(Thumbnail Image: The New York Times)

 

A Newsweek writer sparked controversy by suggesting openly gay actors are unconvincing in straight roles. But did he have a point?

The article was prompted by a review of the revived Broadway hit, Promises Promises, starring Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. Hayes is openly gay, yet plays the role of a straight bachelor crushing on Chenoweth's character. The Newsweek article says their on-stage relationship is a joke.

"While it's OK for straight actors to play gay ... it's rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse... an actor's background does affect how we see his or her performance."

Chenoweth wrote a rebuttal to Newsweek that quickly went viral and was republished in full by Perez Hilton. She says Newsweek has it all wrong.

"We’re actors first, whether we’re playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King. Audiences come to theater to go on a journey. It’s a character and it’s called acting."

But on HLN's The Joy Behar Show, the article's author, Ramin Setoodeh, says Chenoweth and others took his article out of context.

SETOODEH: "The point of the article wasn't for me to personally come out and say gay actors can't play straight. It was an article examining why straight actors can play gay characters like the ones in Brokeback Mountain, but it is very rare for a gay actor to do the same in reverse."
BEHAR: "You were describing the situation rather than saying they shouldn't."


An opinion piece on Cinematical says the debate goes beyond the Newsweek article and whether it was interpreted correctly.

"Just because society is obsessed with dissecting sexuality doesn't mean that it should be. It certainly doesn't mean that Setoodeh needs to contribute to it."

With the Tony Awards just around the corner, Promises Promises is nominated for four honors including Best Actor.

 

Writer: Amanda Klohmann

Producer: Newsy Staff

Too Gay to Play Straight?

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May 12, 2010

Too Gay to Play Straight?

(Thumbnail Image: The New York Times)

 

A Newsweek writer sparked controversy by suggesting openly gay actors are unconvincing in straight roles. But did he have a point?

The article was prompted by a review of the revived Broadway hit, Promises Promises, starring Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth. Hayes is openly gay, yet plays the role of a straight bachelor crushing on Chenoweth's character. The Newsweek article says their on-stage relationship is a joke.

"While it's OK for straight actors to play gay ... it's rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse... an actor's background does affect how we see his or her performance."

Chenoweth wrote a rebuttal to Newsweek that quickly went viral and was republished in full by Perez Hilton. She says Newsweek has it all wrong.

"We’re actors first, whether we’re playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King. Audiences come to theater to go on a journey. It’s a character and it’s called acting."

But on HLN's The Joy Behar Show, the article's author, Ramin Setoodeh, says Chenoweth and others took his article out of context.

SETOODEH: "The point of the article wasn't for me to personally come out and say gay actors can't play straight. It was an article examining why straight actors can play gay characters like the ones in Brokeback Mountain, but it is very rare for a gay actor to do the same in reverse."
BEHAR: "You were describing the situation rather than saying they shouldn't."


An opinion piece on Cinematical says the debate goes beyond the Newsweek article and whether it was interpreted correctly.

"Just because society is obsessed with dissecting sexuality doesn't mean that it should be. It certainly doesn't mean that Setoodeh needs to contribute to it."

With the Tony Awards just around the corner, Promises Promises is nominated for four honors including Best Actor.

 

Writer: Amanda Klohmann

Producer: Newsy Staff

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