), so consider this a must-see show in a festival full of high-quality productions.

"Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown" will be performed Monday, July 15th at 7 PM at The Wild Project (195 E. 3rd Street).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Roundup - Southern Baptist Sissies, Jonathan Groff and "Pack Up the Moon"

Full houses at Nashville production of Del Shores' Southern Baptist Sissies.

Jonathan Groff talks about The Normal Heart and his new HBO series.

Play about gay fatherhood, Pack Up the Moon, to premiere at Brimmer Street Theatre Company in LA.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Roundup - Bigots and boys

Lloyd Daniels
"And after you’ve been staring at a whole bunch of testicles for two hours they start to look really, really weird."  Review of Up4aMeet in London, and an interview with Lloyd Daniels, the former X-Factor contestant, who stars in it.

LGBT history tour of Los Angeles includes a stop at the award-winning Celebration Theatre.

Buffalo United Artists features 10 LGBT short plays.

Same Sex Different Gays returns to ph Comedy Theatre in Chicago.

Are these the top ten stage musicals?

Bill O'Reilly and Jesse Watters mock participants of Coney Island Mermaid Parade.  No one is particularly surprised.

High school production of The Laramie Project cancelled by principal.

Tickets Still Available for Matthew Morrison at 54 Below

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Roundup - Chita, Jackée, and Julie

Rainbow Plays - Photo by Ken Stanek
Rainbow Plays at Fells Point Corner Theatre - a tapestry of short plays with gay and lesbian themes.

La Cage Aux Folles in El Cerrito, CA.

Alan Poindexter, fixture in Charlotte, NC theatre scene, passes away.

Edward Albee wins 2013 Chicago Tribune Literary Prize.

Billy Crystal helps out his hometown.

Off-Broadway for beginners.

Julie Halston to perform at Birdland August 12th and 19th.

Jackée Harry to will join cast of NEWSical The Musical.

I kind of wish I could see this.  Any musical with a song called "Gay Chorus Guys" piques my interest.

NPH joins American Theatre Wing's Advisory Committee.

Chita Rivera to celebrate her 80th birthday with a show.

The real gay Spider-Man.

Brian C. Petti's "The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein" Opens Tomorrow at the Fresh Fruit Festival

The Fresh Fruit Festival presents Brian C. Petti's The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein, a gay relationship play for the new millennium, at the The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street on the Lower East Side (bet. Aves. A & B, F train to Second Ave.) A former male prostitute tries to guide a troubled young streetwalker in this comedy/drama about trust, honesty, and second chances.

Show times are: Friday, July 12th at 9pm, Saturday, July 13th at 4:30pm, Sunday, July 14th at 7:30pm.

Tickets may be purchased for $18.00 online at

Runtime approx. 80 minutes.

Further information available at

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Roundup - Relative Merits, So You Think You Can Dance, Three Reasons a Theatre Degree is Important

Relative Merits
Photo by Kurt Sneddon
Review of an Sydney production of Barry Lowe's Relative Merits, a play about the outing of a high-profile footballer.

Hayley Atwell, Harry Hadden-Paton, Al Weaver and Mathew Horne are to star in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride at Trafalgar Studios in London.

Signature Idol - Let your inner diva out with at the Signature Theatre Open House in Arlington.  You have until July 24th to prepare a YouTube video of your best show tune and send the link to

So You Think You Can Dance's Smash moment.

Little known facts about Pippin's Matthew James Thomas.

Three reasons a theatre degree is important.

Photos from the National Medal of Arts ceremony.

Theatre critic Peter Filichia on Leonard Lopate Show tomorrow to talk about his new book, "Strippers, Showgirls and Sharks: Best Musicals."

Great HuffPo article by playwright and actor Joe Hutcheson.

Kings of Dance (h/t Dancers Over 40).

And if you've never heard it before (and how could you have missed it?), "There's No Business Like Show Business" from Ethel Merman's disco album.

And if you like your musicians a little sexier, here's Well Strung's first music video.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Roundup - Encores!, National Medal of Arts, and a Ballet Bad Boy

City Center's Encores! series to tackle Off-Broadway musicals.

