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STAYCATION: Treasures from the stage

Susan Lynskey and James Konicek in ‘THE BFG’ at Imagination Stage. (Photo by Margot Schulman)

Susan Lynskey and James Konicek in ‘THE BFG’ at Imagination Stage. (Photo by Margot Schulman)

No one ever said a staycation has to be without adventure, so why not include some theater in your plans? Theater is transporting, delivering you to far off places and unfamiliar situations. And the trip is easy. You can be at home sleeping in your own bed by 11 — even earlier if you attend a matinee. This summer’s selection is huge. Here are a few choices.

Studio 2ndStage is presenting “Carrie The Musical” (through Aug. 3) based on the Stephen King novel about a high school outcast who unleashes her telekinetic powers on the student body. They’re not going to laugh at her anymore. The best-selling book was adapted to the screen in ’76 as the hit horror flick starring Sissy Spacek in the title role. The musical opened on Broadway in 1988 to dismal reviews, but the 2012 off-Broadway revival was a stunning success. Its score by Dean Pitchford (lyrics) and Michael Gore (music) includes nicely named tunes like “And Eve Was Weak” and “The Destruction.”

2ndStage’s production co-directed by Keith Alan Baker and Jacob Janssen features Emily Zickler as Carrie White and Broadway’s Barbara Walsh as Carrie’s possessive, religious fanatic mother. Walsh was terrific as Little Edie in Studio Theatre’s production of “Grey Gardens” in 2008.

With well over a hundred shows in about a dozen local venues, Capital Fringe Festival 2014 (July 10-27) will definitely add variety to your D.C. summer staycation. On stage options (theater, music, dance, puppetry, etc.) run the gamut from inspiringly risky to not so great. The fun lies in ferreting out the gems.

Offerings include works of special interest to LGBT theatergoers including “A Lesbian Belle Tells!” written and presented by out performer Elizabeth McCain. In her solo show, McCain gives her take on eccentric southern relatives and coming out both in D.C. and at a family funeral.

In Larry E. Blossom’s “As We Are” presented by Out-Side the Box Theatre, three siblings confront memories about a gay bashing incident that has haunted them for years. Christopher Henley and his husband Jay Hardee co-direct “Dracula. A Love Story,” a contemporary retelling of the vampire story. And in Patrick DiBattista and Elizabeth Laffoon’s comedy “Love Song to Miss Kitty,” a strapping villain tries to steal a gay country western bar from an old lesbian couple so he can turn it into a dance boutique.

Looking for highbrow entertainment at no cost? For its annual Free For All, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is presenting a remount of Rebecca Taichman’s production of Shakespeare’s late romantic saga, “The Winter’s Tale” (August 19-31). A Washington tradition for 22 years, Free For All offers free tickets to the general public to experience Shakespeare in the sticky late summer. Performances once took place under the stars (weather permitting) at Carter Barron Amphitheater, but in recent years they’ve mercifully been moved indoors to the comfort of STC’s Sidney Harman Hall.

Spending your staycation with wee ones? Try the musical “Pinkalicious,” (thru Aug. 31) at the Adventure Theatre Musical Theater Center in Glen Echo Park. Siblings Pinkalicious and Peter Pinkerton (played by Carolyn Agan and John Sygar) love all things pink. Sadly Peter is denied pink outfits and toys because their father thinks it’s too girly. But Pinkalicious has no such restrictions. After binging on pink cupcakes she comes down with a case of pinkitis turning her skin — what else? — bright pink. The cure is to eat greens. Adventure Theater’s leafy Glen Echo location makes a nice staycation destination. After the show, you and the kids can enjoy ice cream and a ride on the park’s historic carousel.

Bethesda’s Imagination Stage is presenting “The BFG” (through Aug. 10). Based on the book by Roald Dahl, it’s the England-set tale of a little orphan girl who befriends a big friendly giant. The production uses outsized stage puppets, masks and imaginative projections and animation.

The Lion King” is parked at the Kennedy Center Opera House though Aug. 17. It’s the national tour of Julie Taymor’s celebrated Broadway production featuring an excellent cast, magnificent puppetry and uplifting score by Elton John and Tim Rice. Tickets aren’t cheap, but it’s a memorable theater experience for the family.

During staycation why not add music to your life? Through July 26, Shirlington’s Signature Theatre  presents its annual “Sizzlin’ Summer Nights Series.” (Sizzlin’ describes the performers, not Signature’s well air-conditioned venue). The series is two-and-a-half weeks of 17 one-night cabarets performed by an exciting and eclectic mix of D.C. and New York faces.

