It’s such a joy to ring in the holidays with seasonal entertainment from thriving local theater companies around Atlanta. On today’s Around Atlanta episode, Paul Conroy, the founder and producing artistic director of Out Front Theatre Company, shares the unique mission of the theatre and gives details on the brand-new, 100-percent original Christmas play happening now.
Originally from Boston, Conroy decided to move to Atlanta on a whim during the economic downturn. Since being in Atlanta, he has worked as the artistic director of Newman Theatre Company, a marketing assistant at Alliance and general manager of Serenbe Playhouse. After several discussions with friends, it occurred to him that Atlanta had an unmet demand for material that explored LGBTQ experiences. In 2016, Out Front Theatre Company arrived with an ambitious production of the Broadway musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
“The community as a whole loves what we do,” states Conroy. “But, because of our mission to tell the story of the LGBTQ community, some people don’t want to support us and that’s fine.” In 2017, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told came to the stage of Out Front Theatre and an online petition, along with serious threats, was taken against the company. “I am actually thankful to these people because we got tons of exposure. The New York Times, papers in London, Italy and Spain, were all talking about Out Front Theatre. People from everywhere were coming to see this play, which has been around for 20-plus years!”
Atlanta is a vibrant theater scene with great productions and many theater companies are in tune with the city’s stories. Living in a city with tons of cultural diversity, Conroy says they’re all about taking risks and encouraging new works. “The mission of our theater is to connect people, inspire hope and promote positive change through the stories of our time,” says Conroy.
The brand-new, first-ever holiday production, The Ethel Merman Disco Christmas Spectacular, is an original play produced from scratch by Conroy. “About two years ago I was driving from Boston to Atlanta after spending the holidays with my family,” he states. “Somewhere along the trip, I started to listen to Ethel Merman’s disco album and I thought ‘Why didn’t Ethel ever make a Christmas album?’ and ‘What if she made a disco Christmas album?’ One thing led to another and here we are!” The production features a dozen blood-pumping disco Christmas songs and takes place at the legendary Studio 54.
Performances run December 6 through December 22, with shows on Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. A special performance will also be staged on Monday, December 17 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices are $15 for children under 13, $20 for students and seniors and $25 for adults. Out Front Theatre Company is located at 999 Brady Ave., Ste. 10, Atlanta, Georgia 30318. For tickets and more information, visit outfronttheatre.com.
Tune into the podcast with the link above to hear the interview with Conroy and to learn more about how you can get involved with Out Front Theater.
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