Toby’s Heather Beck Takes Mamma Mia! to Soaring Heights

Mamma Mia! continues to dance its way into the hearts of audiences this month at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, MD.  Running until September 9th, Mamma Mia! is the story of a daughter’s quest to discover her father’s identity, which brings three very different men from her mother’s past back into her life. Baltimore OUTloud recently chatted with Heather Beck who plays Donna, the protagonist’s mother in the performance.  “This performance is just absolutely fun!” Began actress Heather Beck.  “The show is just high-energy, and it can’t help but put a smile on the faces of our audiences.”  Beck’s depiction of Donna, who is also portrayed by Meryl Streep in the on-screen […]

One of the Great Believers-An interview with writer Rebecca Makkai

If you’ve been waiting for the arrival of the best book of 2018, look no further than The Great Believers (Viking, 2018), the new novel by Rebecca Makkai. Starred reviews in Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, as well as an A- review in Entertainment Weekly, are not exaggerations. Makkai’s dazzling epic about the AIDS epidemic and its impact on a group of friends in Chicago during the 1980s is insightful, sensitive, revelatory and nothing short of a tearjerker. I had the privilege of speaking with Rebecca on June 19th, the publication date of The Great Believers. Gregg Shapiro: Rebecca, I’d […]

Queerer than Ever

Remember when lesbian rock was measured on a Melissa Etheridge scale? The way you could find common ground with other Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman, K.D. Lang, Joan Armatrading, Melissa Ferrick, and Two Nice Girls fans. Then, along came Sleater-Kinney, Kaia (and The Butchies), Tegan and Sara, Le Tigre, Team Dresch, Mary Gauthier and Ani DiFranco, and the world began to shift on its axis. These days the spectrum has broadened to include Brandi Carlile and Brandy Clark, St. Vincent and Sia, Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani, Julien Baker and Beth Ditto, Lucy Dacus and H.C. McEntire. Courtney Barnett’s brilliant 2015 debut […]

Addiction & His Muse

When it comes to album titles, gay singer / songwriter Steve Grand came up with a good one for his second album. Not the End of Me (, on which Grand deals with his pre-sobriety downward spiral, is definitely fitting. Facing his demons head on, Grand has written some of his most visceral songs for this album (check out “Disciple”). Nevertheless, Grand knows his fan-base well enough to also include the kinds of songs his devoted followers will appreciate, as in the case of “You or the Music.” We spoke about the new album and his newfound clarity in July […]

Take a Chance on Mamma Mia! at Toby’s

I grew up with the music of ABBA, and it’s safe to say most people are familiar with their multitude of hits. And of course, most people also know those songs were folded into a Broadway musical that ran for more than 5,700 performances. I was fortunate enough to see the final tour of Mamma Mia! when it came to Baltimore in January of 2017. I enjoyed the show, the cast and, most of all, the music which actually seemed a bit more important than the story. It has to be difficult to construct a story around already established songs […]

Getting Really High

I was a kid during the “Golden Age of Disaster Movies” in the 1970s. Airport really launched the all-star disaster epic, but it was The Poseidon Adventure that took disaster movies to the next level. That was followed by The Towering Inferno and Earthquake, but a succession of cheaply-made disaster movies with B-level stars (or badly slumming A-listers, such as Paul Newman and Sean Connery) helped the genre quickly peter out. There wasn’t another really good disaster movie until Daylight in 1996 (a very underrated film with a great cast that captures the spirit of the best of the 70s […]

What’s So Funny?

Great comedians make you laugh and think. Great comedy stays with you long after the laughs have subsided. If you’ve seen Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix comedy special “Nanette,” you’ll understand what this means. Gadsby singlehandedly raises the bar for comedy, putting it out of reach for many other stand-up comics. “Out On Stage” (Fathom Events / Comedy Dynamics), which is being shown in theaters for one night only on July 24th, shortly after “Nanette” began airing, will suffer by comparison. True, it features a multitude of comics, not just one. But the main similarity is that “Out On Stage” touches on […]

Baltimore Skater Stars in Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Crystal’

Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever on-ice production, “Crystal – A Breakthrough Ice Experience,” is more than just an ice show. Exploring the artistic limits of ice for the first time in the company’s history, the unique production pushes the boundaries of performance by combining stunning skating with acrobatic feats that defy the imagination. Running from July 5th through 8th at the Royal Farms Arena, the performance brings together gymnasts and skaters that perform acrobatics on both the ice and the air. Baltimore OUTloud recently chatted with Crystal skater, and Baltimore-native, Scott Smith regarding his upcoming performance in the show. “Audiences are […]

Baltimore Comic Premieres First Comedy Special

Charm City’s resident comedic jewel, Michael Furr, is celebrating the upcoming film release of his self-proclaimed “super gay stand-up comedy special” called “Straight Acting.” Available both on his website and very soon to Amazon Prime, the hour long stand-up special is hilariously entertaining and will have audiences in stitches. Furr recently chatted with Baltimore OUTloud about the upcoming release, his material and his upcoming projects. Frankie Kujawa: Michael, your new special is absolutely hysterical! From where do you draw your material? Michael Furr: It’s all from personal experience. It’s all stories and conversations that I’ve had with friends, or […]

Toby’s Revives Mamma Mia!

In conjunction with the upcoming premiere of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opening in theatres on July 20th, Toby’s Dinner Theatre is bringing the ABBA-infused musical Mamma Mia! to the stage this month. Running until September 9th, Mamma Mia! is the story of a daughter’s quest to discover her father’s identity, which brings three very different men from her mother’s past back into her life. Baltimore OUTloud recently chatted with Maggie Dransfield who plays daughter Sophie in the performance. “Audience can expect more than just an ABBA concert.” Began Dransfield. “That’s something that Mark [Minnick, director and choreographer] has […]