Hollywood notes: Groff returns to the stage, Knight returns to TV

When a gay white male playwright poses as an African-American female in order to pen a story about an alcoholic black mother, only to be discovered in that lie, the consequences aren’t going to be the stuff of fluffy musical theater. So when the non-musical drama The Submission opens Off Broadway this fall, audiences can expect to see a side of Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening/Glee) they might not have experienced before. The Tony nominee will be joined by True Blood star Rutina Wesley (as a woman who becomes involved in Groff’s hoax) as well as by Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie) as Groff’s boyfriend, with directing duties handled by Tony winner Walter Bobbie. So if you’re planning a New York theater trip this fall, put it at the top of your to-see list; serious drama — especially serious drama about touchy issues like race — never sticks around as long as the ones with catchy songs and cat costumes.

It’s been about two years since Grey’s Anatomy star T.R. Knight quit that show amidst conflict with fellow actor Isaiah Washington. He’s kept busy in the theater world in the meantime, including taking a starring role in the 2010 Broadway show A Life In The Theatre, opposite Patrick Stewart. But Hollywood called again, so now he’s coming back to work in front of the cameras on an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU. The episode in question — currently in production — finds Knight playing a suspected serial rapist, so that’s an interesting out-of-the-box step for the actor, a role worlds away from the nice-guy character he portrayed on Grey’s.  Maybe he can parlay it into meaty villain roles and become the next Joan Collins. There’s no airdate for the SVU episode just yet, so keep a close watch on your DVR.

Rocket Pictures, the movie producing arm of the empire run by Elton John (pictured), scored a solid hit with this spring’s Gnomeo & Juliet, an animated reworking of Romeo and Juliet featuring talking, singing garden gnomes. Filled to the brim with John’s classic hit singles, the film made almost $200 million worldwide. And because it’s a short leap from gnomes to trolls, that’s where Rocket’s going next. Will Gallows and the Snake-Bellied Troll, a mixed liveaction/CGI-animated feature based on the first in a series of kid-aimed books by author Derek Keilty, is already in production with Gnomeo’s writer/director Kelly Asbury. The story combines elements of Wild West cowboy adventure and, well, trolls from a fantasy universe. There’s no voice cast set up just yet, but it’s safe to expect that John will contribute in some way to the film’s score. No gay troll jokes please.

— Romeo San Vicente

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

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