Many of those featured are out performers including leading man Will Gartshore; Broadway’s “Tarzan” Nicholas Rodriguez; Jeffrey Johnson as his leggy, space age alter ego “Galactica,” singer-songwriter Tom Goss (“Lover,” “Bears” and “Make Believe,”); Helen Hayes Award-winner Bobby Smith; and Stephen Gregory Smith who’s slated to perform a fun salute to TV theme songs.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington will perform “Like a Virgin,” sharing first-time experiences (ranging from funny to poignant) through story and song.

The series ends with “Revenge of the Understudies.” It’s time for those would be stars in the wings — Signature understudies from this year’s season — to step into the spotlight and sing their hearts out.



Galactica back with cabaret covers

Special Agent Galactica, Jeffrey Johnson, gay news, Washington Blade

Special Agent Galactica re-emerges this weekend as part of Signature Theatre’s Sizzling Summer Cabaret series. (Blade file photo courtesy Jeffrey Johnson)

Drag performer Special Agent Galactica performs with guitarist Peter Fields at Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) Saturday night at 9 p.m. as part of its Sizzlin’ Summer Series.

Special Agent Galactica will perform an eclectic range of music including jazz, blues and today’s rock and roll. In between the music, Galactica recounts her top-secret missions and stories as a hired assassin. Jeffrey Johnson, creator of Special Agent Galactica, has also performed as Edie Beale in “Edie Beale Live at Reno Sweeney.”

Tickets are $15. For more details, visit Another show in the series of high gay interest is “Early Barbra: Streisand in the ’60s,” Friday night (July 18) at 9 p.m. in which singer Colleen McHugh will explore the diva’s early work. More info at







Signature stages ‘Beaches’

Alysha Umphress, Mara Davi, Beaches, Signature Theatre, theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Alysha Umphress and Mara Davi in Signature’s ‘Beaches.’ (Photo by Chris Mueller; courtesy Signature Theatre)

Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) presents the stage revival of hit movie “Beaches” Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It runs through March. 23.

The play is based on the 1985 novel by Iris Rainer Dart and was later adapted into the popular 1988 movie (a gay favorite) starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. The production, which chronicles the friendship between two women, stars Mara Davi as Bertie White and Alysha Umphress as Cee Cee Bloom.

Tickets range from $29-$69. For more information, 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.


QUEERY: Joshua Morgan

Joshua Morgan, No Rules Theatre, gay news, Washington Blade

Joshua Morgan (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Joshua Morgan, an actor who’s been in the region for four years, has been named the first-ever executive director of No Rules Theatre Co., an outfit with dual headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Arlington, Va.

Board chair Violet Jacobson credits Morgan with a “major transition in the past year,” including a grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation that enabled the company to create the new position. It also moved in with Signature Theatre, raised significant amounts during a November campaign and kicked off a “terrific year of shows.”

“All [occurred] under the visionary leadership of Joshua,” she says. “No Rules Theatre Co. is poised for major success.”

Morgan, a University of North Carolina School of the Arts graduate, moved to Washington from New York and has performed at Woolly Mammoth, Signature, Arena and several other established companies in the D.C. area. As a director, he helmed sold-out productions of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” for No Rules in both North Carolina and Washington and received solid reviews for his work on Neil LaBute’s “Some Girl(s)” and Andrew Hinderaker’s “Suicide.”

Morgan was born in England and raised in Los Angeles and North Carolina. He’s in a relationship with Louis Phillips and lives in Eastern Market. He enjoys cooking, yoga and tennis in his free time.


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

I came out my freshman year of college. I think I had the most difficult time telling the rest of my acting class because we were so close and I had been lying to them for a while before coming out. I was embarrassed.


Who’s your LGBT hero?

John Cameron Mitchell

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

Ugh. I’m a morning person. So — Washington’s best morningspot? Tidal Basin.


Describe your dream wedding.

My best friend Farrell has planned three for me. One will be on an organic farm, one will be on a boat and one will be in a theater with a full show as part of the ceremony. Hopefully I don’t have three weddings.


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Eating well! We have been duped in America into eating crap and it’s slowly killing us. We have to fight for good food.


What historical outcome would you change?

Electing George W. Bush.


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

Kurt Cobain dying. I was young, but my whole family was very upset.


On what do you insist?

Don’t do business with me on Facebook!


What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I posted a picture of Louie and me in Rehoboth Beach.


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

“If you’re not behind, where are you? The Joshua Morgan Story”


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



What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I consider myself a spiritual person and definitely believe in the afterlife and reincarnation.


What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Use the younger generation to create change! They’re incredibly open minded and will shape the future of our community.


