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Out actor on his ‘Real O’Neals’ experience

Noah builds comedic arc on Savage-based sitcom

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THE REAL O'NEALS - ABC's "The Real O'Neals" stars Noah Galvin as Kenny. (ABC/Bob D'Amico)

THE REAL O’NEALS – ABC’s “The Real O’Neals” stars Noah Galvin as Kenny. (ABC/Bob D’Amico)

Noah Galvin might be new on your television screen, but he’s no stranger to the entertainment business. Starting out as a child stage actor in New York, Galvin worked his way from Broadway to circus to eventually landing the lead role as Kenny on “The Real O’Neals.”

Kenny, loosely based on Dan Savage’s teen years, comes out to his conservative Catholic family in Chicago. After his big admission, he must learn how to navigate his sexuality and high school at the same time. The show, which airs Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. on ABC, shows his family is far from perfect themselves. His parents (Martha Plimpton and Jay Ferguson) are getting divorced, his older jock brother (Matt Shively) is anorexic and his little sister (Bebe Wood) has a case of sticky fingers while starting to question her own faith. A Blade interview with the show’s producer is here.

Galvin says although he came out around high school like Kenny does, their experiences were hardly the same. The out actor spoke with the Blade about how shaving the side of his head was an integral part of his coming out and how Savage became a mentor for him in work and his personal life.

WASHINGTON BLADE: Kenny’s high school experience is kind of chaotic after he comes out. Was your high school experience similar to Kenny’s? When did you come out?

NOAH GALVIN: I came out when I was 14. I had been working for Cirque du Soleil the year before and had been homeschooling, and then decided I didn’t want to homeschool any more because it was so isolating. So I held myself back a year and went to this regular public school in Westchester, N.Y., that I had friends at. Before I went back to school I had my friends shave the side of my head and pierce my right ear in the bathroom so I could really just walk into the school a completely new, out, gay person. The chaos came from people around me, people who had to deal with this. Kenny’s struggles are different. They’re sort of internal. They’re sort of self-imposed. He’s creating this problem himself, and no one really has an issue with it at school. It’s just him freaking out about it and not wanting to face these things.

BLADE: What’s been the biggest challenge bringing Kenny to life?

GALVIN: I don’t know if I would call this a challenge, but Kenny’s very comfortable with himself. It was a cool thing to portray a different coming out experience.

BLADE: In the episode “The Real Spring Fever,” Kenny experiments with online dating. Do you have any online dating horror stories?

GALVIN: I have a couple dating apps. I have Tinder and what not. I don’t use them per se, but I have them. No horror stories to date, thank God. I’ll let you know when I do though.

BLADE: What’s been your favorite episode to film?

GALVIN: Honestly, I don’t know if I have one. I have favorite moments from all of them. They’re all so close to my heart. I really love this show and I think it’s really great, funny and important. We’ve gotten to work with awesome guest stars. Frances Conroy of “Six Feet Under” fame plays our grandmother, and “Six Feet Under” has been my favorite show forever. So getting to work with her is incredible. Tim Gunn is on an episode and he is just one of the most wonderful men in the world just so sweet, smart and supportive.

BLADE: What’s the atmosphere like on set?

GALVIN: Joyous. We have an amazing time together. Our cast gets along so freakishly well. None of us chemistry tested together and for some reason we just like magically melded together so perfectly. Something that Martha (Plimpton) and Jay (Ferguson) realized like two-thirds of the way into the process, maybe even later, was that we were all child actors. So I think that sort of lent itself to us getting to know each other and liking each other. We all have a similar level of professionalism. We’re all about do the work, leave it at work and then go on with our lives. On set it’s hard; you’re doing 14- and 16-hour days, and it’s a comedy so you’ve got to keep your energy up the whole time. Jay is a big proponent of game playing, so on set it’s mostly just us being told to quiet down because we’re yelling and screaming and playing Catch Phrase.

BLADE: You’re playing a young Dan Savage on the show. Did you get to meet him and what was your impression of him?

GALVIN: Dan is a good friend. We initially met during the filming of the pilot. At first he was sort of distancing himself from me and I didn’t know why. Eventually I sat down with him and was like, “What’s up, man?” And it came out that he thought I was like 15 years old. Upon realizing I was 21, he was like, “Oh thank god” and was able to really get into it with me, and talk about things which was really nice. He’s a very busy man so he wasn’t there for a lot of the filming of the whole series. He’s a non-creative executive producer, so he doesn’t write anything for the show. I was in touch with him and any time I had a question or a problem I would turn to him. Both professionally and unprofessionally he was a source of advice for me.

BLADE: Are you still in school or are you acting full time?

GALVIN: I am acting full time. The college application process was a big point of contention in my family. I’m an actor and I knew I was going to be an actor. I had been working professionally since I was 10. It was kind of a struggle for me to finish school just because I was working. My senior year of high school it came down to it, and I finally decided I wasn’t going to apply to colleges or conservatories. I was just going to start working and see what happens. And this (“The Real O’Neals”) came along months after which was great.

