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Queery: Kelly Moss Southall

Kelly Moss Southall,The Dana Tai Soon Burgess, dance, gay news, Washington Blade

Kelly Moss Southall (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

When Kelly Moss Southall came to D.C. back in 2006, he started rather modestly.

The 31-year-old Chillicothe, Ohio resident had just finished college at Ohio University and came to the District to accept what was essentially a part-time position with the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company.

Though he would eventually get a master’s degree and teach dance at George Washington University as well as work a “day job” in real estate, the allure of joining Burgess was enough to get him here.

“I just kind of thought I should dance now while I can and the rest is really history,” the company’s associate artistic director says. “Dana has a real gift for seeing potential in people and honing in on other skills that might be useful, so I’ve been able to do a lot of things with costume design, lighting design and sets that’s overall felt very artistically satisfying.”

Tonight (Friday) and Saturday, the company will present “Four By Burgess,” at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) to celebrate its 22nd season. Tickets are $21-35. Visit for details. The company, which critics have called a “national dance treasure,” also has an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery through July. Visit for details.

Southall is in the midst of planning a wedding with his partner, Sergio Herrera. They live in Brookland with two cats and a dog and also run Scout Properties, a residential real estate company, together. Southall enjoys decorating, gardening, shopping, dancing and playing the piano and accordion in his free time.


How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out the summer between my senior year of high school and first year of college. The first person I told was my sister. We were driving home from a family event on the Fourth of July. In a way she was the hardest to tell, simply because she was the first, but her reaction was so supportive and joyful that any awkward feelings I had were quickly brushed aside.


Who’s your LGBT hero?

My good friend Terry Penrod. At a time when I was trying to figure out my future plans beyond college, it was great to have a friend/mentor who taught me about gay culture, history, dating and more.


What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights


Describe your dream wedding.

One that I don’t have to plan! Sergio and I have been planning our wedding since he proposed last June. There have been many variations but nothing is set as of yet. I want a private ceremony and a big party for friends and family. Sounds easy? Trust me, it’s not.


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

My top two are animal cruelty and research for non-fossil fuel energy sources.


What historical outcome would you change?

Temporal Prime Directive! I wouldn’t change any historical outcome.


What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

“Wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII is the first moment that comes to mind.


On what do you insist?

The house must be spotless before company arrives!


What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

A flier for our Kennedy Center performance this weekend.


If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“The Life & Times of Mr. Kelly”


If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

I would probably read about it on Facebook, think it’s a post by The Onion and continue scrolling down.


What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

After the lights go out, the show’s over, so make it count!


What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Keep up the amazing work!


What would you walk across hot coals for?

A cure for cancer, to save a member of my family from injury or death, if my friends dared me to or to see how it felt.


What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

None. Stereotypes exist because it is in our nature to identify, compare and categorize.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Oh there are so many! I’ll go with classics like “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” “The Birdcage,” “Flawless,” “Hedwig & the Angry Inch” and “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert.”


What’s the most overrated social custom?



What trophy or prize do you most covet?

A small collection of items from my mom’s father. He passed away before I was born, so I never had the opportunity to know him. I have two sets of cufflinks, a tie bar and his pearl-inlayed pocketknife.


What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Hard to say. I don’t have any regrets.


Why Washington?

After graduating from college in 2006, I went to Pittsburgh to audition for a dance company (I ended up not getting the job). While I was there I met Jan Tievsky, the board president for Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company. She noticed my potential and mentioned Dana’s company. When the company came back from its tour to Peru, Dana gave me a call and invited me down from Ohio to audition. After three days of dancing with the company, he offered me a position and I never left.

Kelly Moss Southall,The Dana Tai Soon Burgess, dance, gay news, Washington Blade

Kelly Moss Southall (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)


Bowen McCauley Dance returns to Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center, culture, gay news, Washington Blade, Bowen

The Kennedy Center (Photo by Steve via Wikimedia Commons)

Bowen McCauley Dance presents “An Evening to Love” at Kennedy Center Terrace Theater (2700 F St., N.W.) Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Italian dancer Mimmo Miccolis , who is openly gay, joined the company this season and performs in the production.