What would you walk across hot coals for?



What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

I’m not every girl’s pet.


What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“The First Wives Club.” That’s basically an LGBT movie at this point.


What’s the most overrated social custom? 

Why can’t I have my elbows on the table when I eat?


What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’m proud of the recognition from the Helen Hayes for No Rules as the outstanding emerging theatre company back in 2012. That meant a lot to me.


What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Start saving money!


Why Washington?

I love how embracing this arts community is. I think because the city is so transient, it’s open to new talent, which his very exciting for me and the young people I work with. It doesn’t hold on to preconceived notions as much, which I love.


Actor/singer Rodriguez to perform

Nicholas Rodriguez, gay news, Washington Blade

Nicholas Rodriguez (Photo courtesy of Rodriguez)

Singer Nicholas Rodriguez performs “The First Time…”  at Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) July 17 at 8 p.m.

The show features new interpretations of pop, jazz, folk and musical theater songs. Rodriguez, who is gay, has also appeared on “One Life to Live.” Singer Nova Y. Payton will also appear.

Tickets are $25. For more details, visit



Scaled-back ‘Saigon’

Miss Saigon, Signature Theatre, Diana Huey, Kim, Theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Diana Huey as Kim in ‘Miss Saigon’ at Signature Theatre. (Photo by Christopher Mueller; courtesy Signature)

‘Miss Saigon’
Through Sept. 29
Signature Theatre
4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington
tickets start at $40

When “Miss Saigon” ran on Broadway in the ‘90s, there was big buzz surrounding the production’s life-sized helicopter.

The audacious prop was used to recreate the iconic photo depicting the fall of Saigon in 1975 to the Viet Kong when hordes of terrified pro-American Vietnamese fought for spots on a few C.I.A. aircrafts taking off from rooftops. Those who were left behind knew they’d likely be executed. For Signature Theatre’s version, director Eric Schaeffer — in his typical paring down fashion — merely suggests a helicopter, retaining the suspenseful element while losing the impractical spectacle.

From the composers who gave the world “Les Miserables” (Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil), the hugely successful “Miss Saigon” is a hard driving, sung through, rock opera based on Puccini’s 1904 classic “Madama Butterfly.” Its eclectic, ballad-heavy score is served beautifully here by a talented cast and a stellar 15-person orchestra tucked away on a perch behind corrugated metal panels. Despite some cloying spots and clunky lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., the music works. Memorable tunes include “The Heat Is On,” “I Still Believe,” “Why God Why?” and “The American Dream.”

Signature’s Schaeffer (who is gay) has also halved the 40-person Broadway cast, allowing his take to focus more intimately on the musical’s love story: U.S. Marine Chris (likable Gannon O’Brien) temporarily rescues wide-eyed, Vietnamese bar-girl Kim (vocal powerhouse Diana Huey) from a life of prostitution. Saigon falls and Chris goes home to Atlanta where he marries. Unknown to Chris, Kim has given birth to their son. Kim does what she has to stay alive, driven by the desire to one day reunite as a family. Eventually, Chris and his wife travel to Vietnam to meet the boy. A happy ending for all is hard to imagine.

But the best scenes of Signature’s “Miss Saigon” take place in Saigon’s sleazy hooker bar Dreamland and (later) a similar joint in Bangkok. It’s in a dimly lit, alcohol-fueled Dreamland that war-weary Marines and desperate Vietnamese civilians come together against a backdrop of feverish partying. And it comes off splendidly in Signature’s not huge MAX Theatre.

Dreamland is the domain of the Engineer, a host/pimp played by the unctuous and terrifically entertaining Thom Sesma (who played the role in the show’s second national tour). He bullies a chorus of sexy bar girls led by experienced Gigi (Cheryl Daro). The eye-catching Daro makes a big impression singing “The Movie In My Mind,” a dream about a new life in America, but unfortunately her part essentially ends there. The rest of the cast includes Erin Driscoll as Ellen, Chris’ outwardly sedate spouse. Chris Sizemore is Chris’ Marine buddy who after the war works to reunite Vietnam-born Amerasian children with their American fathers. Christopher Mueller plays menacing Thuy, an unpleasant figure from Kim’s past.

“Miss Saigon” can be melodramatic and overwrought — it’s not for everyone. But Signature offers an opportunity to see it done particularly well.


Desperate housewife

Signature Theatre, Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill, Anthony Bowden, Christine Lahti

Christine Lahti as Carly and Anthony Bowden as her gay son Chad in ‘Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill.’ (Photo by Margot Schulman; courtesy Signature Theatre)

‘Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill’

Through Dec. 8

Signature Theatre

4200 Campbell Avenue, Arlington


Fat is bad.