BLADE: Are you concerned about being typecast as the “gay guy” for future roles because of this show?

GALVIN: Definitely. It’s not a fear, but it’s something that’s on my mind and something I think about. It’s something I’ll have to learn how to navigate. I don’t have any interest in being a spokesperson or poster boy for any movement. But I would absolutely love to be an advocate and do advocacy work. But in that, I really just want to be able to do everything. I want to keep working. I want variety in my career. I’m hoping that we’re in a time where I’m not the Rupert Everett of our generation. I’m hoping that casting directors are open minded enough to see that I can do a lot of things.

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Photos

PHOTOS: DCGFFL 25th Anniversary Party

Gay flag football league marks milestone at Penn Social

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The D.C. Gay Flag Football league held a party celebrating their 25th season at Penn Social on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League (DCGFFL) held a 25th season anniversary party at Penn Social on Saturday, Sept. 23. Proceeds from the event benefited the LGBTQ youth services organization SMYAL as well as the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Books

New book goes behind the scenes of ‘A League of Their Own’

‘No Crying in Baseball’ offers tears, laughs, and more

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(Book cover image courtesy of Hachette Books)

‘No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of ‘A League of Their Own’
By Erin Carlson
c.2023, Hachette Books
$29/320 pages

You don’t usually think of Madonna as complaining of being “dirty all day” from playing baseball. But that’s what the legendary diva did during the shooting of “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 movie, beloved by queers.

“No Crying in Baseball,” the fascinating story behind “A League of Their Own,” has arrived in time for the World Series. Nothing could be more welcome after Amazon has cancelled season 2 of its reboot (with the same name) of this classic film.

In this era, people don’t agree on much. Yet, “A League of Their Own” is loved by everyone from eight-year-old kids to 80-year-old grandparents.

The movie has strikes, home runs and outs for sports fans; period ambience for history buffs; and tears, laughs and a washed-up, drunk, but lovable coach for dramady fans.

The same is true for “No Crying in Baseball.” This “making of” story will appeal to history, sports and Hollywood aficionados. Like “All About Eve” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “A League of Their Own” is Holy queer Writ.

Carlson, a culture and entertainment journalist who lives in San Francisco, is skilled at distilling Hollywood history into an informative, compelling narrative. As with her previous books, “I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy” and “Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep,” “No Crying in Baseball,” isn’t too “educational.” It’s filled with gossip to enliven coffee dates and cocktail parties.

“A League of Their Own” is based on the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). From 1943 to 1954, more than 600 women played in the league in the Midwest. The league’s players were all white because the racism of the time prohibited Black women from playing. In the film, the characters are fictional. But the team the main characters play for – the Rockford Peaches – was real.

While many male Major and Minor League Baseball players were fighting in World War II, chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley, who owned the Chicago Cubs, founded the league. He started the AAGPBL, “To keep spectators in the bleachers,” Carlson reports, “and a storied American sport–more important: his business afloat.” 

In 1943, the Office of War Information warned that the baseball season could be “scrapped” “due to a lack of men,” Carlson adds.

“A League of Their Own” was an ensemble of women’s performances (including Rosie O’Donnell as Doris, Megan Cavanagh as Marla, Madonna as Mae, Lori Petty as Kit and Geena Davis as Dottie) that would become legendary.

Girls and women  still dress up as Rockford Peaches on Halloween.

Tom Hanks’s indelible portrayal of coach Jimmy Dugan, Gary Marshall’s depiction of (fictional) league owner Walter Harvey and Jon Lovitz’s portrayal of Ernie have also become part of film history.

Filming “A League of Their Own,” Carlson vividly makes clear, was a gargantuan effort.  There were “actresses who can’t play baseball” and “baseball players who can’t act,” Penny Marshall said.

The stadium in Evansville, Ind., was rebuilt to look like it was in the 1940s “when the players and extras were in costume,” Carlson writes, “it was easy to lose track of what year it was.”

“No Crying in Baseball” isn’t written for a queer audience. But, Carlson doesn’t pull any punches. 

Many of the real-life AAGPBL players who O’Donnell met had same-sex partners, O’Donnell told Carlson.

“When Penny, angling for a broad box-office hit chose to ignore the AAGPGL’s queer history,” Carlson writes, “she perpetuated a cycle of silence that muzzled athletes and actresses alike from coming out on the wider stage.”

“It was, as they say, a different time,” she adds.

Fortunately, Carlson’s book isn’t preachy. Marshall nicknames O’Donnell and Madonna (who become buddies) “Ro” and “Mo.” Kodak is so grateful for the one million feet of film that Marshall shot that it brings in a high school marching band. Along with a lobster lunch. One day, an assistant director “streaked the set to lighten the mood,” Carlson writes.

“No Crying in Baseball,” is slow-going at first. Marshall, who died in 2018, became famous as Laverne in “Laverne & Shirley.” It’s interesting to read about her. But Carlson devotes so much time to Marshall’s bio that you wonder when she’ll get to “A League of Their Own.”

