Labor Day is scarcely past. But the fall theater season is already well underway. With an exciting amalgam of both new and familiar musicals and plays with LGBT themes performed and staged by out theater professionals, this autumn promises to be an especially engaging time for LGBT theatergoers. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there now and what’s soon to come.
Olney Theatre Center is premiering “Colossal” at its Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab through Sept. 28. Penned by Andrew Hinderaker and directed by Will Davis who is transgender, this hard-hitting drama told in flashback by Mike, a former college football player who became paralyzed from the waist down after taking a hit for his teammate (and then-lover) during a game. Mike (played by Michael Patrick Thornton who uses a wheelchair on and offstage) now relives the accident again and again with the aid of a live football team onstage. Structured like a game, “Colossal is performed in four quarters with a pre-show training session and half-time show.
Canadian/director Morris Panych’s new comedy “The Shoplifters” is currently premiering at Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theatre. The cast features Broadway’s Jayne Houdyshell as a career shoplifter. Panych’s husband, Ken MacDonald, designed the costumes and set.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company kicks off the season with David Adjmi’s “Marie Antoinette” (Sept. 15-Oct. 12). The playwright’s revisionist comedy paints the young queen as contemporary rich party girl. The cast features Woolly company members Kimberly Gilbert (as the ill-fated royal) and out actor Sarah Marshall who plays Marie’s friend, an all-knowing sheep.
The national tour of Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita” (Sept. 30-Oct. 19) is heading to the Kennedy Center Opera House. The Tony-winning musical thrillingly recounts Eva Perón’s climb from obscure poverty to money and international fame as Argentina’s very blonde first lady. This production features Broadway’s beautiful Caroline Bowman as the controversial legend who died at just 33.
On Oct. 5, Positive Scribe Productions presents Laurinda D. Brown’s “Sometimes It Snows in Atlanta” at the Anacostia Playhouse. In this autobiographically inspired piece, Brown, who has grappled with depression, explores mental health issues in both the African-American and LGBT communities.
At Signature Theatre in Arlington, out artistic director Eric Schaeffer is staging the musical “Elmer Gantry” (Oct. 7-Nov. 9), based on Sinclair Lewis’ novel about a failed salesman who makes a mint selling salvation. Broadway’s Charlie Pollock plays the titular, Bible-thumping con artist. The cast features local vocal powerhouse Nova Y. Payton as speakeasy singer Mary Washington and out actor Bobby Smith as Gantry’s pal Frank Shallard, a mainstream preacher who is losing faith.
Also at Signature is Lisa Eason’s “Sex with Strangers” (Oct. 14-Dec. 7), a timely exploration of what happens when private lives become public domain. Out actor Holly Twyford is slated to play Olivia, an underemployed 39-year old writer who hooks up with a younger more successful stranger after a blizzard leaves them trapped in a secluded cabin. When the pair’s experience goes online what should have been a quick tryst morphs into something more. Aaron Posner directs.
For one night (Oct. 20), Rainbow Theatre Project, a company dedicated to reflecting the LGBT experience, will feature staged readings of Mary Steelsmith’s “The Betty and Veronica Plays” and David Csontos’ “My Night with Rock Hudson.”
At Studio Theatre, out director Serge Seiden is staging Joshua Harmon’s “Bad Jews” (Nov. 5-Dec. 21), a biting comedy about three very different cousins battling over a family heirloom on the night of their Holocaust survivor grandfather’s funeral.
Theatre J is presenting gay playwright Tony Kushner’s “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scripture” (Nov. 13-Dec. 21) staged by out director John Vreeke. The plot centers on retired longshoreman Gus Marcantonio as he gathers his three adult children (of which two are in same-sex relationships) and their partners to let them know he’s selling the Brooklyn brownstone and ending his life. Lots of meaningful talk ensues.
For a sweet pre-holiday serving of nostalgia try “Donny & Marie: Christmas at the National” (Dec. 2-7; nationaldc.org). In the tradition of the Osmond family holiday specials of yesteryear, the show features splashy numbers, Christmas songs and hits from the toothy cute siblings’ heyday.
The holiday theme continues with Round House Theatre’s area premiere of a new musical, “The Nutcracker” (Nov. 26-Dec. 28) staged by out director Joe Calarco. The cast includes talented out actor Will Gartshore, who said he couldn’t turn down the chance to play a French sock monkey.
Gartshore is also doing a mostly musical theater cabaret with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington called “Love Stinks!” It happens on the afternoon of the Nov. 8 at Hamilton Live.
Publick Playhouse (5445 Landover Road, Cheverly, Md.) has several family-friendly shows planned for fall including “Curious George” (Sept. 25), “The Wright Stuff: First in Flight” (Oct. 8), “The Mixed-Up Fairy Tale” (Oct. 30) and more. Visit arts.pgparks.com for details.
2014 Fall ArtsAndrew Lloyd WebberArena StageBad JewsColossalDonny & MarieElmer GantryEvitaGay Men's Chorus of WashingtonJoshua HarmonKennedy CenterLaurinda D. Brown'sMarie AntoinetteMary SteelsmithOlney Theatre CenterRainbow Theatre ProjectSignature TheatreSometimes it Snows in AtlantaStudio TheatreThe Inteliigent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the ScriptureThe ShopliftersTheatre JTim RiceTony KushnerWill DavisWoolly Mammoth Theatre Company