Lower paying professions suck.

And gay is worst of all.

These are the cardinal and frequently spoken rules of Carly, the uptight matriarch in Paul Downs Colaizzo’s terrific new play “Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mills.”

Now premiering at Studio Theatre, the young playwright’s latest effort staged by out director Michael Kahn, exposes the underbelly of the American suburban dream, showing exactly what it is that makes a privileged yet essentially miserable family tick.

The Falls of Autrey Mill is a neighborhood — a grandly named nouveau riche enclave in an unnamed southern city. Colaizzo imagines a place rife with leafy cul-de-sacs where quietly desperate lives unfold behind Roman-columned facades. It’s here that casually bigoted Carly (stage and screen veteran Christine Lahti) perseveres to distance herself from her tacky working class roots, striving to be today’s June Cleaver with the picture-perfect family. But as her two sons Tommy and Chad (played by Christopher McFarland and Anthony Bowden, respectively) move into adulthood and her mostly absent husband Louie (Wayne Duvall) tires of keeping up with the Jones and looks for satisfaction elsewhere, Carly loses the grip on the illusion she’s worked so hard to create, and the results are chaotic.

“Pride” takes place over several days preceding a visit from a photographer who’s scheduled to snap the family’s portrait for the community newsletter. Carly has won best flower garden in the pricey hood and the triumph must be chronicled. It’s a big deal for Carly, but her family isn’t cooperating. Home from college, Chad announces to his mother that he’s gay and has a boyfriend. The older son Tommy tells her that he’s forgoing law school to manage a Chuck E. Cheese type restaurant, a job that he finds personally fulfilling. And her husband is showing signs of wanting to leave home altogether. The play is about how Carly and the family process these revelations.

Like their shoddily made but well-appointed home (compliments of scenic designer James Noone), Carly’s family is also falling apart behind its impressive exterior. She may appear all sugary sweetness and light, but just below the surface she’s tough as nails. Further down she’s extremely vulnerable. Darkly handsome Bowden’s Chad comes off impatient and angry, ostensibly irritated by his parents’ inability to accept his sexuality. But he too isn’t exactly what he seems. Beneath his brusque shell lies a needy, love-deprived, mixed-up adolescent.

McFarland is endearingly funny as the overweight and forever hungry Tommy, who awkwardly walks about foraging for food with his hands bound in big white mitten-like bandages (the result of freakish household accidents). He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s eager to connect with his parents, but he’s also careful to protect himself from their harsh judgment. And Duvall is perfect as the good ‘ol boy Louie stuck in a stale marriage.

From the moment the lights come up, you know exactly who Carly is. Lahti has taken the time to create a character not only with words but also her body and movements. She wrings the material for all its humor and pathos. It’s a commanding performance and a pleasure to watch.

But unlike so many icy WASP perfectionists (like the one Mary Tyler Moore played in the film “Ordinary People” for instance), Carly‘s heart isn’t entirely frozen. There might be hope for this family yet.

Following up “Torch Song” at Studio Theatre, “Pride” is director Kahn’s second local (and excellent) effort this season outside of his usual domain, the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Though very different, both plays explore family and being gay.

Last season at Signature, playwright Colaizzo garnered big attention with “Really Really,” his resoundingly praised take on complacent young adults living in New York. With “Pride” he further cements his reputation. Frequently funny, but also upsetting and at a couple points heartrendingly poignant, “Pride” proves a fully satisfying theatrical experience.


Seasonal staples

Elf: the Musical, gay news, Washington Blade, Kennedy Center, theater

A scene from ‘Elf: the Musical.’ (Photo courtesy the Kennedy Center)

Even if you’re fighting holiday “creep” and don’t want to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, it’s not too early to get tickets for your favorite holiday shows. Here are a few to consider.

The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet, gay news, theater,

A scene from Joffrey Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker.’ (Photo courtesy the Kennedy Center)

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) brings numerous holiday-themed performances throughout November and December. First, The Joffrey Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” Nov. 27-Dec. 1 in the Opera House. The holiday favorite includes a live orchestra, Victorian America scenery and costumes to accompany the dance. Tickets start from $29.

The Kennedy Center hosts Pro Musica Hebraica’s presentation “The Voice of the Clarinet in Jewish Classical Music: Alexander Fiterstein and Friends,” a Hanukkah concert that highlights the clarinet in Jewish art music, in the Terrace Theater on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start from $38.

Also at the Kennedy Center, “NSO Pops: Happy Holidays! with Brian Stokes Mitchell” brings Tony Award-winner Mitchell alongside the NSO Pops to perform a holiday medley Dec. 12-14. Tickets start from $20.