Thankfully, after a couple of innings, the intriguing story of one of the best movies ever is told.

You’ll turn the pages of “No Crying in Baseball” even if you don’t know a center fielder from a short stop.

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Theater

Rupert Murdoch’s powers on full display in ‘Ink’

Media baron helped pave the way for Brexit, Prime Minister Thatcher

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Cody Nickell (Larry Lamb) and Andrew Rein (Rupert Murdoch) in ‘Ink’ at Round House Theatre. (Photo by Margot Schulman Photography)

‘Ink’
Through Sept. 24
Round House Theatre
4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814
$46-$94
Roundhousetheatre.org

Yes, Rupert Murdoch’s loathsome traits are many, but his skills to succeed are undeniably numerous. 

In the first scenes of John Graham’s West End and Broadway hit drama “Ink,” an exciting year-long detail from the life of a burgeoning media baron, Murdoch’s powers of persuasion are on full display.

It’s 1969 London. Over dinner with editor Larry Lamb, a young Murdoch shares his plan to buy the Sun and rebrand the dying broadsheet, replacing the Daily Mirror as Britain’s best-selling tabloid. What’s more, he wants to do it in just one year with Lamb at the helm. 

Initially reluctant, Lamb becomes seduced by the idea of running a paper, something that’s always eluded him throughout his career, and something Murdoch, the outsider Australian, understands. Murdoch taunts him, “Not you. Not Larry Lamb, the Yorkshire-born son of a blacksmith, not the guy who didn’t get a degree from Oxford or Cambridge, who didn’t get a degree from anywhere. Not you.”

Still, Lamb, played convincingly by Cody Nickell in Round House Theatre’s stellar season-opener, a co-production with Olney Theatre Center, remains unsure. But Murdoch (a delightfully brash Andrew Rein) is undeterred, and seals the deal with a generous salary. 

Superbly staged by director Jason Loweth, “Ink” is riveting. Its exchanges between Lamb and Murdoch are a strikingly intimate glimpse into ambition involving an ostensibly average editor and a striving money man who doesn’t like people.  

Once on board, Lamb is trolling Fleet Street in search of his launch team, played marvelously by some mostly familiar actors. He makes his most important hire — news editor Brian McConnell (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh) — in a steam bath. The remainder of the Sun’s new masthead falls handily into place: Joyce Hopkirk (Kate Eastwood Norris) the women’s page editor whose forward thinking is marred by her casual racism; Zion Jang plays Beverley Goodway, an awkwardly amusing young photographer; persnickety deputy editor Bernard Shrimsley (Michael Glenn) who learns to love ugly things; and an old school sports editor who proves surprisingly versatile, played by Ryan Rillette, Round House’s artistic director. 

At Lamb’s suggestion, the team brainstorms about what interests Sun readers. They decide on celebrities, pets, sports, free stuff, and —rather revolutionarily for the time —TV.  Murdoch is happy to let readers’ taste dictate content and the “Why” of the sacred “five Ws” of journalism is out the window. 

Murdoch is portrayed as a not wholly unlikable misanthrope. He dislikes his editors and pressman alike. He particularly hates unions. His advice to Lamb is not to get too chummy with his subordinates. Regarding the competition, Murdoch doesn’t just want to outperform them, he wants to grind them to dust. 

Loewith leads an inspired design team. Scenic designer Tony Cisek’s imposing, inky grey edifice made from modular walls is ideally suited for Mike Tutaj’s projections of headlines, printed pages, and Rein’s outsized face as Murdoch. Sound designer and composer Matthew M. Nielson ably supplies bar noises and the nonstop, pre-digital newspaper clatter of presses, linotypes, and typewriters.

From a convenient second tiered balcony, the Daily Mirror’s establishment power trio Hugh Cudlipp (Craig Wallace), Chris Lee Howard (Chris Geneback) and Sir Percy (Walter Riddle) overlook all that lies below, discussing new tactics and (mostly failed) strategies to remain on top.   

Increasingly comfortable in the role of ruthless, sleazy editor, Lamb is unstoppable.

Obsessed with overtaking the Daily Mirror’s circulation, he opts for some sketchy reportage surrounding the kidnapping and presumed murder of Muriel McKay, the wife of Murdoch’s deputy Sir Alick (Todd Scofield). The kidnappers mistook Muriel for Murdoch’s then-wife Anna (Sophia Early). Next, in a move beyond the pale, Lamb introduces “Page 3,” a feature spotlighting a topless female model. Awesta Zarif plays Stephanie, a smart young model. She asks Lamb if he would run a semi-nude pic of his similarly aged daughter? His reaction is uncomfortable but undaunted. 

For Murdoch’s purposes, history proves he chose well in Lamb. By year’s end, the Sun is Britain’s most widely read tabloid. Together they give the people what they didn’t know they wanted, proving the pro-Labour Daily Mirror’s hold on the working class is baseless and paving the way for things like Brexit and a Prime Minister Thatcher. 

“Ink” at Round House closes soon. See it if you can.

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