The performance pairs classical ballet with diverse musical scores including Stravinsky and country rock legends Jason and the Scorchers. Bowen McCauley Dance is a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Va., committed to introducing dance to people of all ages.

Tickets range from $40-45. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit


Joseph F. Vivalo, Jr. dies at 53

Joe Vivalo, obituary, gay news, Washington Blade

Joseph F. “Joe” Vivalo, Jr. in 1987.

Joseph F. “Joe” Vivalo, Jr., 53, a former resident of Washington and Arlington who was active in political and AIDS charity fundraising and events management, died in Key West, Fla., on Feb. 5.

His death was from suicide, according to Terry Michael, with whom Vivalo shared an apartment on Capitol Hill in 1986-87 and again in 1992-93. Vivalo, who was gay, worked as a waiter at Mr. Henry’s restaurant, Michael said, after moving to the District from Portland, Ore., in July 1986. Living in New York from 1988-92, he returned to Washington in November 1992, where he resided again on Capitol Hill and later in the Logan Circle area, before settling in Arlington. At the time of his death, Vivalo had been living and working at a guesthouse in Key West.

A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Vivalo was a director of the Pallotta TeamWorks AIDS Ride in Washington in the late 1990s and was director of the Whitman-Walker Health AIDS Walk in 2000, when he also produced a fundraising concert for Whitman-Walker at the Kennedy Center, featuring singer Patti LaBelle. He worked in several AIDS walks in Manhattan in the late 1980s.

Specializing in arts and entertainment fundraising, Vivalo was fundraising director for former U.S. Rep. and 1984 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, in her unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate in New York in 1992. He had served in the Mondale-Ferraro presidential campaign in Portland, Ore., in 1984, as a young field worker. He worked on the Clinton-Gore Inaugural Committee in Washington in 1992. And he was on the facilities management staff of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. in 2012. For a time, he ran a bike restoration business in Arlington.

Born Dec. 30, 1960 in Youngstown, Vivalo was a son of the late Joseph Vivalo and Marie Ann “Dolly” Vivalo, who survives, along with siblings Debbie, Jeff, John, Katie, Jacqueline, Michael and Kimberly. He is also survived by friends in the Washington area, including Walter Quetsch of Capitol Hill, at whose Fire Island cottage Vivalo was a frequent guest during the past two decades, and Washington attorney Jim Prunty, whom Vivalo met during his years in Portland.

Vivalo attended Ohio University, where he earned a degree in political communication. He was an active swimmer in high school and college. He had a passion for dance music and was a friend of the late San Francisco disco icon Sylvester James, “who visited Joe at our apartment on Capitol Hill in late 1987,” Michael said, noting that “Sylvester’s ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ and ‘You Are My Friend’ tracks became Joe’s signature songs.”

A memorial service for Vivalo was held in Youngstown Feb. 8.


Calendar: Feb. 14-20

Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, calendar, events, gay news, Washington Blade

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs a romantic-themed concert twice on Saturday. (Washington Blade file photo)

Calendar of D.C. LGBT events for the week ahead.

Friday, Feb. 14

The Barns at Wolf Trap (1635 Trap Rd., Vienna, Va.) presents “Love and Kisses, Swings and Misses, A Valentine’s Day Celebration” performed by D.C. jazz band Chaise Lounge tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. For details, visit

American University (4400 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.) hosts “Lavender Languages,” an academic conference on language use in LGBT life, today through Sunday.  Topics include the Sochi Olympics controversy, queer language and hip-hop, neoliberal homophobia, varieties of speech in the drag speech community and more. Tickets are $20-$30. For details, visit

Wellness, Alcohol and Violence Education Services (WAVES) at George Mason University (4400 University Dr., Fairfax, Va.) presents “The Vagina Monologues,” a play celebrating female sexuality, today and tomorrow at 8 p.m. in the Harris Theatre. Tickets are $25. For details, visit

BreakfastClub presents “Love is a Battlefield,” an ‘80s dance party, at 18th and U Duplex Diner (2004 18th St., N.W.) tonight from 9 p.m.-midnight. ‘80s costumes are encouraged.

Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) presents “A Very Kylie Valentine’s,” a dance party playing music by Kylie Minogue, tonight from 10 p.m.- 3 a.m. There is an open vodka bar from 10-11 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 15

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents “Passion” at Church of the Epiphany (1317 G St., N.W.) today at 3 and 8 p.m.  The chorus sings popular songs from Dolly Parton to Pink as well as songs from “Miss Saigon,” “La Traviata” and “The Marriage of Figaro.” Tickets range from $44-49. Tickets can be purchased online at gmcw.og.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton hosts a tax preparation fair at Washington Convention Center (801 Mt. Vernon Pl., N.W.) this morning from 10 a.m.-noon. Get help filling out a FAFSA form, receive housing and mortgage counseling, credit counseling and more. The fair is only for D.C. residents with income less than $52,000 a year whose earnings come from wages, salaries and pensions. Admission is free. For details, visit

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation at the Falls Church PetSmart (6100 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va.) at 11:45 a.m. You will be paired with a dog on a leash to walk around and play with. Wear casual clothes. For more information, visit

The Media Takeout Ball,” hosted by Treashay Khan and Shauna Balenciaga, is tonight at the Upscale Ballroom (3900 Bexley Rd.,) from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Dress up in costume to compete in various categories for trophies and money. Categories include “RuPaul or Nah?,” for best looking drag queen, best looking transman, best looking butch and more.

Lure D.C. presents “Bare I V’day Edition,” a Valentine’s ladies dance party, tonight at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Cover is $7 before midnight and $10 after. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit

Rainbow Youth Alliance hosts a Valentine’s Day dance tonight at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville (100 Welsh Park Dr., Rockville, Md.) tonight from 7-11 p.m. The dance is for LGBT youth and allies ages 12-18 and will be chaperoned by Rainbow Youth Alliance adults. For more details, visit

Sunday, Feb.16

Human Rights Campaign and Lure D.C. presents “Washington D.C. Her HRC” at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) tonight from 8 p.m.-midnight. The night features all female DJs playing old school music. For details, visit

WTF presents the 2014 HOMOlympics, an Olympics watch party with music, at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.). Doors open at 10 p.m. Admission is free before 11 p.m. and $5 after. Guests must be 21 and over. For details, visit

Monday, Feb. 17

Queer for Christ, a young-adult LGBT Christian group, hosts a February happy hour at Larry’s Lounge (1836 18th St., N.W.) today from 7-9 p.m. For details, visit

Us Helping Us  (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) holds a support group for gay black men to discuss topics that affect them, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit

Tuesday, Feb. 18

Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) hosts its weekly ”FUK!T Packing Party” from 7-9 p.m. tonight. For more details, visit

Whitman Walker holds free and confidential HIV testing at Crew Club (1321 14th St., N.W.) today from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. For details, visit

SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) hosts “Café SMYAL,” a fun event to get out of the cold, today from 4-5 p.m. Drink hot cocoa, play board games and make new friends. For more information, visit

Wednesday, Feb. 19

Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses selections from “Seminal: The Anthology of Canada’s Gay Male Poets” today at the American Foreign Service Association (2101 E St., N.W.) at 7 p.m. All are welcome. For details, visit

The Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project presents an organ showcase today in the Concert Hall  (2700 F St., N.W.) at 7 p.m. The showcase features students from various music schools all over the country. Admission is free. For details, visit

Thursday, Feb. 20

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts its monthly Poly Discussion Group at 7 p.m. People of all different stages are invited to discuss polyamory and other consensual non-monogamous relationships. This event is for new comers, established polyamorous relationships and open to all sexual orientations. For details, visit

SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) provides free and confidential HIV testing drop-in hours today from 3-5 p.m. For more information, visit


LuPone times two


Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, gay news, Washington Blade

Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. (Photo by Brigitte LaCombe; courtesy Kennedy Center)

Actress Patti LuPone makes two D.C. appearances this week.

First, she speaks with Michael Kahn for “Classic Conversations with Michael Kahn,” a discussion series between Kahn and a notable actor about classical theater, at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St., N.W.) Monday at 7:30 p.m. Then Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., LuPone joins her former “Evita” co-star Mandy Patinkin at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) for a reunion concert, “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin,” an engagement that runs through Feb. 23.

