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Monday, December 15, 2014

A Gay Theater Company in Columbus, Ohio


I am honored to have been recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Evolution Theatre Company [ETC] here in Columbus, Ohio.  I suspect that my appointment has something to do with my theatrical adventures in acting and directing since I retired from teaching over ten years ago (16 shows in all) and my involvement in gay rights in this city.  The latter is particularly important because ETC has made the decision to change its mission to performing exclusively LGBT plays and musicals starting with the 2015 season.  This is an exciting endeavor, and I’m also pleased that I’ve been selected to direct one of the plays” “The Temeramentals.”  It’s the incredible story of Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society, the gay rights organization that was formed in 1950 (!), an era when gay men could be arrested for simply holding hands in a restaurant.  For more on Harry Hay and the terrors of that era see  I’m much looking forward to helping ETC explore this important part of gay history up on our stage.
Harry Hay (upper left) and the Mattachine Society's First Christmas

Evolution Theatre Company has also tasked its Board members with raising money for the company, and one way of doing this is through the sale of subscriptions for the coming season at rock bottom prices (two plays, two musicals—for a list of the 2015 shows see  The four shows are also described below.  A subscription to the season made before January 1st can be had for the incredibly low sum of $50 per person (as opposed to paying a total of $90 at the box office for all four shows).  A subscription to the Preview performances is half that amount!  To subscribe go to

If you are interested in helping support live LGBT theater in the Columbus area, please help us out.  A donation or a sponsorship would be fantastic, but at the very least please consider buying these subscriptions for yourself and your partner, loved ones, or friends.  Like all theatrical companies in town, ETC (which pays its actors and crew) needs funding to keep going, but also filling up the seats in the various performances is vital.  The contact information is below, and if you do decide to support us in any way, remember that Board members are being evaluated on whether they can raise money, so please also mention my name and help me keep my seat.

Many thanks, fellow theatergoers.

Douglas Whaley


Purchase a subscription by January 1, 2015 for only $50! (a $90 value)
or, and this is really an incredible value:

Purchase a PREVIEW subscription (first Wednesday) for only $25! (a $40 value) 

Our 2015 Season
[See Clearer Descriptions Below]

Yank! The Musical  Book and lyrics by David Zellnik, Music by Joseph Zellnik May 27 - June 6
Preview Wed. May 27, 8 PM; Performances Thurs. - Sat. May 28 - June 6, 8 PM Sun. May 31, 2 PM

YANK! explores what it means to be a man, and what it is to fall in love and struggle to survive in a time and place where the odds are stacked against you. Suffused with songs (swing, big band, boogie-woogie) it explores what stories get told in wartime, and how WWII became the great catalyst in bringing gay men and women together. While the characters in Yank! are fictional, all of the situations and viewpoints come directly from memoirs and oral histories of gay (and straight) service members who took part in WWII. 


The Temperamentals  by Jon Marans July 8 18
Preview Wed. July 8, 8 PM; Performances Thurs. - Sat. July 9 - 26, 8 PM Sun. July 12, 2 PM

Temperamentals was a code word for homosexuals in the early 1950s, part of a created language of secret words that gay men used to communicate. The Temperaments tells the story of two men - the communist Harry Hay and the Viennese refugee and designer Rudi Gernreich - as they fall in love while building the first gay rights organization, along with Chuck Rowland, Bob Hull, and Dale Jennings, in the pre-Stonewall United States. It is a true story. This production is lovingly dedicated to the memory Barbara Sokol.


Sordid Lives by Del Shores September 16 26
Preview Wed. Sept. 16, 8 PM; Performances Thurs - Sat. Sept 17 - 26, 8 PM Sun. Sept. 20, 2 PM

This comedy was nominated for over thirty awards during its long run in Los Angeles. Sordid Lives puts a comedic twist on a story of unconditional love, acceptance and "coming out" in a Texas family, as they all converge for the matriarch's funeral. Their lives intertwine, giving each a new perspective, honesty, and meaning.


Zanna Dont Book, music and lyrics by Tim Acito; additional lyrics by Alexander Dinelaris Nov. 11 - 21
Preview Wed. Nov 11, 8 PM; Performances Thurs - Sat. Nov  12 - 21, 8 PM Sun. Nov. 15, 2 PM

Welcome to Heartsville High, set in a world where everyone is gaywell, almost everyone. The big man on campus is both the chess champion and the captain of the football team, made cool by being cast as the lead in the school musical. The students write a controversial show called Dont ask, Dont tell about straight people in the military, which becomes the catalyst for a young man and woman to fall in love. Enter Zanna, a magical, musical fairy who, with a wave of his wand, brings true love to one and all.

