LGBT theatre patrons will face a healthy slate of familiar and new stage offerings in the upcoming 2013-2014 theatre season, including the hit Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” and a local production of the classic “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Those two productions precede next spring’s local reproduction of “Angels in America” by the Carolina Actors Studio Theatre. The play caused waves of controversy — both religious and political — when it was first staged in Charlotte nearly 20 years ago.
‘Book of Mormon’
“The Book of Mormon” comes “straight” from the minds of “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with “Avenue Q” co-creator Robert Lopez. It’s a hard-hitting musical satire, poking fun at a wide range of issues intersecting with religion, including homosexuality, evangelism and missionary outreach.
“Mormon” has received a great deal of positive press and critical response. It’s won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It also won a Grammy Award for its album.
One of the main characters, Elder McKinley, is struggling with his repressed gay identity. In the number, “Turn It Off,” he teaches his fellow missionaries how turn off their own temptations “like a light switch.”
“The Book of Mormon” will play as a part of Blumenthal’s Broadway Lights Series this December and January. For more information, visit blumenthalarts.org.
‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’
Birthed originally as a musical, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” gained a larger following when it was made into a film in 2001. The rock musical’s gay and gender-bending themes are front and center. The main character, Hedwig, suffers from a horribly-botched gender affirmation surgery, and the bulk of the production follows Hedwig and her band as she follows rockstar Tommy Gnosis, whom she launched into stardom, as he tours around the country. Tommy’s character is based, in part, on creator James Cameron Mitchell of “Shortbus” fame. The musical’s themes are provoking, guiding audience members into a journey of self-exploration and self-thought. “Hedwig” plays at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte this January. For more information, visit atcharlotte.org.
‘Angels in America’
Later in the 2013-2014 season, Carolina Actors Studio Theatre will revive “Angels in America” for local audiences. The play, created in 1993 by Tony Kushner, won a Pulitzer Prize. But, that didn’t stop it from drawing ire from religious and political conservatives when it was staged in Charlotte in 1996. A mere several seconds of full-frontal male nudity and the play’s gay and AIDS-related themes were enough for Mecklenburg County commissioners to strip all public funding from local arts. We’re betting the reception will go over much more smoothly this time around, leaving the focus of “Angels” exactly where it should remain. The play’s several themes — gay rights, the AIDS Crisis, family — are still important 20 years after its creation and more than 30 years after the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. The play will screen in May. For more information, visit nccast.com. : :