Kevin Thornton
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Kevin Thornton

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"NUVO- Indianapolis"

by Marc Szewczyk

Kevin Thornton’s one-man, semi-autobiographical performance piece is a journey worth taking. Mixing stand-up, storytelling and original music, this 90-minute show traces the life of a Southern Indiana boy discovering his own homosexuality and trying to reconcile it with his strong religious beliefs. Thornton tested his stories at open mic nights before weaving them together into an evening of performance, and it shows. The stories are captivating and funny. Thornton’s comedic timing is spot on, and his delivery makes coyness engaging. Seemingly informal, the show is actually carefully constructed, with a satisfying arc. Music and dream vignettes tie the stories together. Thornton is a talented musician, and his new wave rock works well here. The dreams, campily introduced by chimes, find Thornton out to sea, dealing with a smart-aleck spider in a raspberry beret. Raw and frank about sex and religion, it’s also memorable and moving.


"Newcity Chicago"

by William Scott

Are there Chicago audiences for gay theater that isn’t easy to swallow? How about for one-man shows by gay performers that straddle the line of monologue, performance art and concert? The night I saw Kevin Thornton’s “Sex, Dreams and Self Control,” in town for only a fist-full of shows, the audience certainly was somewhere else. In all fairness, the 11:30pm start time on a Thursday evening may have had something to do with it, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen one man working in this genre threaten to outnumber the audience. In this case, it really is a shame. Thornton is engaging and funny and cute as hell as he recounts his journey from aspiring youth minister to rebellious homosexual with only himself, a microphone and a guitar. His web site compares him to a post-Smiths Morrissey, and in fact there are moments he opens his mouth to sing that you can hear it right away. The impressive versatility of voice shines brightest when he picks up the tempo, even when he is singing about handjobs after Bible study. There are a few more chances to catch Thornton this weekend at The BoHo Theatre at Heartland Studios. Gay audiences, this is our opportunity to prove we will support theater that doesn’t involve naked men, bars or Broadway in Chicago. (William Scott)

At BoHo Theatre at Heartland Studios, 7016 N. Glenwood , (866)811-4111, through May 9.

- Newcity

"Showbiz Chicago"

Michael J Roberts

Putting a ‘coming out’ story on stage is surely nothing new and the local theatre scene is replete with such artists telling the masses their trials and tribulations about growing up gay. However, there is a intimate brilliance about Kevin Thornton’s Sex, Dreams and Self Control that separates this story from the rest. In a tight and emotional ninety minute tour de force, Mr. Thornton weaves his mid-western coming of age story into a musical canvass of self discovery and strength.

Thornton, who is the front man for the band, Wave on Waves (turn on Logo anytime of day and you are sure to see their top 10 video), is an instantly likable artist who has a uncanny ability of instantly connecting with his audience. Using comedy intertwined with original music, Thornton takes the viewer on a journey of not only his self discovery, but by the end, giving the audience some questions to think about as well.

Thornton’s autobiographical piece is no holds bar and shows us how a sexual being develops and copes with his inner emotions and turmoil. From an adolescent boy screwing a female manikin to having a Pastor, whom is a mentor of sorts, make Thornton question his sexual feelings, we get a glimpse of how the littlest of events can become monumental life changing moments. Most touching of the story is the connection that Thornton has with fellow Indiana native, James Dean, as the screen icons loneliness is instantly relatable to our storyteller. There is a particularly touching monologue where Thornton goes to the grave site of Dean and tells him that he does not need his guidance any longer, as he has finally come to terms with who he is and the journey that he will embark on will be his own.

Kevin Thornton has phenomenal voice which he has perfect control over. Sometimes theatrical, sometimes rock with a little country twang inserted, it is the music of Sex, Dreams & Self Control that pushes the story forward and gives the show its emotional breath. What is also facilitating is how his guitar becomes almost another character in the show.

Sex, Dreams & Self Controlwill certainly win Mr. Thornton a whole new fan base, though I am not sure that the Boho Theatre is the right venue for this artist. Though his particular story is the self discovery of a gay youth, the premise is relatable to any sexual orientation, as small town, conservative, religious themes effect the psyche of all those who must come to terms with their own conflicts.

It is also a must see for adults, who should take away from this production that words matter, no matter how small and innocent a viral comment to a child maybe, the interpretation through a child’s brain can have serious unintentional repercussions.