Purchase your subscription at
or send your check to: Evolution Theatre Inc. P O Box 21072, Columbus, OH 43221 with the completed PERFORMANCE SELECTION FORM. (Dont worry if your plans change we have a no hassle exchange policy)  

Performances are in the Van Fleet Theatre  549 Franklin Ave., Columbus, OH. Questions: call or text Evolution Theatre Company, 614-233-1124 or email

[Note:  The above posters were created by my very talented graphic artist husband, David Vargo]

A Guide to the Best of My Blog, April 29, 2013 at


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Singing and Dancing in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” at Age 71

[Click To Enlarge Any Photo]

It’s been a long time since I was in a musical, but when Little Theatre Off Broadway [LTOB] in Grove City (a suburb of Columbus, Ohio) sent out audition notices for Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine’s “Into the Woods” last summer, my husband, David Vargo, suggested we should audition.  We did so and were promptly cast: he as the Big Bad Wolf (and also Cinderella’s Father) and me as the Mysterious Man.  It was first time for us to be in a show together, and that’s an experience we will always treasure.

Most of the very large cast (the Act Two finale had 21 people singing and dancing on stage!) were young people, many in their twenties (four were still in high school, and the cow was played by an eleven year-old), lots of them music majors or experienced singers.  Sondheim’s music and lyrics are very complicated, and we were singing to a pre-recorded orchestral score, so the whole thing was quite a challenge.  Indeed both David and I were originally doubtful that LTOB could do a credible job of putting on this musical masterpiece.  But the director was Lisa Cravens-Brown, who had so splendidly directed the last play I was in (“Seascape,” also at LTOB), and the musical director was Bryn Sowash, who clearly knows her stuff too, so we reserved judgment. 

Little Red and the Wolf

We each had a duet in the show, David as the Wolf meeting Little Red Riding Hood (played splendidly by Bridget Harrington), and my character with the Baker (played by the amazing Michael McElroy).  David, a former professional actor, had a terrific time as the Wolf, and his howl at the end of his duet when anticipating eating both Little Red and her grandmother was a crowd-pleaser.  My duet was the song “No More,” which is a lovely number, full of longing and regret as a father comforts his son.

"No More"

The duets were interesting, and I had a number of scenes with funny dialogue, but the most challenging parts of the show were the two finales, each of which involved complicated singing of complicated lyrics while performing complicated dances.  The youngsters zipped through all of this, but it was more a struggle for David, and most particularly for my 71 year-old self.  Fortunately I was almost always obscured by the other members of the chorus when dancing, so no one (not even the director) noticed my mistakes, or, kindly, at least  no one said anything about my bumbling. 

Act One Finale

We sold out every performance (there were 12 of them, plus a preview), so “Into the Woods” was a hit for LTOB.  Audiences were astounded at the professional quality of the show, with sets that flew up and down, costumes and scenery designed with storybook-writing matching on both, and elaborate props, including a goose that laid golden eggs, a giant crushed pair of spectacles, a gilded harp, and much more.  The sound was amazing, carefully balanced by a genius so that every word was clearly heard.  The talented cast flew through this complex show, frequently with no hitches of any kind.

David and I threw the cast party (featuring the Whaley martini), and at one point the well-lubricated partygoers sang the following parody of the finale lyrics, which I had written in a moment of whimsy:

Into the woods we have to go
Cause we’re the people in the show
Into the woods, we’re mumbling low
(The words are such a jumble)
Into the woods, we’d like to stop
Backstage we need a traffic cop

Into the woods one final time
To hum . . . to rhyme
To Sond . . . to Heim
To James . . . Lapine
Into the woods
To hell with the woods
We’re doing “Wicked” next time!


On Christmas Day the movie version of “Into the Woods” hits the theaters.  It stars Meryl Streep as the Witch and Johnny Depp as the Wolf.  Our LTOB cast is planning a mass visit to see some performance of the movie together, which should be great fun.  The trailer can be seen at

Readers of my blog may remember that I judge most of life’s experiences by what I call “The Deathbed Test,” [see], which asks what memories will cause you to either slap your head with dismay or grin from ear to ear.  This wonderful production of “Into the Woods” easily fits into the latter category.  Many thanks to the entire cast and crew for a terrific memory!  David and I love you all.

Cast and Crew
Related Posts:
“Douglas Whaley, Actor,” August 14, 2010
"Directing 'Closure'," June 5, 2010
“I Am an 89 Year-Old Russian Jew,” January 31, 2011
“Another Opening, Another Show: Doug is in ‘Hamlet,’” April 29, 2011
“Acting Crazy: Doug in a New Show,” October 25, 2012
“On Stage Again: Acting in Edward Albee’s “Seascape,” February 26, 2014