'Sister Dottie' wants to bring us together
Local radio personality Dottie Dixon is taking her message from the airwaves to the stage.
The 50-something Spanish Fork resident, a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the proud mother of a gay son and Relief Society member wants to share her testimony "by bringing Mormons and gays back together through direct action and creative casseroles."
Sister Dottie is the creation of Charles Lynn Frost, who co-wrote the one-character comedy, "The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon," which will be premiered May 1-May 17 by the Pygmalion Theatre Company.
"It's a comedy. A parody. It focuses on a lot the topical issues today that are facing the LGBT community and the Mormon church," Frost said. "She is working from the inside out trying to get change. "
Frost, who portrays Sister Dixon, developed the character for a KRCL 90.9 F.M. weekly half hour show three years ago. The station asked Frost to put together a comedic personality who would add commentary on a variety of current events, from activism to politics.
The character was so successful with listeners that after that radio spot ended, Sister Dixon was offered her own Friday show every Friday, and her popularity continued to grow. Currently, Sister Dixon has her own MySpace and Facebook pages, and some 2,000 friends.
Frost , and local activist Troy Williams, public affairs director of KRCL, wrote the character a play, in order to explore the struggles between Mormons and gays in a lighthearted way.
"Troy and I decided we needed to use comedy, humor and parody as a way to tell this story, too," Frost said. "Not everything that has to do with GLBT life has to be so tragic and so dramatic. Not all has to end up in sadness and death."
Williams, who is gay, hopes the play will spark conversations. "The Dottie character allows us, with humor and satire, to explore these difficult issues," Williams said. "I was ready for a new narrative."
The authors describe Dixon as "the voice of courage" who realizes she needs to stand up against authority to do what she feels is right. Frost, who was raised in Spanish Fork, said the character was inspired by his mother and her friends, and he's planning to dedicate the first performance to those women.
The play loosely follows the plotline of Joan of Arc's life. The audience watches as Sister Dottie grapples with her son, Donnie, as he comes out of the proverbial closet.
When it came time to casting Dixon, there was never any question that it would be played by Frost himself. Active in the arts most of life, Frost belongs to the Actors Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. One of his high-profile local roles was creating the character of the father in Plan-B Production's premiere of Carol Lynn Pearson's "Facing East."
Playing Sister Dottie, however, in the premiere production directed by Laurie Mecham, has been his most physically, emotional and mentally demanding role. "I hope this show, as far as relevance, lets people realize when it comes to making a person choose between their church and child --- there is no choice," said Frost, who was a married Mormon father when he came out as a gay man. "They have to pick their child. They have to love their child and make sure that their child knows that."
Mecham hopes Mormons dealing with gay issues will find the play healing. "When you laugh at the things that are painful, that is healing and cathartic," the director said.
"The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon" runs May 1 through May 17, Thursdays through Saturdays, and Sunday matinees.
Tickets are available through Arttix -- 355 ARTS. All shows are at the Rose Wagner Center for the Arts -- 158 W. Broadway SLC.
Listen to Dottie every Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. on KRCL 90.9 FM or streamed at KRCL.org