Theater Caps are bite-sized punch-packing capsule reviews by resident theater critic Elaine Liner. Use them as a reminder -- or a teaser, if you procrastinate -- of her full-length reviews in The Mixmaster's weekly sister.
A short play starring Marisa Diotalevi and a totally naked man? We're there. The hilarious Diotalevi, one of Dallas theater's most adept monologists, stars in Paul Rudnick's wildly funny The New Century, a highlight of Uptown Players' inaugural Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, winding up its second weekend at Kalita Humphreys Theater.
The New Century, performed one more time at 4 p.m. Saturday, is a series of three monologues (directed by Andi Allen) and one short one-act by and about gay characters. In the section called Pride and Joy, Diotalevi is Helene Nadler, a beautifully coiffed Jewish mom from Long Island giving a speech to "Parents of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, the Transgendered, the Questioning, the Curious, the Creatively Concerned and Others."
How did she end up raising a lesbian, a transsexual and a leather fetishist who enjoys bathroom play? It's a mystery to Helene, who shares with the audience her total acceptance of her kids - well, except for the scatology part. "David, in this house we use the toilet - not a friend from Tribeca."
Paul J. Williams and Lulu Ward perform the other two monologues and they're terrifically entertaining, too. He plays a gay host of a Florida public access talk show, on which "Mr. Charles" admits he was asked to leave New York City for being "too gay." She plays a middle-aged craft expert from Decatur, Illinois, who knits together a beautiful story about her gay son, visiting Ground Zero and learning to deal with grief through glitter and hot glue. Great stuff here.
Oh, and the naked guy is Brandon Simmons, playing Mr. Charles' young "ward," Shane. His appearance altogether is one of Rudnick's jokes about gay theater, where gratuitous full frontal nudity is not only common but expected.
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Also on the Pride Fest schedule is the new musical Crazy, Just Like Me, a light comedy about three 20-somethings going through quarterlife crises in which one of them realizes he's gay. Alex Ross and Kayla Carlyle give nice performances in this one, though the whole thing goes on about 45 minutes too long. It's on at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
At 2 p.m. Saturday catch Beautiful Thing, a play by Jonathan Harvey starring Shane Beeson, Sam Swenson, Parker Fitzgerald, Dena Dunn and Madeline Purches. Dallas writer-director-designer Bruce R. Coleman's new play, Asher, TX '82, will be performed at 6 p.m. Saturday. And the finale of the fest is a musical showcase by cabaret stars Amy Armstrong and Freddy Allen, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, on the main stage.
Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival continues through September 17 at Kalita Humphreys Theater. Call 214-219-2718 or visit watertowertheatre.org.