Tuesday, June 27, 2023

And the 2023 Dorian TV Awards Go To...


Abbott Elementary

The Other Two

Fire Island

Somebody Somewhere

Los Espookys

⭐ Sarah Snook, Succession

⭐ Jennifer Coolidge, The White Lotus

⭐ Bridget Everett, Somebody Somewhere

⭐ Ayo Edebiri, The Bear

⭐ Ariana DeBose, “Angela Bassett Did the Thing (Opening Number),” BAFTA Film Awards

Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror

Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror


Harley Quinn

Jury Duty

The Last of Us


— To a performer, writer or commentator whose observations both challenge and amuse
⭐ Wanda Sykes

GALECA TV Icon Award:
— To a uniquely talented star we adore
⭐ Jennifer Coolidge

GALECA LGBTQIA+ TV Trailblazer Award
— For creating art that inspires empathy, truth and equity
⭐ Elliot Page

Presented by GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Reverend's Reviews: Love + Science plus Broadway

Coming of age as a gay teenager and young adult during the 1980's was downright terrifying. Not only was society less accepting of LGBTQ+ people, the life-threatening specter of AIDS hovered over us. I was a high school freshman in 1981, when it was first reported that gay men in the US were dying of rare cancers and infections. Initially labelled as the stigmatizing GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency), it would eventually be determined that it was primarily transmitted through sex. GRID/AIDS kept me and many other gay teens securely in the closet for as long as possible.

Love + Science, a new off-Broadway play by David J. Glass, is a potent recreation of that tumultuous time. It was inspired by Glass’ time at New York Medical College, where he took care of HIV patients as a medical student, as well as at Columbia University, where he conducted post-doctoral research on cancer in a laboratory that was focused on HIV and other emerging infectious diseases. As a native New Yorker, Glass witnessed first-hand how the HIV/AIDS epidemic radically changed the lives of gay men in New York City.

The play centers on two gay medical students, Matt and Jeff, who connect while working in a retrovirology lab in 1981. When HIV erupts, the fallout upends their relationship as their response to the rising epidemic pushes them along different paths. It also raises questions about their values as scientists and doctors, and their responsibilities as gay men. A sprawling yet intimate drama spanning the past four decades, Love + Science explores the difficulties of love during a crisis, the realities of scientific progress, and how to maintain hope amid an epic struggle.

At times, the play threatens to become more of a medical lecture than a drama. Ultimately, though, Allen's MacLeod's compassionate direction and his strong cast — not to mention the numerous, retro 80's tunes played during scene changes — make Love + Science a very effective piece of theatre. Special mention goes to attractive lead players Matt Walker (as Matt) and Jonathan Burke (as Jeff), since both of them are in virtually every scene, as well as Adrian David Greensmith, who is making his professional stage debut here in multiple roles. Greensmith brought the house down during the June 11th matinee I attended with a hilarious, improvised remark after a pesky fly invaded one of his scenes. All three of these talented young performers will be worth keeping an eye on in the future.

The production runs 105 minutes without an intermission. Performances continue through July 6th at New York City Center Stage II, located at 131 W 55th St in Manhattan. Visit the show's website for tickets and more information.

Reverend spent most of my weekends between mid-May and mid-June bingeing current Broadway shows in order to nominate and vote for our first-ever GALECA Dorian Theatre Awards, which were recently announced. Here's my brief rundown of a few musicals worth checking out now or when they tour, plus one new play I recommend giving a hard pass:

New York, New York:
An adaptation of the largely-forgotten 1977 movie directed by Martin Scorsese. It featured songs by John Kander and his late partner Fred Ebb. Some of them have been preserved in the stage version, notably the famous title tune, while Lin-Manuel Miranda worked with Kander to provide several new songs. Tony Award winner Susan Stroman directed and choreographed efficiently, although with some scene-change dance pieces that I found excessive. The book by David Thompson is negligible, but I was impressed by Colton Ryan's quirky turn in the leading man role. His performance was appropriately nominated for the Lead Actor Tony but he lost to non-binary J. Harrison Ghee (for Some Like It Hot, which I haven't yet seen). New York, New York did win a deserved Tony for Scenic Design.