LuPone is a Tony Award-winning actress known for her roles in the Broadway shows “Evita,” “Gypsy” and “Sweeney Todd.” She has also made appearances on the television shows “Glee” and “Army Wives.”

Tickets for “Classic Conversations with Michael Kahn” start at $15. For more information, visit Tickets for “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin” range from $95-$150. For details, visit


‘Henry,’ ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Hair’

Olympia Dukakis, theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Actress Olympia Dukakis performs a reading of her one-woman show ‘Rose’ at the Strathmore March 13. (Photo courtesy Strathmore)

With so many new and familiar musicals, plays and performances busting out all over, spring is an especially busy time for D.C.-area theater. And many of the season’s hottest tickets are of special interest to LGBT audiences.

Signature Theatre is premiering a musical adaptation of “Beaches” (through March 30), based on the novel previously adapted for the big screen as the 1988 tearjerker starring Bette Miller and Barbara Hershey. Signature’s out artistic director Eric Schaeffer is staging the production. Broadway veterans Alysha Umphress and Mara Davi respectively play odd couple longtime friends Cee Cee and Bertie.

Also at Signature, out director Matthew Gardiner is staging a revival of the Berthold Brecht/Kurt Weill scathing musical critique of capitalism “Three Penny Opera” (April 22-June 1). The cast features Rick Hammerly (also gay) as scheming Lucy Brown, a part played memorably by Bea Arthur in the 1950s off-Broadway version.

WSC Avant Bard is currently presenting “Orlando” (thru March 23), playwright Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of Virgnia Woolf’s 1928 novel about a man who becomes a woman. Talented local actor Sara Barker plays the title role. Amber Jackson directs.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents “Von Trapped” (March 12-14). It’s a sure-to-be gay parody of “The sound of Music” featuring those familiar characters and beloved songs but with a twist. James Ellzy is the director/choreography.

Mark Twain Prize, gay news, Washington Blade

Lily Tomlin (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Comic icon Lily Tomlin comes to the Strathmore in Bethesda, Md., on March 28. In her live act, Tomlin, who recently married longtime partner Jane Wagner, uses her familiar roster of characters like Ernestine the telephone operator and precocious brat Edith Ann to hilariously comment on the human condition. Olympia Dukakis will perform a reading of her one-woman show “Rose,” which tells of a Jewish woman who has survived major events of the 20th century, at the Strathmore on March 13.

As part of its World Stages: International Theatre Festival, the Kennedy Center presents a staged reading of gay playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s “A Great Wilderness” on March 22, a story of an older man who has devoted his life to counseling teen boys not to be gay. About to retire, he takes one last client who forces him to confront his own demons.

The Keegan Theatre (located on Church Street, N.W., a half block walk from JR.’s Bar) presents “Hair” (March 15-April 12), the acclaimed ‘60s rock musical that celebrates youth, protest, free love, and, of course, hair. The show’s co-creators James Rado and Gerome Ragni shared an intimate relationship that inspired the show’s groundbreaking relaxed attitude toward sexuality.

The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s out artistic director Michael Kahn is staging both “Henry IV Part 1” (March 25-June 7) with Stacey Keach playing Falstaff, and the “Henry IV Part 2” (April 1-June 8) with local big talent Edward Gero in the title role.

Synetic Theatre is reviving its Helen Hayes Award-winning production of “Hamlet,” the first in its enormously successful Silent Shakespeare series, which relies on movement rather than words to tell the story. Out actor Alex Mills plays the gloomy Danish prince. It runs March 13-April 6.

Every April 12, parties are held throughout the world celebrating Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic 1961 first manned space flight. D.C.’s “Countdown to Yuri’s Night” (C2YN) offers an artistic spin on this high-science holiday by combining an art exhibition, a space-themed burlesque show, band performances and a dance party. Entertainers include New York-based burlesque star Mr. Gorgeous and out performer Patrick Doneghy. This year’s venue is the spanking new Anacostia Arts Center.

