I am a Melissa McCarthy fan… to a point. She really burst into stardom with her scene-stealing role in Bridesmaids and her TV series Mike and Molly. (She was also a bright spot on the almost forgotten Samantha Who?) She had an impressive first-time hosting gig on Saturday Night Live, where she showed a real range of characters from her patented obnoxious slob to a Mae West-style old-time movie star.
The Pirates of Pittsburgh may be having an off-year, but The Pirates of Penzance, currently playing at Toby’s, the Dinner Theatre of Columbia, looks sharp and is likely to have a strong summer. This take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1879 good-humored, mischievous work is an enjoyable experience filled with frivolity and tinges of slapstick that will keep you laughing throughout.
The comic opera’s music was written by Arthur Sullivan and the clever libretto penned by his co-collaborator W.S. Gilbert. The Pirates of Penzance was one of the duo’s most popular works—others including H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado, and The Sorcerer—and is one of the very few productions from that era still being performed.
For a while there, it looked like Canadian singer/songwriter Loreena McKennit might become as trendy as Enya. The similarities in their Celtic-influenced musical styles certainly made them worthy of comparison. McKennitt did have some hits (although not as many as Enya), earning her a devoted following and a reason to release a compilation such as The Journey So Far: The Best of Loreena McKennitt (UMe/QR). Drawing on songs from her 1990s period, when she was at her most popular, from albums including The Mask and the Mirror, The Visit and The Book of Secrets, the collection features “The Mummer’s Dance,” “The Mystic’s Dream” and “The Lady of Shallot,” to mention a few. The deluxe edition includes a second disc containing highlights from McKennitt’s 2012 Midsummer Night’s tour, recorded in Germany.
Faithful readers of Baltimore OUTloud should easily recognize the name Gregg Shapiro. Since the paper’s inception Shapiro has contributed mightily to the paper’s Lively Arts section with a wide assortment of previews and reviews of movies, CDs and poetry and a plethora of interviews of entertainment personalities—all with an LGBT angle and perspective.
The entertainment journalist is now “on the other side of the mic,” as he put it, and has penned a book about his gay experiences in Chicago. Titled Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories, the book of short stories will be released on September 2 by Squares & Rebels, an LGBT imprint of Handtype Press.
Most people know Ben Watt as the guy in Everything But the Girl, a band he started with his now wife Tracey Thorn in the 1980s. The pair developed a solid following throughout the 80s and into the 90s, but they didn’t achieve worldwide success until ten years after the release of their debut album. A remix of the song “Missing,” from their 1994 Amplified Heart disc would not only become their biggest commercial hit, but would also signal a change in their sound, leading them to move in a dance music direction on later albums. Watt continued to explore dance music as a DJ and musician throughout the beginning of the 21st century. Hendra (Unmade Road/Caroline), Watt’s first solo album in more than 30 (!) years, is a return to his singer/songwriter roots. I spoke with Ben about the album, EBTG’s LGBT following and more.
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