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Stars of Big Gay Musical dish on DVD release
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Stars of Big Gay Musical dish on DVD release

by Gary M. Kramer - SGN Contributing Writer

In The Big Gay Musical, now out on DVD, Paul (Daniel Robinson) and Eddie (Joey Dudding), two Gay theater actors, star in the Off-Broadway musical Adam and Steve: Just as God Made Them. The film depicts the characters' lives on stage and off as they grapple with issues of love and sex - and in Eddie's case, coming out. It is an auspicious big-screen debut for the Queer actors who have until now performed mostly on stage. Robinson appeared in Hairspray, while Dudding was cast in revivals for A Chorus Line and La Cage aux Folles.

If the story is typical backstage drama, and the musical within the film is an odd piece of theater - imagine a revival meeting featuring semi-naked Gay angels - The Big Gay Musical offers its leads an excellent showcase for their talents. The men perform a pas de deux in one of the film's highlights, and Robinson is sure to be remembered for his show-stopper of a tune entitled, "I Want to Be a Slut."

Paul, depressed after a breakup, gets liquored up and performs this number with gusto to an audience. "I am not a boozy guy, but I love show tunes - I play them at the gym," exclaims Robinson in a recent phone interviews, adding that he had real qualms about this sequence.

"That was the hardest day, my drunk scene," he recalls. "I've [acted drunk] on stage a lot, but to do it on film is completely different. On stage, you play to an audience that's farther away, and there's a comedic element to it. In the film, it was sad, and I had to sing a song drunk."

After the actor rose to this challenge, however, he was soon faced with another. "Filming simulated sex and pretending that you are enjoying it is hard," he says adamantly. He wondered aloud about what facial expressions he should make during his love scene with adult film actor Brent Corrigan.

Robinson admits that when he first read The Big Gay Musical, he turned the film down. "It was a little too over-the-top for me. I wasn't comfortable with the sex scene[s] and the nudity. It was too nude and Gay for me." Robinson, who has stripped on stage for Broadway Bares has never done a Gay show before, and this worried him.

"A huge reason why I didn't take the film in the first place was that I didn't want to be seen as a Gay actor. Big Gay Musical was like putting a tattoo on my body. I'm committing to this." Eventually, he decided the film was a good opportunity. Looking back on it now, he acknowledges that the sex scene "was harder to read than to do." He adds that the editing eased some of his fears about having his naked body exposed on film forever.

What is more, Robinson found playing two characters was also complicated. He demurs, "The stage [scenes] were more difficult than I thought because you had to pretend you were acting. It was easier for me to play the real world of Paul."

Dudding concurs, claiming he had difficulty creating simultaneous character arcs for Eddie and Adam, too. "I tried to portray [Eddie] as honestly as possible. I'm familiar with learning songs and choreography in a short period," Dudding says in a separate interview, "but the off-stage scenes were new territory." The actor thanks co-director Casper Andreas for keeping on him on track and helping him make the right choices in approaching his performance during the 17-day shoot.

Eddie is a naïve character - a Gay virgin, and not out to his parents. He is far removed from Dudding's personal experiences, and the actor liked being able to tap into his experiences growing up in Lynchburg, VA, where religious zealots shamed Gays with negativity. That said, the actor concedes, "I do not come from a very religious background, like Eddie does. My parents are very accepting of my life. No major drama when I came out. I can't relate to his virginity. I never had any reservations about sexuality."

Yet the performer did have concerns about his character's sexual activities on screen. In a dramatic moment, Eddie has unprotected sex with a man he meets in a bar. The way this scene is played caused Dudding some anxiety. "It's a serious scene, and that was a big thing for me to [play] - being overcome in the heat of the moment." He was relieved the scene didn't feature gratuitous nudity. Like Robinson, Dudding has also performed in Broadway Bares.

"It indulges your inner stripper," he jokes about the charity event.

If the actors were nervous about making the leap from stage to screen, they both handled it with considerable aplomb. They depended on each other and boosted each other's confidence during rehearsals.

"We were constantly coaching each other on set. We watched each other and flagged things like the overuse of arms," Robinson explains.

"There is no rivalry between us. We have a real friendship off screen," Dudding says with pride.

Now with the release of The Big Gay Musical, both actors are hoping to launch film careers.

For all the challenges, Robinson says making the film had an interesting benefit. "I didn't want to do it at first, but I'm happy I did it because it put me as an actor and an artist at a completely different level. It made me want to do more. I'm more confident, and [willing] to try more things. I put my balls to the wall. I danced, I sang, I did drama and comedy. This movie helped me find my passion and drive."

Dudding is equally motivated. "My ideal life would be to continue to do theatre and more film," he says, adding that his goals include working in Hollywood. "I'd like to do a romantic comedy and play someone funny. I keep getting cast as serious. I'm not that serious!" Except, perhaps, about acting.

© 2009 Gary M. Kramer

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