Anthony J. Wilkinson's My Big Gay Italian Wedding and its sequel, My Big Gay Italian Funeral both extended through the end of the year.

Dawn Wells, Mary Ann of "Gilligan's Island," joins San Jose Rep's Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

Jason Ralph
Jason Ralph, Boy in Peter and the Starcatcher, on being shy.

William M. Hoffaman's As Is to be revived in London.

Bare returns to London.

New play about Tchaikovsky opening this fall.  Doesn't shy away from addressing his homosexuality.

Ballet student kicked out for doing porn.

29 signs you have a theatre degree.

President Obama to award 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medals.  Award winners include Renee Fleming, Tony Kushner, Elaine May, and Anna Deavere Smith.

Hot String Quartet "Well Strung" Return to Provincetown

Well-Strung: the Singing String Quartet will return to Provincetown’s Art House theater this season. Since the group’s 3-month run at the venue last summer, they’ve been on a roll - with two recent hit New York productions Off-Broadway and their first album released this spring. Well-Strung will debut an all-new show for the summer, running from June 30 – Sept. 1. It is directed again by Donna Drake, and will feature new arrangements of songs by Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift and Third Eye Blind among others as well as new material written by Jeffery Roberson (aka Varla Jean Merman). For tickets, please visit or call 800-838-3006.

A hit last summer at this theater for their unique ‘mash-up of string quartet and boy band,’ the group features classical musicians who sing, putting their own spin on the music of Mozart, Vivaldi, Ke$ha, Pink, Adele, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and more. They are Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Daniel Shevlin (cello) and Trevor Wadleigh (viola). Music arrangements are by David Levinson with additional arrangements by Daniel Shevlin. The show was directed by Donna Drake, conceived by Christopher Marchant & Mark Cortale and written by Ms. Drake & Mr. Cortale, with additional material contributed by Jeffery Roberson. Immediately after their upcoming P-Town run, the foursome will continue their career hot streak with a debut on London’s West End in September at the Leicester Square Theater.

The group first began performing together in a workshop production of the show directed by Ms. Drake at Ars Nova in NYC on Feb. 28th, 2012. Musical arrangements were by Mr. Levinson with additional arrangements by Mr. Shevlin. That same show sold out at Joe’s Pub in May of 2012 before having an extended run last summer at The Art House in Provincetown, MA and playing Off-Broadway at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater last fall. The group returned to Off-Broadway for the first three weeks of March, 2013, and sold-out the Highline Ballroom for one night in early May. The foursome’s debut album was released on Twist Records on February 28, and was produced by Matt Farber (Founder of LOGO Network) and Mark Cortale.

Edmund Bagnell (First Violinist) played Tobias in the 1st National Tour of "Sweeney Todd" directed by John Doyle. He was most recently seen this fall in Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Medium” playing the role of Toby opposite Varla Jean Merman. Recent regional theater credits include Charlie Brown in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" (Summer Theater of New Canaan), Charlie in "The Big Holiday Broadcast of 1959" written by Joanna Gleason (Fairfield Theater Company), and Oramel Howland in "The Great Unknown" written by Jim Wann ("Pump Boys and Dinettes") and Bill Hauptman ("Big River") as a part of NYMF.

Donna Drake (Director) has appeared in the original Broadway casts of "A Chorus Line," "Sophisticated Ladies," "Woman of the Year," "The Wind in the Willows," "5678-Dance," "It’s so nice to be Civilized" and the original production of "The 1940s Radio Hour." She was an Emmy nominee for "Dear Alex and Annie," and received 4 Drama Desk Nominations, a Mac Award Nomination and a Theatre World Award. She also directed John Tartaglia’s "Imaginocean," which ran Off Broadway at New World Stages.

David Levinson (Arrangements) collaborated with Stacey Weingarten and Donna Drake on "Les Enfants de Paris" (world premiere NYMF 2011). David is also currently working on music and lyrics for "Boys Lost," "The Elliot's," and "Who Is Prester John?" which are in development.

