Presenting “Out Loud”

After a three month hiatus, it’s high time I return to my blog, though this entry will be a relatively short one. In early November I became quite busy with my writing projects, which turned out to be much more demanding then I expected. All my marketing activities ground to a halt, though I now have something important to promote, which I’ll get to shortly.


First of all, I was attempting to meet my personal goal of finishing my second novel, Fidelio’s Automata, by the end of 2013. Although I made a valiant effort at editing and cleaning up the draft manuscript, I was forced to set it aside. I’m recently resumed that project and hope to be done by the end of this month. I’ll keep you posted.


My second, more urgent project is a theatrical production, which is called OUT LOUD! Stories from the Gayborhood. The show boasts five contributors of different short works, including three scenes by myself and my girlfriend/collaborator, Arlys Holloway. The latter are excerpts from our work in progress, a musical comedy about on-line dating called One Good Man. When I took up writing a few years ago, I never expected it to go in that direction. Frankly, if I’d have realized how challenging writing a musical would be, I probably would not have attempted it. (By the way, many thanks to JR McAlexander with his invaluable assistance with the music.) Despite several weeks of chronic sleep deprivation, it’s been an enjoyable and educational experience.


Now, after two years of preparation, OUT LOUD! is finally coming to the stage, with seven talented local actors playing over twenty roles. Besides our own musical numbers, the show features works of fantasy, young romance, and drama, by playwrights Ben Gill, B.D. Heywood and Lori Hicks. Like us, they’re newcomers to writing for the theater, and we owe a debt of gratitude to our facilitator, mentor and director, Richard Schultz. (Shameless plug: Gill, Heywood, Hicks and I all have novels published on Amazon.)


The title makes obvious the show’s lesbian/gay theme, and in fact, it is a benefit for the One Voice LGBT Community Center in Phoenix. All the works have gay/lesbian characters and/or writers. Though Arlys and I have a more conventional orientation, we are proud to support the cause of equality for the LGBT community. Though gays and lesbians have achieved much in recent years, there has recently been a resurgence in bigotry around the world, especially in the Middle East and in Putin’s Russia. Vladimir would no doubt consider our show “homosexual propaganda,” which is his standard smear on anyone who opposes his agenda of making gays into scapegoats for his country’s problems. (Though I do appreciate his opposition to the neocons’ Syria war plans – but that’s another topic.)


For those who would rather support Truth, Justice and the American Way, showings of OUT LOUD! will be February 6, 7, and 8th at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 North 3rd Street at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $10 and $25; to buy in advance, call 602-254-3100, and for more information, Warning: these works have mature subject matter, so it’s not for children or for the easily offended. We invite those of a more eclectic bent to join us for an enjoyable evening of original theater by local Arizona writers.


Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

t’s amazing what people will write plays about these days. That’s a good thing, because it’s pretty difficult to come up with an original idea. When you’ve got one, you run with it. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is one of those “crazy” ideas. It’s a musical about the life of America’s seventh president, and it’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill historical play.

My girlfriend and I saw the play on June 15th at Phoenix Theatre. It was hilarious, irreverent, profane, and only occasionally historically accurate. In other words, we really enjoyed it. It has a rock ‘n’ roll score, which a friend described as “My Chemical Romance does Broadway.” In lieu of an official review, I’ll just say we thought the acting and singing were superb, especially Caleb Reese, of the local rock band “The Instant Classics,” as Old Hickory (which, the play informed us, was actually a nickname for Jackson’s penis.) The music, which included the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” was pretty catchy. The song, “Populism, Yeah Yeah” is still stuck in my head.

As I said before, if you want something that’s true to historical fact, this isn’t the play for you. Jackson struts around like a rock star, wearing a jacket with “AJ” and a lighting bolt in sequins on the back. He calls his friends “bro,” contacts constituents on a red telephone, and refers to his rivals in the Whig Party as “Republicans,” though the GOP wasn’t founded until 1854. In the play Jackson’s parents both perish on the same night. In real life, their deaths were 14 years apart.

In the most important respects, however, the play captured the spirit of the man- brash, egotistical and amoral. The word “bloody” in the title refers to the wars he fought, and to his appalling treatment of Native Americans. Most of us know that Jackson fought “the bloody British in the town of New Orleans”, which the play does mention. (Sadly they didn’t – or perhaps weren’t allowed to – use the iconic Jimmy Driftwood song.) Jackson was also a “hero” of the Creek and Seminole Indian Wars, and as President, he was responsible for the Indian Removal Act, which led to the infamous “Trail of Tears.”

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, written by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, is showing at the Phoenix Theatre (located at Central and McDowell) though June 23, 2013. Depending on your location in time and space, this information may not do you much good (assuming you are out there) but if you get a chance to see this play, I’d recommend it.