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  WINDY CITY TIMES

STAGE DOOR JONNY
by Jonathan Abarbanel
2001-06-27

This article shared 1497 times since Wed Jun 27, 2001
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Many of you have written, phoned and emailed WCT to ask where-oh-where has Jonny been these last few issues, and to inquire about our health. Well, Jonny has been hibernating. No, not like a bear. WITH a bear!

Latino actor and writer John Leguizamo is bringing his new one-man show to Chicago for two performances only. John Leguizamo Live! will stop at the Shubert Theatre July 31 and Aug. 1. This really should be on your "don't miss" list. Jonny remembers, not so many years ago, seeing the very young Leguizamo ( he's still young; back then he was very young ) in a 135-seat studio theater here in Chicago. Now he's at the 2,000-seat big Broadway Shubert, and he'll fill it, too. The show is being promoted with a photo of Leguizamo in nothing but his boxer shorts. Can anyone say "sex object?"

Well, it's the very peak of the Pride Series 2001 at Bailiwick Arts Center, what with Corpus Christi up and running, and Posing Strap Pirates nearly up and bobbing ( opens July 18 ) . But do not think for a second that Bailiwick has cornered the market on naked actors. Oh, no-no-no! The Theatre Building, right next door, will offer several of the biggest stars in porndom--including our own fellow journalist Peter Dixon of Nightlines—in the latest epic from the man who brought you Making Porn, playwright Ronnie Larsen. His new opus is titled—sequentially if not imaginatively—Shooting Porn, and will play the Theatre Building for two weeks only, July 25-Aug. 5.

It's all about what goes on behind the scenes on the set of a gay porn film. You know, scenery, lights, camera, script rewrites, catering, as if you cared. What you REALLY want to know is who, in addition to Dixon, will be displaying his wears. The cast includes Jason Branch, Gino Colbert, J. T. Sloan, Larsen himself and someone from Los Angeles described as "actor Rob Miller." Good heavens! Do you suppose they've actually sneaked a real thespian into the company? We won't know until Mr. Miller opens his mouth and drops his pants, not necessarily in that order.

Speaking of naked actors, Jonny is surprised that none of Our Town's theater critics—not even those writing for the GLBT papers including this one—have mentioned the real reason a gay man would want to shell out big bucks to see Mamma Mia, the show with music by Abba continuing into August at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. The real reason is: there are a whole lot of really hot guys in it, running around in nothing but bathing suits and wet suits ( for those of you with a neoprene fetish ) .

Well, that's three items in a row about guys who are dressed down, or not dressed at all. Do you think there's a theme to this installment of Stage Door Jonny?

So let us move from the ridiculous to the sublime: the award-winning About Face Theatre Company has received a stunning three-year, $200,000 grant from the Diana, Princes of Wales Memorial Fund ( U.S. ) , one of only five such grants handed out in honor of what would have been Diana's 40th birthday. In its brief three years of grant-making so far, the Diana Fund both in the United States and in the United Kingdom has placed itself on the cutting edge of social-issue philanthropy. The birthday grants all have gone to organizations that empower youth who face challenges not common to adolescence. One of six risk areas prioritized by the Fund are 10-18 year olds dealing with issues of sexuality and gender identity. This fits precisely with the work of the About Face Youth Theatre, which serves the GLBTQ adolescent population. The grant will be used by About Face for organizational development and expansion of its Youth Theatre.

A man named Morry Matson, who says he is "America's youngest opera founder" ( although we don't think he's really researched the topic ) is sending out a call for charter members and trustees for a proposed Chicago Comic Opera Company, which he proclaims will be "the first all-gay opera company in the U.S.A." Matson founded the Rimrock ( Montana ) Opera Company in 1997, when he was 25 years old. Now, at the ripe, old age of 29, Matson is proposing a troupe with a Boystown locale to perform "all the fun favorites" such as Gilbert & Sullivan, Offenbach, Strauss ( does he mean Johan or Oscar? ) , the Italians and pre-1929 Broadway stuff. He hopes to have a first production running in time for Pride Week next June. He's in discussions with the Broadway Theatre ( where Hedwig and the Angry Inch now plays ) , and is proposing to stage the early G&S work, Tiral By Jury, and a little-known Gershwin piece, Blue Monday, both one-acts.

Thing of it is, Matson has appointed himself founding president and music director before he's put together a board or completed incorporation as a not-for-profit troupe. And he's not yet taken the measure of the local theatrical, musical and funding communities, or allowed them to take the measure of him, which Jonny has urged him to do. Usually, potential board members and contributors like to see a sample of the merchandise before they invest time or money.

Matson's idea is good: a not-for-profit, community musical institution, devoted to mirthful interpretations of comic classics, with a particular GLBT flair. "The Northalsted community will provide an abundant supply of wit, verve and 'joie de vivre' that is mandatory for comic opera," he says. And his financial ambitions are, initially, modest. He believes he can stage the opening show for $30,000 including pay for singers, musicians, director, etc.

Of course, we wish him well and will await further reports about his progress. For more information, Matson invites calls at 773-561-9060, ext. 301, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.


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