In May, gay director John Waters brings his one-man show “This Filthy World” (May 16) to the Birchmere in Alexandria. For just one performance, the Baltimore-based film legend will share insights on his journey from trash genre cult favorite to bankable Hollywood director.

Gay playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s “The Totalitarians” (June 2-29) makes its area premier in a production staged by out director Robert O’ Hara at Woolly Mammoth. Set against the backdrop of Nebraska-based political campaign, this high-energy farce pokes fun at the inanity of political language.

With “Jarman (all this maddening beauty),” force/collision pays tribute to Derek Jarman, the British avant-garde artist and filmmaker who died of an AIDS-related illness 20 years ago. A mash-up of video and live performance, “Jarman” is written by playwright Caridad Svich and will be directed and performed by the ensemble company’s out founding director John Moletress. First workshop performances are scheduled for April 17-27 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

Holly Twyford, celebrated local actor and now director who is gay, is staging Factory 449’sThe Amish Project” (April 17-May 11), playwright Jessica Dickey’s account of the tragic  Amish one-room schoolhouse shootings that took place in Nickel Mines, Pa., in 2006, and its effects on the community. The production will be mounted at the Anacostia Arts Center.

On April 21, it’s the annual Helen Hayes Awards, honoring outstanding work in professional local theater from 2013. The event will be held for the first time at the National Building Museum.

Over the last weekend in May, the D.C. Queer Theatre Festival marks its third annual celebration the underrepresented voices and diversity of queer artists. The festival features new plays with themes relevant to the D.C. area and local artists with roots in the community. It also aims to meld quality theater with activism and charity.

This spring, the Rainbow Theatre Project, D.C.’s new company committed to presenting LGBT-themed plays and musicals, continues its inaugural season with one night staged readings of  gay playwright Noel Coward’s “Long Island Sound (March 17), a comedy of bad manners featuring out actor Rick Hammerly; and “Yank!”(May 5), a musical about a gay romance during World War II to be staged by Hammerly, who must be among the hardest working local theater folks this spring.


‘Fire and Air’

Dustin Kimball, Junichi Fukada, Bowen McCauley Dance, gay news, Washington Blade

Dustin Kimball, left, and Junichi Fukada of Bowen McCauley Dance. (Photo by Jeff Malet; courtesy the company)

Washington Ballet, led by gay artistic director Septime Webre, is considered one the country’s finest ballet companies. This spring the company will put on several performances.

From March 5-9, the Ballet will perform “British Invasion: the Beatles and the Rolling Stones” at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater (2700 F St., N.W.). This three-piece production includes Trey McIntyre’s “A Day In the Life,” Christopher Bruce’s “Rooster” and “There Where She Loved.” Tickets start at $25 and are available at

From April 16-25, the company’s “Peter Pan” will take audiences on a highflying adventure to Neverland. This coming-of-age story is told through the vibrant and powerful dances choreographed by Webre. Tickets range from $25-125 and can be purchased at

And on April 23-25, for just three performances, the Washington Ballet will be presenting “Tour-de-Force,” a program that contains provocative and engaging classical and contemporary ballets. The centerpiece of the evening is George Balanchine’s “Themes and Variations,” which evokes the great period in classical dance where Russian Ballet flourished. Tickets are only available to subscribers and start at $35.

Bowen McCauley Dance performs at Atlas Intersections Festival today at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.E.). The performance will explore the environment’s influence in movement in “Afoot in Vienna” and “Fire and Air.” It also includes a re-imagination of Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” with a rare performance by Lucy Bowen McCauley herself. To purchase tickets, visit

The Atlas Intersections Festival ends Saturday. Intersections allows onlookers and artists to discover the collaborative energy of audiences and artists with eight days of boundary-crossing performances.

From April 1-6, the New York City Ballet performs Balanchine’s dazzling full-length piece “Jewels” at the Kennedy Center Opera House (2700 F St., N.W.). Tickets are on sale now and cost $25-95. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

On April 19 starting at 1 p.m., the gay-led Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company performs a new work at the National Portrait Gallery (8th and F streets, N.W.) where this company maintains its residency and performs regularly. It’s free.