Sex, Dreams & Sex Control runs April 23, 24, 25, 30, May 1,2,7,8 &9. Show times are 11:30pm at the BoHo Theatre, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago. For tickets and more information, please visit

- Showbiz Chicago

"Gaywired LA"

By Ken Knox | Article Date: 4/11/2009 4:30 AM

The Cavern Club Theater is one of those places that you're always surprised to learn about—despite the fact that it's always been just around the corner from you. Located in the basement of Casita del Campo, a popular Mexican restaurant located in the funky, arty Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Cavern Club hosts an array of underground theater ranging from performances by drag personalities Jackie Beat and the Boofant Sisters to original, gay-themed plays like the increasingly popular Chico's Angels, a gay Latin take on TV's Charlie's Angels that routinely plays to sold-out audiences. Seating only 62 people, the small, intimate black box space is the perfect venue for Kevin Thornton's one-man show Sex, Dreams and Self-Control, an exhilarating and revealing performance that showcases both Thornton's dry wit and his original songs.

Obviously inspired by the humorous musings of David Sedaris and the cabaret style of Sandra Bernhard, Thornton has created a show about his life told through monologue, spoken word and song. Detailing his experiences growing up gay in a religious family, Thornton recalls being groomed to become an evangelist preacher ("If you would like to instill delusional hunger for power in a child, put him in front of a bunch of people and encourage to tell them what God wants them to do—and they will believe you"), trying his hand at home-made porn as a teen ("We were the first in the neighborhood to have a video camera... so I did what any normal 12-year-old boy would do: I filmed myself jacking off"), his first sexual exerience with another boy (the song "After-Bible Study Handjobs" is a riot) and, eventually, coming to terms with his sexuality and coming out. Thornton covers such familiar territory with a wink and a nudge to the audience, telling his personal tales of woe with a spirited matter-of-factness that never feels fake or forced. Indeed, by eschewing self-pity for humorous reflection, he lifts the sometimes melodramatic material and makes it celebratory, capping off each section with a song that ties it all up. In the following clip, Thornton recalls his early-'20s crush on screen legend (and fellow Marion, IN native) James Dean...

Thornton was in fine voice and spirit last weekend, despite playing to admittedly less-than-capacity audiences. But lack of a strong turn-out has more to do with the fact that Thornton is a relative unknown in Los Angeles—he's a much bigger celebrity in Nashville, where he is known as the frontman for the New Wave pop group Waves On Waves. It certainly has nothing to do with the strength of the show, which will obviously benefit from playing to larger houses.

The show continues at the Cavern Club through April 12, after which it will move on to Chicago's BOHO Theater for three weekends. Whichever city you might be able to see it in, it makes for a very entertaining and poignant evening.


"LA Splash"

LA Splash Review
The Cavern Club Theatre is a jewel, nestled in the lower levels of Silver Lake’s Casita Del Campo. The forty seat performance space provides a supper club intimacy with only the occasional audible bustle from the restaurant above. Just as charming is the latest one-man performance entitled Sex, Dreams and Self-Control, featuring churchgoing, guitar strumming, affably disarming singer, songwriter Kevin Thornton.

Through song and anecdote, Thornton takes the audience back in time the small town of his youth, conservative Marion, Indiana. He recounts the moment in his childhood, where in the midst of secure in the routine of family dinners and predetermined television viewing, and where he experiences his first pre-pubescent pangs of sexuality. He takes us on a journey that describes how the variety series "Real People", Chippendales Dancers (a guess, though not named by name), a female mannequin and the internet all contributed to his sexual awakening; and all signs were leading him to the understanding that he was indeed gay.

Plagued with boy crushes and roommates from hell and general global angst about his life and where it should be leading, Thornton has a song for most every occasion. Armed with himself and a guitar, Thornton sings about wanting to know what these changes in his body and mind mean in songs like “Let there Be Light.” He describes how he succumbs to his carnal impulses in the song “Bible Study and Handjobs.” Finally, he wades through a sea of emotional indecision in the song “Hell and Back Again”.

Thornton’s performance was a really good one. Energetic and in good voice for the entire show, the singer’s story was a surprisingly upbeat one. Thornton’s musical recounts did not include the usual trauma associated with a coming out story. Our hero confronts a crisis of reconciling his religion with his sexuality and works or his internal struggles largely in solitude, embattles with his own deafening thoughts, and of course within his dreams. His was decidedly a coming of age story first, with a strong gay slant. The only thing this show truly lacks is eye contact with the audience. There was a missed opportunity in Thornton's retaining that fourth wall; the choice fights the organic intimacy of the venue. Unlike a theatrical stage piece where maintaining the illusion, and therefore the distance, is paramount, this show is confessional and personal and cries for audience engagement.

The music of the show was very much a nuanced companion to the narrative of Thornton’s story. Not overtly comic, the styles ranged from 50s Do-Wah to contemporary ballad to the simmering bass pulses of rock. Each number was in perfect concert with the context of the story arc without pandering for laughs or to the sentimentality of the moment. Thornton vocal performance was as varied as the songs themselves switching from southern sassy, to rich yet pleading falsetto quite reminiscent of a young Kenny Loggins.

