Arts preview: Glee’s Unique at Axis

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From the September 19, 2013 edition

When once asked in a national interview what type of character he would like to play on "Glee" if he was deemed the winner of "The Glee Project," a reality TV competition for a role on the show, Alex Newell answered "Kurtcedes," a hybrid of the out-and-proud Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and the sassy vocal powerhouse Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley).

If "Glee" has taught us anything it’s that dreams can come true. 

Although he came in as runner-up on "The Glee Project," Newell now plays student Wade "Unique" Adams on the show about life, quirks, show choir and slushies. The character is pretty much as close to Kurtcedes as the writers could get without actually naming him or her Kurtcedes. 

Newell, 21, had never performed in drag before his television appearances, but the art form has been one he has certainly grown into, giving "Glee" a whole new complicated dimension of acceptance to present to the general TV-watching public. 

A lot of responsibility comes with being one of the first representations on primetime of a boy in a dress, where the heels and lipstick aren’t the punchline. It is hard to have such a poignant role, Newell said.

“But you do the job as best as you can,” he added. “You try to know and be conscious of the people you represent.”

The two-part, Beatles-fueled “Glee” Season Five premiere is next Thursday. (The Cory Monteith tribute is slated for the third episode. “We’re taking our time with it,” Newell said of the cast’s handling of the actor’s death.) But Columbus has a chance to see Newell sing and do drag live at Axis for a Pink Anti-Bullying event this Saturday.

Newell’s bringing that booming voice alongside Axis’ favorite sons and drag mamas — Nina West, Virginia West, Alexis Stevens, Freesia Balls and Cool Ethan.