Chris Marchant (Second Violinist) grew up singing and playing violin, but was not involved with theater until the end of his studies at Malone University in Canton, OH. Since then, he has been involved in numerous productions utilizing his multi-talents as a vocalist, actor, and musician. Career highlights include Tobias ("Sweeney Todd," National Tour), violinist ("Spring Awakening" National Tour), Dennis ("Sanders Family Christmas"), and "Naked Boys Singing."

Daniel Shevlin (Cellist/Arrangements) appeared off-Broadway in "The Sandbox" written and directed by Edward Albee, toured the U.S. and Asia in productions of "Rent" and "Cabaret" (Studio 54 version), and has worked regionally as both an actor and cellist in many theaters including the Arvada Center (CO), The Maltz-Jupiter Theatre (FL), Riverside Theatre (FL), Mason Street Warehouse (MI).

Trevor Wadleigh (Violist) is from Seattle and currently a member of The String Collective of New York. He has taught viola at the University of Puget Sound Community Music Community and is also a co-founder of the Puget Sound Animal Rescue.

Mark Cortale is the Producing Artistic Director of The Art House. In his inaugural season in 2011, he founded the Broadway @ The Art House series with Seth Rudetsky, which this summer of 2013 will present Broadway superstars Patti LuPone, Chita Rivera, Sutton Foster, Audra McDonald, Megan Hilty (of TV’s “Smash”), Megan Mullally (of TV’s “Will & Grace”), Christine Ebersole, Joanna Gleason, Sam Harris and Marilyn Maye in addition to other national-level music and comedy programming. He is currently producing Seth Rudetsky’s new reality series and other Broadway-themed entertainment that can be seen at He also co-wrote and produced Well-Strung’s runs this past winter and fall at New York’s Marjorie S. Deane Theater. Mark produced the feature film "Varla Jean and the Mushroomheads," which played the 2012 festival circuit with a screening at Frameline in San Francisco. Mark also premiered the Broadway @ series this season in New Orleans, in Australia with Megan Mullally, on London’s West End this month with Patti LuPone at Leister Square Theater, and will debut as well in Santa Monica, CA in fall of 2013.

Well-Strung is sponsored by the Anchor Inn Beach House, Ptown Bikes, Mussel Beach and

The Art House is wheelchair accessible. 

Varla Jean Merman to premiere new show in Provincetown

Photo courtesy of The Art House
Varla Jean Merman (aka Jeffery Roberson) has been the acknowledged entertainment Queen of P-town for the past decade. Each summer brings the anticipated premiere of her latest, original and irreverent music-comedy show – a summer-long ‘hot ticket’ every year. After a typically busy year starring to critical acclaim as the title roles in the original musical comedy farces Mildred Fierce in Boston and Scrooge in Rouge in New Orleans, as well as in Menotti’s opera The Medium in New York, Varla returns to P-Town to premiere "Twice Upon A Mattress…Will My Prince Ever Come?" at The Art House from July 1 – August 31, with MRF at the piano. For tickets please visit

In the new show, the artist explains, “Varla gives the mother of all gooses to everyone's favorite fairy tails. After years of kissing frogs, toads and other slimy creatures, Varla is tired of trying to make her prince come. Should she toss it all aside and embrace her inner Evil Queen? With Grimm stories, a castle's worth of couture and a libido that could wear out seven dwarves, this Ambien-addled Sleeping Beauty is wide awake and ready to give everyone a happy ending!”

2010 Elliot Norton Award Winner, Roberson’s Varla Jean Merman has been featured on television as a guest on TV’s Ugly Betty and on Bravo’s Project Runway Season 5 as the winning model for the show’s drag challenge. Other TV credits include his network television debut on All My Children in the recurring role of lady of the evening Rosemary Chicken, HBO’s Dragtime, E!’s Fashion Emergency, E! Goes to Cannes, MTV’s True Life: Mardi Gras, Francesca Page with Rossy DePalma, and has most recently appeared as Varla Jean on Logo starring in shorts for “Drag History Month.” He shared the Outfest Film Festival “Best Actor” Award and the Aspen HBO Film Festival “Best Actress” Award with his costars Jack Poltnick and Clinton Leupp for his featured performance in the cult classic film Girls Will Be Girls (Sundance 2003) directed by Richard Day. This past January he filmed the sequel entitled Girls Will Be Girls 2012. When Varla (aka Jeffery Roberson) starred opposite Leslie Jordan spring of 2012 at the Little Shubert Theatre, the New York Times wrote “If Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman had stood in front of the right pair of funhouse mirrors, they might have resembled Ms. Merman and Mr. Jordan in stature as well as comedic talent.” He also played the role of Mary Sunshine in the revival of Chicago on Broadway and appeared at the Long Wharf Theatre in Hartford Stage’s production of The Mystery of Irma Vep directed by Michael Wilson performing the roles originally made famous by Charles Ludlam.

