No doubt about it, getting gorgeous actors into Bible-based musicals and Shakespearean tragedies definitely ratchets up the "let's go see it" factor. Right now Dallas/Fort Worth stages have a bumper summer crop of beauts, male and female, trodding the boards. It's hard to winnow the list to a mere 10, but here goes. And let us know if we left off any of your faves.
Sydney James Harcourt (above), starring in the title role in Dallas Theater Center's Old Testament pop musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, shows off his amazing dreamboatness in a shirtless costume for more than half the two-hour show. (Director Joel Ferrell's no dummy.) So much better than last summer's production of The Wiz, in which Harcourt starred as Tin Man, clad from head to foot in what looked like a large silver carburetor. The guy's a terrific singer, dancer and actor (he was Simba in Broadway's Lion King), but his abs and pecs are stealing focus on the stage at the Wyly Theatre. The coat of many colors his character wears is pretty but what's underneath it is a masterpiece. (Show runs through August 5.)
Alex Ross plays one of Joseph's jealous brothers in the aforementioned DTC musical, but plenty of local actors envy Ross' classically trained voice (he gets a country-western-style solo in Joseph). That he also resembles an old-fashioned matinee idol - tall, broad-shouldered, baby-faced with smoldering eyes - doesn't hurt. He's had great roles at Lyric Stage, Uptown Players and now DTC, where he also sang and danced in the hot-'n'-sessy Cabaret last season. Just waiting for Ross to dress in less in whatever his next show might be.
Alex Organ gets mad and moist wielding his sword in Shakespeare Dallas' current Coriolanus at the outdoor Samuell-Grand Amphitheater (through July 20). Organ steams it up with handsome co-star Kevin Keeling in a homoerotic scene that has their characters, two former warrior-enemies, reuniting on their old battleground and sharing more than come-hither looks. Organ, classically trained grad of Yale Drama, struts with spectacularly Spartacus-like machismo in his Roman soldier drag. With great performances under his belt at Theatre Three (The Farnsworth Invention) and Second Thought (Red Light Winter), Organ's shown that he's a serious actor with plenty of muscle in or out of heavy armor.
Ryan Manalansan recently played one of the hunky young ballplayers in Uptown Players' production of Take Me Out. He's also a dancer, voiceover artist and a personal trainer who posts scrumptious vegan recipes on his Facebook page. He might also be the only working actor in town who can boast on his resume that he's fluent in Tagalog (an ethnic language of the Philippines). Smart and cute, we like.
Van Quattro was on the TV series Millennium and Picket Fences and played a police detective in Fight Club before moving to Fort Worth about 12 years ago. He stopped acting for a decade but gradually started auditioning again at the urging of his wife, chef Catherine Ruehle. His role as Boo Radley in last season's To Kill a Mockingbird at DTC brought him to the attention of critics and discerning audiences and then he snagged the lead in Theatre Three's boffo production of Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts. In his 50s, Quattro projects that same subdued, sexy quality as Robert Duvall or Tommy Lee Jones. His acting talent is just icing on the donut.
Natalie Young, just featured in our People issue recently as "The Showstopper," came onto the Dallas theater scene with a big bang last summer. The play was Red Light Winter at Second Thought Theatre and in it she banged two guys (played by Alex Organ, see above, and the adorable Drew Wall). The sex scenes required full nudity and Young shed her inhibitions and every stitch of clothing for the role. She was phenomenal, so believable as a French girl that it was a surprise to learn she's from Plano. She got to show off comedy skills a few months later, fully costumed, in Upstart's Melancholy Play. This is a pretty girl with a pretty solid future in the acting biz.
Elizabeth Evans wowed critics and audiences as exhibitionist Frida Kahlo in Ex Voto, Ochre House's sensuous bio-play about the Mexican artist. Even with a hint of moustache, Evans was beautiful as the sensuous creature who painted herself into many of her own pictures. Evans has become something of a constant muse for Ochre House founder-director-playwright-actor Matthew Posey, who's cast her in leading roles in almost all his new plays this season and last, including Bill and Mean. The scripts are almost love letters to this young woman's beauty and talent.
Emily Scott Banks has Elizabeth Taylor eyebrows but the onstage moxie and sexy purr of a young Elizabeth Ashley. As one of the 1960s stewardesses in WaterTower's bedroom romp Boeing-Boeing (a role she also did at Fort Worth's Circle Theatre), Banks worked an Italian accent and a tight-as-wax green uniform to maximum effect. She's played period costume parts in British comedies at Stage West, done serious work in Chekhov at WaterTower and brought sharp timing to modern rom-coms at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas. Directors, take note: Investing in the charm and talent of the comely Ms. Banks pays big dividends.
Lynn Blackburn, seen most recently in Dallas Theater Center's touching drama Next Fall, has the kind of natural beauty that can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on the role. A former regular on TV's Friday Night Lights, Blackburn radiates an old-fashioned Breck Girl wholesomeness. But she's been known to turn on the heat as a vamp in a Noel Coward comedy or look like a Vargas girl trussed into a push-up corset in a period piece. Blackburn recently married DTC acting company member Chamblee Ferguson. Their backyard ceremony featured Mason jar cocktails and home-baked goodies. Don't you just love that?
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Traci Lee is on the verge of breaking into bigger roles following featured chorus parts in Level Ground Arts' Legally Blonde ("you couldn't take your eyes off her," said one patron on opening night) and WaterTower's Little Shop of Horrors (where she and her sister, Janelle Gray, were the backup singers). Daughter of longtime Dallas diva M. Denise Lee (currently starring as "Gary Coleman" in Theatre Too's Avenue Q), Lee graduated from Collin College's theater division and is finishing her undergrad degree at Sam Houston State. A dynamite singer-dancer, Lee is about to bust out of the chorus line and step into the hot, hot glare of the spotlight center stage.