This revival of Lerner & Loewe's take on the King Arthur legend, with a book re-worked/updated by Aaron Sorkin, has gotten mixed reviews but my friend Corey and I found it lovely. I was especially impressed by the un-miked singing by leads Fergie Philippe (covering as Arthur for Andrew Burnap, who was reportedly out sick on June 10th when we attended), Phillipa Soo of Hamilton fame as Guinevere, and Tony nominee Jordan Donica as Lancelot. Add a gorgeously full orchestra, vivid scenic design and costumes, and insightful direction by Bartlett Sher and you have an engrossing throwback to both classic Broadway and the idyllic title setting. Highly recommended.

& Juliet:
The biggest, most delightful surprise out of the bunch! I was afraid I would feel excluded by this youth-oriented sequel of sorts to Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet but needn't have been. Book writer David West Read (Schitt's Creek) and decades-spanning pop songwriter Max Martin have crafted a tuneful and thoroughly entertaining musical that explores what alternatives Juliet might have pursued if she didn't kill herself at the end of the original. The uber-talented young company, led by Lorna Courtney, blew me away. Meanwhile, Bway veterans Stark Sands as Shakespeare, Betsy Wolfe as his wife Anne Hathaway (not THAT Anne Hathaway, which becomes a running joke) and codpiece-sporting Paulo Szot provide strong, mature support. I loved everything about this show and was completely disappointed that it didn't win a single Tony Award. Don't let that stop you from seeing it!

Grey House:
The first production to open this new, Tony/Dorian-consideration season. This wannabe spookfest boasts great credentials: script by Levi Holloway, co-founder of the deaf youth-incorporating Neverbird Project; direction by Tony Award-winning actor-director Joe Mantello (Wicked, the original production of Take Me Out); and award-winning headliners Laurie Metcalf and Tatiana Maslany. Fantastic deaf actress Millicent Simmonds of A Quiet Place movies fame also plays a prominent role. The plot — about a haunted and/or possessed house in the woods populated by a strange group of girls and their caretaker — and fantastic set (designed by Scott Pask, also a multiple Tony Award winner) had me completely engrossed for the first 30 minutes or so. After that, the doldrums set in as not enough answers were supplied speedily enough to the numerous questions raised by the play. It also gets uneasily, convincingly gory. Save your time and money.

Reviews by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Reverend's Preview: Good Things Come in Small Packages at Palm Springs ShortFest

Many of us are conditioned to believe that size and/or length matters when it comes to certain things. But when it comes to short films, five minutes of celluloid or digital storytelling can pack as much of a wallop as a 90-minute+ feature film.

The 2023 Palm Springs International ShortFest will be proving this point from June 20th-26th at the Camelot Theatres. ShortFest is the largest short film festival in the US, returning for the first time post-pandemic with in-theatre film screenings, panels and roundtable discussions. Designated by AMPAS, BAFTA, BIFA and the Goya Awards as an award-qualifying festival, and accredited by the International Short Film Conference, the PS International ShortFest & Short Film Market is one of the most acclaimed short film showcases in the world.

Running during Pride Month, the ShortFest remains a touchstone for LGBTQ+ cinema across the world. The festival annually curates an LGBTQ+ short film lineup and provides awards in their Best LGBTQ+ Short category. Last year’s award winners included High Jump (directed by Lennert Madouand), with special mentions for Lucky Fish (directed by Emily May Jampel) and Tank Fairy (directed by Erich Rettstadt).

The full 2023 film program and schedule is available on their website. I was able to preview of few of this year’s selections. Several of the best — and definitely funniest — are women’s stories with universal appeal:

  • Crarylake Boats and Floats. Lane, a young adult lesbian, works at a boat rental shop. Her dull day to day routine is spiced up when a pretty renter enlists her on a secret mission.
  • Gold and Mud. A hilarious but ultimately poignant short wherein a neurotic woman (an excellent, decades-spanning performance by Ana Fabrega) can’t catch a break in life.
  • Gianna, which features LGBTQ fave Margaret Cho playing therapist to a client struggling with her literal inner demon.
  • Canadian filmmaker David Findlay’s Lay Me by the Shore is a potent story about a queer/trans student who is forced to reconcile with their troubled past on the eve of their high school graduation.
  • The Rainbow Dung Beetle is a sweet, animated short created by students at Orange County’s Chapman University. The title character is forced to disprove his late mother’s warning “When we shine, we die” soon after his new, same-sex insect neighbors move in.