Jeffery as Varla Jean has filled concert halls and cabarets across the world including the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Public Theater, London’s Soho Theatre, LA’s Renberg Theatre, and San Francisco’s Victoria Theatre. He was the opening act of Vienna’s LifeBall, the largest fundraiser for AIDS research in Europe, where he shared the stage with Sharon Stone and Catherine Deneuve. His many Fraktured Classiks productions in New York include The Mailman Always Comes Twice, Screen Door and CAGED! with Lily Tomlin, Joan Rivers and Isabella Rossellini, Lypsinka is Harriet Craig, The Miracle Worker (with Charles Busch) and Varla Jean Merman is The Bad Seedling. Recent engagements also include the title role in Auntie Mame, Scrooge in Rouge, Ricky Graham’s production of Irma Vep at Southern Rep/Le Chat Noir, his recent solo show Varla Jean’s The Loose Chanteuse featuring Tom Judson, which ran in Provincetown, LA, New York and New Orleans, and last summer’s Topping Myself, which sold out its summer run.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Roundup - Goodbye "Silence!," Champion and auditions in Richmond, VA

More about Champion, the opera about gay boxer Emile Griffith.

An inside look at TKTS.

Silence! The Musical ends its Off-Broadway run.

Auditions for the Richmond Triangle Players and Henley Street Theatre in Richmond, VA.  They're auditioning for The Importance of Being Earnest and The Taming of the Shrew.

Surprise proposal in Vegas.

Julee Antonellis and Petey Gibson named to AfterEllen's 50 Hot Women in Comedy list.

Bitches.  I have no idea what it's about but I love this postcard.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Naked Boys Improvising, Saturday Nights Through the Summer

Hot Summer Nights: Naked Boys Improvising
The Improvisation News Team Presents:

"You'll Laugh Your Pants Off"

Improvisational Theater like you've never seen before...
5 Improv Forms, 1 Night

You must be 18 or older to attend this show due to partial nudity, please bring ID.

Naked Boys Improvising
Disarmingly charming and talented, allow this all male comedy tour de force to bare all. Temperatures will rise, clothing will come off, and funny bones will be tickled.

Build An Angel
You loved "Charlie's Angels", but have you met Charlize's Angels? Of course you haven't, because you're going to help us create them. Watch the Angels as they go on a nail biting mission of YOUR choosing. Warning - there may be slow mo hair tossing, so sit in the front row at your own risk.

Superhero Showdown
With the help of our audiences we'll create an original superhero and see his/her birth, life and death unfold before our very eyes on stage.

Commedia dell'Arte will never be the same again as we explore the life at times of improv guru Del Close, using this ancient "high art" form.

Twitter Black Outs
Short scenes inspired by suggestions from our Twitter Followers. Got an idea for a scenario or scene inspired by the Hot Summer Nights? Contact us @ImprovNewsTeam. You just might win two tickets to our show.

Cast: Caitlin Venedam, Elena Tarsitani, Paulina Singer, Liz Parish, Sriya Sarkar, Laura High, Michael Sause, Johnny Harkins, Jared Wilder, Sasha Burgos-Conde, ScottyWatson, Mary Hynes, Irene Carroll, Alex Decaneas, Izzy Wolfson, Israel Savage, Michael Coyne, Mark Hudson

Sponsored By:, Produced By: Israel Savage, Directed By: Scotty Watson

Scotty Watson is an alumnus of The Second City where he performed for many years and has appeared in various other theater, film and TV productions,  including Cirque du Soleil's Mystere and regular appearances on Late Night with David Letterman. He was recently nominated as one of the 10 best improv teachers in America. His favorite food group is pie.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Roundup - Cyndi, Rosie, Hustling and more

Barry Manilow to play NJPAC in August.

