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Paul Gross will reprise role in ‘Tales of the City’ revival

The reboot also adds Bob the Drag Queen, Jen Richards to cast

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Paul Gross (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Paul Gross will return to reprise his role as Brian Hawkins on the Netflix reboot of “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.”

“Tales of the City” was a mini-series that debuted in 1993. It told the story of Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) who moves to 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco from the Midwest. She finds herself learning about issues such as gender identity, homosexuality and HIV/AIDS.

Ellen Page has been cast as Shawna Hawkins, Singleton’s daughter. Brian is the father of Shawna and the ex-husband of Singleton. Gross appeared as Brian in the first “Tales of the City.” The character was played by Whip Hubley in the sequels “More Tales of the City” and “Further Tales of the City.”

The reboot has also added more names to the cast. Transgender actress Daniela Vega will play transgender woman Ysela. Jen Richards will play a younger version of Madrigal, Singleton’s quirky landlady. Olympia Dukakis will return as Madrigal in present day.

Bob the Drag Queen has been cast as Ida Best, the manager of a burlesque club. Other cast members include Michelle Buteau, Ashley Park, Christopher Larkin, Matthew Risch, Michael Park, Dickie Hearts, Benjamin Thys, Samantha Soule and Juan Castano.

Barbara Garrick will also reprise her role as lesbian socialite DeDe Halcyon Day.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Orange is the New Black” writer Lauren Morelli is the showrunner, writer and executive producer of the series. Alan Poul, producer of the miniseries, Linney and Maupin are also on board to executive produce.

The writing team is also entirely LGBT.

“Tales of the City” will debut its 10-episode season on Netflix in 2019.

 

 

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PHOTOS: Safe Space

New LGBTQ+ party held at Black Cat

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A scene from the 'Safe Space' party at the Black Cat on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Safe Space 2: A Safer Space party was held at the Black Cat on Saturday, Dec. 3.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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PHOTOS: Holiday Show

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington perform annual concert at Lincoln Theatre

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A scene from the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's 'Holiday Show.' (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington and the GenOUT Youth Chorus performed “The Holiday Show” at a dress rehearsal on Friday, Dec. 2 at Lincoln Theatre. The Chorus has performances scheduled for Dec. 9 and 11. For tickets and showtimes, visit gmcw.org.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

New Studio Theatre production explores misery of addiction

Slogging through the work of recovery in ‘People, Places & Things’

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Kristen Bush in ‘People, Places & Things.’ (Photo by Margot Schulman)

‘People, Places & Things’
Through Dec. 11
Studio Theatre
1501 14th St., N.W.
$65-$95
Studiotheatre.org

Meet Emma, working actor and addict.  

After a lot of hard partying and an onstage collapse, the relapsing heroine of Duncan Macmillan’s “People, Places & Things” devises a sort of strategy. She’ll do a short stint in rehab and get back to work as soon as possible, sort of breeze in and breeze out. But things don’t quite pan out as planned.  

In Macmillan’s superbly written and aptly named work (the title references a recovery slogan about triggers and relapse), the English playwright takes a lucid and, at turns, funny and mordantly perceptive look into the misery of addiction and the vicissitudes of recovery. At the center of his work is Emma — dishonest, witty, very toxic, but in spite of everything, likeable.  

At Studio Theatre, director David Muse succeeds in leading an inventive design team and strong cast, particularly Kristen Bush as wily Emma, in bringing this not unfamiliar but compellingly told tale to life. 

After a major professional screw up, (a wasted Emma implodes during a performance of Chekhov’s “The Seagull”), she voluntarily checks into a British clinic. At intake she’s still high and in an uncharacteristically honest moment, readily admits to having recently indulged in a panoply of pills, weed, coke, speed, and ibuprofen washed down with gin and a good bottle of Rioja.

Unsold on the 12 steps, she’s resistant. Still the show must go on – loads of therapy (one-on-one and group) and role-playing sessions ensue. The medical professionals, staff, and patients are played effectively by Nathan Whitmer, Lise Bruneau, Tessa Klein, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Emily Erickson, Derek Garza, Lynette R. Freeman, and the excellent David Manis. 

Jeanne Paulsen plays Emma’s helpful doctor and later and more startling, her mother. Jahi Kearse adds an inspiring presence as a fellow addict.

Watching an addict slog through the yeoman work of recovery, and in this case an unenthusiastic patient’s passage from detox to therapy to departure, isn’t anything new; but here, the unfolding journey feels fresh despite or maybe due to the protagonist’s dearth of pink cloud elation. There’s also a real true-to-lifeness about it. 

Studio’s new Victor Shargai Theatre has been configured as alley staging (it’s like a catwalk with banked seating on either side), making for an intimate experience. Debra Booth’s institutional grey set changes fairly seamlessly and entertainingly to different spaces, all interconnected in Emma’s recovery – a stage, an after-hours club evoking both allure and dread, offices, therapy rooms, and bedrooms. 

Lighting by Andrew Cissna and Lindsay Jones’s music contribute to a sometimes-unsettling mood. 

Macmillan wrote “People, Places & Things” with a meaty female role in mind. It premiered at London’s National Theatre in 2015 and moved to New York a couple of years later. The production proved a great success for everyone involved, including Denise Gough who created the role of Emma. Bush is garnering a similar reaction at Studio. 

As the action moves steadily toward an ending, contributing factors regarding Emma’s dysfunction are revealed – cold family, a brother’s death. Some definite headway is made. Still, there’s no denying that over turbulent years, she’s left some very hurt and disappointed colleagues and family in her frenzied drug fueled wake. 

The actor/addict leaves rehab markedly less messy. Reentering the world as a different Emma, she lands at the home of her unsympathetic parents, not the most cushiony place for a sober re-launch. 

Her future is unclear, and like her sobriety, can’t be taken for granted. 

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