Sean Dorsey Dance performs May 9-10 at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier, Md., with a work called “Secret History of Love,” which reveals the ways that LGBT individuals found love and happiness in decades past. This work by transgender dance director is packed with full throttle dancing, riveting storytelling and truly reveals the strength of the human heart. Tickets are $22.

On May 16-17, Jessica Lang Dance premieres a new work at the Kennedy Center along with the National Symphony Orchestra (2700 F St., N.W.). For tickets visit

Gay choreographer Kyle Abraham and his company Abraham.In.Motion will perform “Live: The Realest MC” on May 17-18 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.E.). Abraham, who was awarded a 2013 MacArthur Genius Award, has created a production that explores what it means to be a real boy a la Pinocchio. Tickets are $31.50 in advance or $35.50 at the door. Visit atlas for details.

The Bolshoi Ballet performst at the Kennedy Center May 20-25 with “Giselle,” a powerful piece that deals with betrayal, physical fragility and spiritual strength. Tickets are available by visiting

From June 9-20, gay-helmed Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company partners with Georgetown Day School to allow advanced and intermediate dancers in seventh through 11th grades to have one-on-one instruction with members of the company.

Dance Place (3225 8th St., N.E.) is always the center of dance activity in Washington with performances every weekend as well as dance classes for adults and children.

In radically different dance news, the Chippendales male dance revue — geared to straight women but, like Playgirl, long a gay guilty pleasure — performs March 27 at 9 p.m. at the Fillmore in Silver Spring (8656 Colesville Rd.). Tickets are $25-35 and available at

And D.C.’s trademark benefit circuit party Cherry is the weekend of April 4-6 with DJs Eddie Elias, Paulo, Alain Jackinsky, Joe Gauthreaux, TWiN and Mike Reimer at the various locations throughout the weekend such as Cobalt and Town. This year’s event is dubbed “Metamorphosis.” Visit for full details.


GMCW presents homage to Great White Way

Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, calendar, events, gay news, Washington Blade

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (Washington Blade file photo)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs “A Gay Man’s Guide to Broadway” with special guest Tony Award winner Laura Benanti at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2700 F St., N.W.) Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

The chorus and Benanti will perform songs from popular Broadway musicals including “Gypsy,” “Wicked,” “Kinky Boots!” and more.

Tickets range from $25-78. For details, visit


‘Velocity’ of D.C. theater

Sarah Marshall, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Sarah Marshall in ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane,’ one of several crackling family dramas produced in the Washington area this year. (Photo courtesy Round House)

The year in theater has been an intriguing blend of old and new.

Many works contained gay content or were written by gay playwrights and most productions benefited from the efforts of gay actors, directors and designers.

It’s also been a good year for the stirring family drama. The crop of memorable plays exploring dysfunctional relationships between parents and adult children was bigger and better than usual.

In the spring, Arena Stage presented the area premiere of gay playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s “Other Desert Cities,” a well-made play about an aging Republican power couple dealing with their liberal daughter’s soon-to-be-released tell-all autobiography. The production was compelling but uneven — the cast didn’t quite ring true as family.

Not the case with Arena’s “The Velocity of Autumn,” Eric Coble’s two-hander staged by Arena’s Molly Smith and beautifully acted by the enduringly vital Estelle Parsons as an elderly woman on the edge and Broadway vet Stephen Spinella as her estranged gay son who comes home to Brooklyn and saves the day. “Velocity” opens on Broadway in 2014 with Smith slated to direct the New York production (the local theater legend’s Broadway debut).

Round House Theatre explored family too with Bill Cain’s powerfully autobiographical “How to Write a New Book for the Bible.” In the touching drama, the playwright recounts many of the details of his 82-year-old mother’s death from liver cancer while also celebrating his life spent as the younger son in a mostly functional family. Out actor MaryBeth Wise gave a wonderfully nuanced performance as the practical and independent mother. The role called for her to age 40 years and she pulled it off brilliantly.

Round House’s family riff continued with Martin McDonagh’s “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” the dark tale of an isolated old Irish woman and her adult daughter who engage in an ongoing game of control with disastrous consequences. Sarah Marshall, who is gay, gave an admirably layered performance as the mostly immobile, but fiendishly domineering mother. The reliably terrific Kimberly Gilbert played the emotionally dependent daughter. The company’s most recent offering was “The Lyons,” gay playwright Nicky Silvers’ evisceration of a middle class family. Marcus Kyd played the damaged gay son.