But first, Cyndi Lauper will be there on the She's So Unusual Tour.

The Bolshoi's star ballerina, Svetlana Zakharova, has refused to take part in a production of Alexander Pushkin's novel "Eugene Onegin" in a dispute over her leading role.

[title of show] celebrates the 5th anniversary of the Broadway opening.

Matthew Silva wants to save the New York State Pavilion in Flushing, Queens. It looks like it would make an amazing performance venue.

Time Out New York offers great discounts on Cirque du Soleil's Quidam, The Amoralists' latest Rantoul and Die, Marilyn Maye at the Iridium, and Distorted Diznee/Distorted Broadway.

Wallace Shawn and André Gregory discuss their 40-year collaboration.

summer salon with performance artist Karen Finley.

Rosie O'Donnell talks with Alec Baldwin on Here's The Thing.

Conde Nast Traveler offers some TKTS advice.

The Fishko Files has an interesting look at performing in unison.

Ten theatres that burned to the ground.

David Drake to direct Homo: The Musical! at NYMF.

Actress Tilda Swinton displays gay pride flag in Moscow in defiance of anti-gay ordinances.

An opera recently premiered about the life of gay boxer, Emile Griffith.

Gay Bride of Frankenstein gets a messy divorce.

Cherry Grove Community House and Theater added to National Register of Historic Places.

Best Gay Theatre in Chicago for July.

Gay theatrical power list - UK version.

John Barrowman weds partner.

What's gay on the Great White Way.

Emotional cheating and lesbian couples.  Fertile ground for playwrights?

Sebastian La Cause funds third season of his web series Hustling.  But there's still time to donate.

Joey Arias and Raven O
Joey Arias and Raven O bring Wanted Live to The Art House in P'town this summer.

Pro Bar offers gay entertainment alternatives in Atlantic City.

New musical about trans mayor Stu Rasmussen.

Harvey Milk 2013 premieres in San Francisco.  Theatre and opera writer Sarah Roberts shares her observations.

Shakespeare's filthiest jokes.

Provincetown's Peregrine Theatre Ensemble to present Provincetown Musicals Through the Decades on July 13th.

"I’ve seen miles of man-pole in my years as a critic."  David Cote reviews The Banana Monologues for TONY.  It may not be a gay play, but it's still a play about peen.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Interview - Matt Knife of "Homo Erectus"

Photos by Christopher Gagliardi

After attending the first anniversary performance of Matt Knife's monthly boylesque show, Homo Erectus, at the Stonewall Inn, I sat down with Matt to talk about the show, his burlesque experiences, and what's coming up for Homo Erectus in year two.

First of all, congratulations on hitting your one-year anniversary of Homo Erectus.  I had a great time at the anniversary show.  I liked the fact that you brought back The World Famous *BOB* to emcee the event, as she did during your first show.  How did you two meet?

I met *BOB* at the first annual Boylesque Festival last year she was hosting.  *BOB* used to produce a show exclusively for new performers, so asking her was a natural choice.  She is so funny, professional and supportive. So we had to bring her back!  I just feel that the show needs her energy, love and humor.

When you started Homo Erectus a year ago, did you ever think it would still be going strong?

Honestly I was not sure what would happen.  I just wanted to create a regular space for boylesque to grow.  I started this out as an experiment and entered into it with a open heart and mind.  I have been overwhelmed by the support from the burlesque and LGBTQ community.  So I think that both communities needed a show like this.  

What inspired you to start a monthly boylesque series?

I wanted to expand my own craft of costumes, performance art and fine art.  I also wanted to support boylesque performers who maybe were not getting booked as often as they should.  Homo Erectus is a great space for us to experiment, grow and shine.

Over the past year you've worked with some amazing talent - dancers, musicians, magicians, drag queens, performance artists.  What would you say were some of the highlights?

Performing for Stephin Merritt was really surreal.  I have been a huge fan of his music for years and I had wanted to realise his music theatrically for just as long.  That month's show was a tribute to his music, and all the performers were fans, so it was a dream come true for us all.

