Haute Culture: The Uptown Players Debut First American Premiere of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Closer To Heaven”

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The Kalita Humphreys Theater in Uptown does not brag about its whereabouts. In fact, even if you are an entertainment journalist whose radar should be keen for such locations, you may do a couple U-turns on Turtle Creek before you see the innocuous signage and the path up the hill to the building itself, shrouded in trees.

But if you should come to the Kalita Theater this month, prepare for a flipped script. What was once a benign, innocent entertainment space has become the belly of a beast; so alive with theatrical performances, so decadent in stage artistry, so fluent in lascivious desires, you’ll wonder if the players are truly scions of the age, who made a deal with the devil to take part in such debauchery once again.

The Pet Shop Boys, who in the course of their decades’ long reign over the British pop scene has sold over 30 million records, earned themselves the spot as the most successful musical duo in UK history. But far be it for them to stop there. In 2001, they debuted Closer to Heaven in London, a play comprised of the band’s songs and following a troop of partying misfits whose lair is a hedonistic gay dance club set in the 1980’s. Opening to mixed reviews, the play closed in October of that year, and after a brief stint in Australia hasn’t seen the bright lights of live theatre since.

That is, until Director Bruce Coleman and Musical Director Adam C. Wright decided to make this play an American reality, for the first time, right here in Dallas. And at opening night this past Friday at Kalita, viewers and entertainers alike could barely contain their excitement. After a flawless performance– featuring Morgana Shaw as Billie Trix, the seductive den mother to the drug influenced dancing crowd, and Evan Fuller, who plays the not-so-secretive Straight Dave, a decidedly unconfused heartthrob who fends off (and entertains) interests from both sides of the fence–the cast, crew and audience members had some cake and took a few moments for photo ops.

The verdict: You don’t have to be a frequent visitor to S4 or know the proven effects of Ketamine to enjoy this show, although it may help. But if you are looking for a play that will take you to a place far from the ivy covered gables of Uptown Dallas, here’s your chance.

Closer to Heaven

October 1- October 24

Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd, 214.219.2718, www.uptownplayers.org

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