LA’s Outfest Hits the Right Chord with Musicals

By Kevin M. Thomas, @ReelKev

“Something Like Summer”

Outfest starts July 6 and there’s quite a variety of offerings in this 10 day LGBT Los Angeles film festival.

Musicals seem to be well represented. One might think most were inspired by the success of “La La Land,” but obviously these movies were well underway before that movie came out.

Something Like Summer” is an excellent example of the progressive use of musical interludes.

At its core, “Summer” is more a gay novella as it tells its story of an out teenager who crushes on the new kid in town. Will his infatuation turn to reality or will he just spend his youth being lonely, feeding off his unrequited love.

Grant Davis plays Ben Bradley, an awkward, geeky and proud young man. Davis, in his film debut, blends these attributes well as his lust for Davi Santos’ Tim grows. The two have a great chemistry, often enhanced by Davis desire for Santos.

Throw in the ever-appealing Ben Baur and a triangle is born. The movie is lush and beautifully shot as the movie transpires in a 12 year period, jumping back in time periods with clever use of movie subtitles. There’s also a handful of songs which sometimes are sung as a breakaway from the plot, letting us in on Davis’ inter-most



“Summer” screens July 15 at 11am at DGA 1.

Other musicals we’ve reported on before (during SF’s Frameline film festival) include “Hello Again,” an intriguing musical that also jumps around with time zones while having actors play two roles in different vignettes. Gay film favorite Cheyenne Jackson heads a very talented cast that also includes Audra McDonald, who not only is in fine voice, but sings the show’s one original song from this popular Off-Broadway hit. It screens July 11 at 9:45pm at DGA 1.

Writer/director Damon Cardasis makes us all hail to his “Saturday Church” which is an excellent mix of musical, coming out story and being bullied. Besides its inventive use of songs, this movie remains a standout as it hits home the theme that your “family” isn’t necessarily the one you’re born into but the one you create. Catch it July 8 at 9:30pm at DGA 1.

“The Ring Thing”

Becks” is a musical that features Tony winner Lena Hall, as a woman who moves back to her hometown to rid herself of complications yet when she falls for a local prominent in society things get a bit complicated, all set to a series of musical performances from Hall at the local bar. Think Jewel or Christina Perri meets Melissa Ethridge and you’ve got “Becks,” which screens Sunday, July 8 at 7pm at DGA 1.

Outfest has many other titles that are making their festival debut including “The Ring Thing,” from the creative team from the wonderful movie “That’s Not Us” (not to be confused with the TV series “This is Us.”)

“Ring” stars Sarah Wharton who was part of the “Us” ensemble. This time around, she plays a documentary filmmaker who is doing a piece on same sex marriage – yet she doesn’t seem to be able to commit to anyone herself. It doesn’t help that she accidentally proposes to her girlfriend, which is part comedy and part drama in of itself.

Director/co-writer William Sullivan does a wonderful job at juxtaposing what’s going in Sarah’s life with scenes from her documentary about the love stories she’s filming. Definitely a film to seek out. Get your first chance Saturday, July 15 at 2pm at DGA 1.

We covered a lot of other great titles during the Frameline Film Festival, including  “The Untold Story of Armistead Maupin,” ‘Signature Move,” “A Million Happy Nows,” “The Feels,” “After Louie,”  “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson,” “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall,” “Whitney. Can I Be Me?” and “The Fabulous Allan Carr.” See more details at

To learn more about Oufest, go to