The Halloween show was a jewel in my mind.  I love Halloween, so naturally combining burlesque and that holiday makes me happy.  That was the first big show.

"My Furry Valentine" was another fave because I love furry men and I wanted to honor them with their own show.  The bear community has been very supportive of Homo Erectus and I love that.  We will be doing that again soon.

It has been great developing a relationship with Fein and Dandee, they have played the show several times.  Dandy Darkly and Scary Ben have also been great collaborators.  Broadway Brassy was a real fun time.  Will Clark and I have been working on several projects together since he hosted.  We will be co-hosting the August 15th Homo Erectus.

Oh course Tigger's hosting and act all went over very well.  He will be joining us again this fall.

One of the things I've enjoyed is seeing your less experienced performers develop over the year. What is the best part about nurturing new performers?

Honestly, I am still a new performer.  I love helping people, challenging them to be better artists.  So anything I can do for them I will.
It's been my observation that the burlesque community is remarkably supportive and sharing. I've seen a number of performers and producers from other shows at Homo Erectus performances, usually right up front.  Who have been your mentors from the burlesque community?

Yes, the community is very sharing and supportive.  But I do feel that we are real with each other too.  Most of us are aware that it is nice to hear you did well, but it is also great to hear things to improve on.  

I have been doing costume design and wardrobe work for thirteen years, so I am new to the performance element of theatre.  I was lucky to have a great teacher in Go-Go Harder and his Boylesque 101 class.

Before I took his class I was frustrated with NYC, the gay community, the costuming world and my own perspective on all of the above.  My last year of grad school had wreaked my self-esteem.  I was really starting to question my value as a human.  I met Teddy Turnaround who told me about Harder's class.  Finding burlesque was the best thing that could have happened to me.  I found a my tribe of freaks.

Who are my mentors?  Just to warn you we have entered the "Name Dropping Portion" of the interview, so excuse me while I talk some people up.  Go-Go Harder was my first mentor.  Lucky Charming and Teddy Turnaround are my support unit alpha.  Tigger is the Godfather, and big support.  *BOB* has been an inspiration to all of us.  Lewd Alfred Douglas has been a great support with "Uncle Monty's Mollyhouse".

Joe the Shark and Cherry Pitz of Hotsy Totsy Burlesque have been invaluable.  They have brought me in two shows to brianstorm, co write and star in two shows.  All things I had wanted to do, but didn't think I could.

Jonny Porkpie's Pinchbottom's Pretencion really raised the bar to me as far as burlesque plays are concerned.  I was truly inspired.  We are working together a lot in the next few months.

I know you're tied into the greater burlesque community outside New York as well.  Are there any performers, from anywhere around the world, that you would particularly love to work with?

I have been really lucky to work with several men from all over.  I met Jacques Patriaque at the 2nd Annual Boylesque Festival.  He is from Vienna, and we hit it off.  I am hoping to go to Europe and perform with him.  I also think him plus Lewd Alfred and I would make a great burlesque period trio act.

Boylesque TO of Toronto are a big support, they were act two of my April show.  We always love when they come to visit.

I got to meet Waxie Moon at the festival.  He was a big inspiration to me when I started.  Waxie is not afraid to push gender and mannerisms.  I am hoping to meet him again and would love to have him at Homo Erectus.

Now to the really good stuff.  What's next for Homo Erectus?  What do you have coming up the rest of the year?

I am very excited.  July 11th is our Patriotic/Satire show.  August 15th is a burlesque play called "Timewarp" It will be a journey through the 20th century.  Sort of a Bill and Ted meets Doctor Who situation.

I am hoping 2014 some months with have two shows instead of one.  We are trying that out in September.  One show is "Back to School" hosted by Jo Weldon and will feature a boylesque group number.  The other is a Geek's Out show hosted by Iris Explosion featuring the hottest performers of NYC nerdlesque.

October is the HUGE HALLOWEEN SHOW!!!  November is "The Bizarre and Surreal."  December is still a mystery.  

There will be a lot more where that came from!!!!

The next Homo Erectus show will be July 11th at the Stonewall Inn.