In 2013, Shakespeare Theatre Company Artistic Director Michael Kahn shared his skills with the competition, directing “Torch Song Trilogy” at Studio Theatre, and “Pride in the Falls of Autry Mill” at Signature Theatre in Shirlington. Both shows are family dramedies rife with gay content. In “Torch Song,” New York-based actor Brandon Uranowitz triumphed as Arnold, the sharp-tongued, big hearted drag queen hell-bent on creating a happy family. “Pride” (penned by Paul Downs Colaizzo) featured a terrific cast including Christine Lahti as an unhappy suburban perfectionist and Anthony Bowden as her angry college-age gay son. Both shows boasted finely drawn performances.

At Signature last winter, Joe Calarco staged a production of “Shakespeare’s R&J,” an acclaimed all-male prep school-set take on “Romeo and Juliet” that he wrote and premiered in New York in the late ‘90s. Signature’s four man cast included talented out actors Alex Mills and Jefferson Farber.

In August, Slovenia’s Mladinsko Theatre performed its production of out playwright Norman Allen’s solo drama “Nijinsky’s Last Dance” at Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint. Allen’s play about the tortured ballet dancer premiered in D.C. in the late ‘90s.

And 15 years after Matthew Shepard’s death, Ford’s Theatre presented an anniversary production of gay playwright Moisés Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project,” an affecting ensemble piece that gives insight into the community’s response to the 1998 brutal murder of Shepard, a young gay man living in Laramie, Wyo. The production (directed by Matthew Gardiner, who is gay) received roundly positive notices despite being plagued with venue issues due to the government shutdown (Ford’s Theatre is operated through a public-private partnership between Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service).

Memorable 2013 musicals included a cracking national tour of gay composer Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” starring triple threat Rachel York at the Kennedy Center; “Fela,” a tour of the energized musical bio of legendary Nigerian pop star and political activist Fela Kuti staged by gay choreographer and director Bill Cunningham at Shakespeare Theatre Company; a tight reworking of “Miss Saigon” at Signature; and Studio 2nd Stage’s “The Rocky Horror Show” with Mitchell Jarvis as Dr. Frank’N’Furter. Also of note was the Broadway-bound “If/Then,” an engaging production that revitalized the National Theatre with its buzz and star power (Idina Menzel, LaChanze and Anthony Rapp).

In 2013, some openly gay actors dug deep for accents. As the aforementioned scary old woman in “Beauty Queen,” Sarah Marshall successfully tried on a very thick Irish brogue. Out actor Will Gartshore adopted a sexy French accent to play a worldly doctor unwittingly entangled in the drama of a group of romantically challenged Americans in “This” at Roundhouse. And Rick Hammerly went British with a charming performance as jovial Fezziwig in Ford’s “A Christmas Carol,” a sterling production of the Dickens’ December standard. Jeffrey Johnson reprised the tones of old school New York society for the revival of his cabaret act “Edie Beale Live at Reno Sweeney” at the intimate Café L’Enfant in Adams Morgan.

Holly Twyford kicked off the year playing the boss from hell in Studio’s superb production of Mark Bartlett’s “Contractions.” A celebrated local actor, Twyford (who is gay) finishes 2013 back at Studio directing British playwright Sam Holcroft’s “Edgar and Annabel.”  Studio describes the play as “a dark and cheeky look at what the future might hold, featuring undercover agents, surveillance algorithms and explosive karaoke.” Not a bad way to close the year.


Carter returns to Kennedy Center

Lynda Carter, gay news, Washington Blade

Lynda Carter was grand marshal at last year’s Capital Pride parade. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

“Wonder Woman” actress and LGBT rights supporter Lynda Carter returns to the Kennedy Center Saturday night.

Her Potomac Productions show “Lynda Carter: the Time of My Life” is billed as a new 90-minute cabaret show. She’ll be in her usual spot in the intimate Terrace Theater where she’s performed many times.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $25-65 and are available at