While I didn’t get to screen it in advance, SCRED TBM certainly sounds intriguing: “Gabriel, a young father in a relationship, leads a double life. It is through a dedicated application and the pseudonym ‘Scred TBM’ that he is brought to live a part of his sexuality in secrecy. He scrupulously organizes his meetings in order to never be unmasked, but everything changes the day he meets a new profile.” Hmmm.

The remainder of this year’s ShortFest LGBTQ+ lineup, including several other animated shorts:

100% USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu
An Avocado Pit
Between Her
Burial of Life as a Young Girl
CANS Can't Stand
Christopher at Sea
Idiot Fish
Insta Gay
The Melting Creatures

Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

HBO Maxes Out the Dorian TV Award Nominations

With 32 nods, more than double any other network/service this year, HBO dominated the just announced Dorian TV Award nominations, presented by GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics. The post-apocalyptic thriller The Last of Us lead in the drama field with 8 nominations, while the bittersweet Somebody Somewhere topped the comedies with 6 nominations. Mike White's buzzy second season of The White Lotus was close behind with 5.

Click on the comments link below to see the full list of nominations. Winners will be announced June 21st.

Friday, June 2, 2023

The First Dorian Theater Awards Winners Announced!

It was a very brief NYC theater awards season for Reverend and the other charter members of our new GALECA Dorian Awards Theater Wing, but we did it! We announced our formation in April of this year and had until May 30th to submit our nominations. I was not able to see all the musicals, plays and revivals — both on and off Broadway — before our deadline but I am very pleased that my personal fave, Kimberly Akimbo, did so well in our final results. So, without further ado, here is the full list of Dorian Theater Award winners and finalists:

Outstanding Broadway Musical
Kimberly Akimbo 
Finalists: Shucked, Some Like it Hot
Outstanding Broadway Play
 Fat Ham
Finalists: Cost of Living, Leopoldstadt


Outstanding Broadway Musical Revival
 Into the Woods


Finalists: Parade, Sweeney Todd


Outstanding Broadway Play Revival
 A Doll’s House


Finalists: Ohio State Murders, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, Topdog/Underdog


Outstanding Lead Performance in a Broadway Musical
 Victoria Clark in Kimberly Akimbo


Finalists: Annaleigh Ashford in Sweeney Todd, J. Harrison Ghee in Some Like it Hot


Outstanding Featured Performance in a Broadway Musical
 Bonnie Milligan in Kimberly Akimbo


Finalists: Justin Cooley in Kimberly Akimbo,Alex Newell in Shucked


Outstanding Lead Performance in a Broadway Play
 Jodie Comer in Prima Facie


Finalists: Jessica Chastain in A Doll’s House, Sean Hayes in Good Night, Oscar, Stephen McKinley Henderson in Between Riverside and Crazy


Outstanding Featured Performance in a Broadway Play Crystal Lucas-Perry in Ain’t No Mo’


Finalists: Jordan E. Cooper in Ain’t No Mo, Miriam Silverman, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window 


Outstanding Broadway Ensemble
 Kimberly Akimbo


Finalists: Into the Woods, Shucked 


The Broadway Showstopper Award - To a standout production number or scene
 “Independently Owned” from Shucked


Finalists: “Better” from Kimberly Akimbo, “You Coulda Knocked Me Over with a Feather” from Some Like it Hot


Outstanding LGBTQ Broadway Production
 Fat Ham


Finalists: & Juliet, Some Like it Hot


Outstanding Off-Broadway Production


Finalists: Dark Disabled Stories, Downstate 


Outstanding Off-Broadway Performance
 Marla Mindelle in Titaníque


Finalists: K. Todd Freeman in Downstate, Ryan J. Haddad in Dark Disabled Stories, Parker Posey in The Seagull/Woodstock, NY


LGBTQ Theater Trailblazer Award - To a figure who inspires empathy, truth and equity
 J. Harrison Ghee


Finalists: Jordan E. Cooper, Ryan J. Haddad

Coming soon: This year's Dorian TV Awards!