Sex, Dreams and Self-Control offers a bit of everything for everyone. It is cleverly written, infused with great imagery and heart. The show is an affectionate stroll down memory lane to remind us of all the things we are trying t forget about the 1980s. Kevin Thornton relives the innocent and wonderment of a gay boy’s growing pain from the view of small town America.

Sex, Dreams and Self-Control makes its West Coast Premiere Engagement from April 3 thru 18th @:

- LA Splash

"Nashville Scene"

Martin Brady
On the other, minimalist end of the theatrical spectrum is Kevin Thornton's one-man show Sex, Dreams & Self-Control, which played to enthusiastic houses its first weekend at Bongo After Hours Theatre, and continues there Saturdays at 9 p.m. through Feb. 28.
Thornton is a well-known local vocalist, songwriter and actor, most notably as flamboyant frontman for bands Waves on Waves and Thornton. Here he gets more intimate, mixing storytelling and music to talk frankly about growing up gay and confused in the repressive environs of southern Indiana. Young Kevin, we learn, is an adventurer in training, getting turned on by hunky guys on television, exploring feelings about youth pastor John, even taping himself masturbating in the earlier days of home video.

College and the big-city lights of Muncie offer a way out. The new frontier of Internet dating leads to mind- (and body-) expanding escapades—and to crabs, which get a grossly detailed, darkly funny (and mercifully brief) discussion. Thornton intersperses his stylized, semi-autobiographical rap with colorful "dream scenarios" and well-crafted guitar ditties that often underscore his monologues.

Is it courageous or self-indulgent? Liberating or profane? The answer, basically, is yes. Even so, Thornton remains unquestionably an expressive and engaging performer, likable through all his pain, posturing and self-effacement. His Sex, Dreams evokes a great deal of honest laughter—and for some, perhaps even a sympathetic itch.

- Nashville Scene


Still working on that hot first release.



“Sex, Dreams, & Self Control!”, a fusion of music, spoken word, and standup comedy by openly gay singer Kevin Thornton, is like David Sedaris with a guitar on a “sexual and romantic odyssey” (EDGE Los Angeles). This new work, with an original alternative folk rock score in which Thornton croons like a young John Hiatt or a post- Smiths Morrissey, has been called both “courageous” and “darkly funny” by the Nashville Scene following the show’s recent world premiere. The Los Angeles Times chose this "exhilarating" (Gaywired) show as it's "Best Bet" during it's recent west coast run.

Fans of Thornton’s underground New Wave band Waves on Waves, which has been featured on MTV’s LOGO, might be surprised to learn of his extensive theatre background. Thornton holds a degree in theatre and has performed on the stage both stateside and abroad.

With so much free time on the road with his band, Thornton began sketching a semi autobiographical tale. “On tour, I had been reading a lot of Augusten Burroughs and listening to old Sandra Bernhard concerts,” say Thornton, “and the brilliance of those two definitely influenced me. I began to experiment with my short stories at open mics. Every time, the audience would just light up. I knew I was onto something,” said Thornton. “Eventually I had about an hour of material that was audience approved. I knew what was going to take it to the next level was original music, and that’s when it really clicked.”

This rites-of-passage tale, called “hilarious” by The Cincinnati Enquirer, presents itself as bold and racy, speaking loudly about sexuality and religion. “I made a concerted effort to make this story universal,” says Thornton. “But I approached the subject with respect. I never tell the audience how to feel.”

“Sex, Dreams, and Self Control!” might prove a challenge for some audiences, but, ultimately, Thornton says his goal is “to make people laugh, make them think, and move them all at the same time.”
Los Angeles Times "Best Bet"

"Darkly Funny" -Nashville Scene

"Intimate Brilliance... A Must See..." -Showbiz Chicago

"a riveting and rewarding experience" -Cincinnati CityBeat

"Funny and poignant... beautifully executed" -Frontiers Los Angeles

"Exhilarating" -Gaywired

"Hilarious"- Cincinnati Enquirer

"Infused with great imagery and heart... Really good" -LA Splash

"Thornton is engaging and funny and cute as Hell..." -Newcity Chicago

"Thornton's comedic timing is spot on" -NUVO Indianapolis

"Hilarious" -Unzipped

"A sexual and romantic odyssey" -EDGE Los Angeles

"Groundbreaking" -Out and About

"Striking a remarkably different chord... Wide reaching appeal" -Shepherd's Express Milwaukee

"Memorable and Moving" -NUVO Indianapolis