Denver's Dangerous Theatre has been tickling funny boners and titillating naughty parts since 2007, and its latest play, Here be Dragons, is a tale of Christianity and homosexuality -- with a dangerous hint of science and a delicious smidge of naked man-ass.
But the theater itself still lurks in the shadows of local playhouses in more ways than one. Dangerous Theatre offers bold and ballsy patrons a taste of the extraordinary by putting on unpublished plays filled to the brim with adult content, and showcasing sexy, kinky, and GLBT talent. (For show times today and tomorrow, look below).
Dangerous Theatre is owned and operated by Winnie Wenglewick. The modest theater space has a sixty-seat capacity, perfect for a small and open-minded audience; some of its edgy productions have included Black Stockings, An Evening with Mr. Johnson: It's Harder Than You Think to be a Dick, Redneck Romeo & Juliet and Kama Sutra & The Dominatrix.
But possibly the most dangerous thing the theater does is to produce only unpublished, untried pays. "That's where the theater name comes from -- it's a dangerous proposal doing theater for a living," said Wenglewick. "It's also a bit dangerous choosing plays no one's ever heard of."
She prefers these plays because there is more creative freedom and artistic license than with published plays -- and she doesn't have to deal with the publishing houses who own them. "I want to give new people and new plays a chance," Wenglewick says. "I get direct contact with the playwrights about the plays, and get to work with them personally. You don't get that working with publishing houses."
Wenglewick has no issues with putting it all out there: her reputation, her pocketbook, and her conviction that alternative lifestyles and openness about sexuality deserve the same spotlight as less-risqué theatrical subjects.
The productions are sometimes campy, but they have sex-positive messages in them. The current production, Stephen J. Miller's one-act Here Be Dragons tackles a tough subject: is it possible to deny homosexuality in order to be a good Christian, and if you can, should you have to? It's highly entertaining -- and highly controversial.
Daniel (Kevin Leonard), a gay man, falls asleep in his motel room in Texas, and after a lightning storm, wakes up in Michigan on a couch (naked man-ass alert) belonging to his old college flame, Tom (Ben Hauth), now "reformed" into a heterosexual man and married to Leslie (Kate Moreland). A serious Christian, Leslie is very much convinced that Daniel's sudden appearance is a miracle from God.
Hijinks -- and a saucy full-frontal from Hauth -- ensue. Leonard's performance is exuberant, punctuated with hilariously stereotypical gay jokes and follies like his singing snippets of show tunes; he refers to himself as the "Incendiary Faggot from Hell" in the first scene. Hauth's characterization of a conflicted gay, Christian man is spot-on, while Moreland's Leslie hits hard on the Bible and creates a believable conflict between moral limitation and the reality of open and unabashed homosexuality.
Leonard, who is noted for playing Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch for two years running in California, is part of the Dangerous Theatre Troupe, along with actors Brittany Lacour, Norelle Moore, Devin Jamroz and Winter Maza and co-artistic director Eric Mindykowski.
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Another facet of Dangerous Theatre that may frighten the timid is a fat dose of real, raw emotion from the plays. "I choose plays that have little or no sets so that the atmosphere is intimate," said Wenglewick. "I'm never going to move into big theater because I want the audience so close that they cannot escape any emotions going on on stage."
Here Be Dragons shows at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It picks up again on October 21 and continues on Fridays and Saturdays through November 12. The theater is located at 2620 West 2nd Avenue.
Upcoming plays include Peter McGarry's Kama Sutra (opening October 21), a comedy about sexual exploration, and Kentucky Claus & The Rebel Elves (opening November 26) by Jonathan M. Vick, a comedy where Santa gets shot by rednecks, and all hell breaks loose in the back woods. For tickets or more information, visit www.dangeroustheatre.com.