A new Atlanta theater sets the stage for more LGBTQ shows

Out Front Theatre Company will run ”The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” starting April 27
The Most Fabulous Story Ever
Out Front Theatre Company arrived last fall with an ambitious production of the Broadway musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Photograph by Brian Wallenberg

When Paul Conroy’s job as a public school performing arts teacher disappeared during the economic downturn, he decided—almost on a whim—to move from his hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts, to Atlanta. He found work in Atlanta-area theater—as artistic director of Newnan Theatre Company, a marketing assistant at the Alliance, and general manager of Serenbe Playhouse.

But when his theatergoing gay friends asked him to recommend new shows, his suggestions often fell flat. “They’d say, ‘That doesn’t sound like it speaks to us,’” Conroy says. It occurred to him that the city had an unmet demand for material that explored LGBTQ experiences.

The Most Fabulous Story Ever
Scenes from Out Front’s inaugural production, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Photograph by Brian Wallenberg

The Most Fabulous Story Ever

Photograph by Brian Wallenberg

Soon after, Conroy began to lay the groundwork for Out Front Theatre Company, which arrived last fall with an ambitious production of the Broadway musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. This month the company closes its three-show season with Paul Rudnick’s Old Testament re-do: The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told (April 27-May 14), in which Adam partners with Steve, not Eve. Although Rudnick’s comedy debuted in 1998, long before the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage, Conroy, who is gay, argues that the play remains vital. “I think it’s very relevant in a state like Georgia,” he says, which has some of the country’s weakest legal protections against LGBTQ discrimination.

In the coming years, Conroy plans to produce a mix of comedies, dramas, and musicals at Out Front’s Westside space, but he stresses that it is not a vanity playhouse. “I don’t like being the center of attention,” says the founder and producing artistic director. “I keep telling people, ‘If I get hit by a truck tomorrow, then the mission of the theater needs to be strong enough that it carries on because it’s not about me.’” He’s just the guy who had the nerve to follow his instincts.

The Most Fabulous Story Ever

Photograph by Brian Wallenberg

This article originally appeared in our April 2017 issue.

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