“Elf The Musical,” the stage musical born from the popular Hollywood film, runs Dec. 17- Jan. 5. in the Opera House at the Kennedy Center. The story follows an orphaned man raised by Santa Claus and elves on his journey to reconnect with his biological father in New York City. Tickets start from $60. Visit for details.

The 31st annual Christmas Revels present “Echoes of Thrace: Music, Dance and Drama of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey,” a blend of seasonal carols and Slavonic harmonies with traditional folk characters, at the George Washington Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.W.) Dec. 7-15. Tickets range from $27-$50.

Grammy-nominated artist Matisyahu brings his “Festival of Light” Hanukkah celebration to the 9:30 Club (815 V St., N.W.) Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Experience the classic Christmas tale “A Christmas Carol” in various ways around the area.

MetroStage (1201 North Royal St., Alexandria, Va.) presents “A Broadway Christmas Carol” Nov.21-Dec. 22. The show mixes the song parodies of Broadway show tunes with the classic Dickens’s story. Tickets are $50.

Ford's Theatre, theater, A Christmas Carol, gay news, Washington Blade

Ford’s Theatre’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ one of several adaptations of the Dickens’ classic that will be on regional stages in December. (Photo courtesy Ford’s)

A one-man show of  “A Christmas Carol” plays Nov. 29-Dec. 29 at Olney Theatre Center (2001 Olney Sandy Spring Rd., Olney, Md.). The holiday favorite stars Paul Morella performing the tale in Charles Dickens’ own words. Tickets range from $18-$36.

Ford’s Theatre presents “A Christmas Carol” through Jan 1. The production stars Washington stage actor Edward Gero as Ebenezer Scrooge. Tickets range from $40.80-$99.60.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge Street, N.W.), D.C.’s largest mostly LGBT church, has its annual Christmas concert “A Homecoming Holiday” Dec. 6-7 at 7:30 p.m. featuring the church’s own groups Eclectic Praise, Joyful Strings, Moving Spirit as well as the church’s two choirs. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at

D.C.’s Different Drummers has its “Holiday Prism Concert” featuring D.C. Swing! And the Capitol Pride Symphonic Band on Dec. 15. Tickets are $20 for aduots, $10 for seniors and free for children 12 and under. No further information is available now, but visit closer to the date for details.

The Birchmere and AM Productions team up to present “The Brian Setzer Orchestra ‘Christmas Rocks’ 10th Anniversary Tour” at The Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) on Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at or call 800-745-3000.

On Dec. 14 at 8 p.m., The Birchmere also presents “What Christmas Means Tour 2013: A Holiday Experience” with JEM & Friends with special guests Patti LaBelle and Ron Isley at DAR Constitution Hall (1776 D St., N.W.). Tickets can be purchased on or call 800-745-3000.

Rams Head On Stage (33 West St., Annapolis, Md.) presents many diverse holiday shows. First, enjoy the Scottish/Irish traditional instrumental and vocal styles during “Christmas with the Celts” featuring Laura McGhee and Michael Stribling on Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. The Celts’ Christmas show has been featured on PBS. Guests must be 21 and over. Tickets are $35.

Next, “Motown and More: A Holiday Celebration” on Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. showcases classic Motown tunes from singers such as The Temptations and The Supremes along with holiday favorites. Guests must be 21 and over. Tickets are $25.

Also, the 15th annual “An Annapolis Christmas” performance is Dec.16-17 at 7 p.m. Enjoy a mix of original and holiday songs performed by an array of local artists. Guests must be 21 and over. Tickets are $32.50.

“Christmas Gift!” runs at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (3800 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, Md.) Dec.13-14. The musical tells the story of the holiday gift exchange tradition in the African-American community. Tickets range from $10-$35. Purchase tickets at

The Washington Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” plays at The Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) Dec. 5-14. Tickets range from $42-$107. Purchase tickets at

Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) presents a couple Christmas-themed performances. Pianist/composer Matt Conner and his friends perform favorite Christmas tunes in “A Matt Conner Christmas” Dec. 11-15. Tickets are $48.60 and can be purchased at

Signature’s annual holiday celebration returns with “Holiday Follies 2013,”a Christmas concert featuring special guest performers, Dec. 17-23. Performers include Madeline Botteri and Austin Colby. Tickets are $48.60 and can be purchased at

Coyaba Dance Theater holds its annual Kwanzaa celebration at George Washington University’s Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre (800 21st St., N.W.) Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. Enjoy live music, dancing and singing in a performance for all ages. Tickets range from $15-$25 and can be purchased online at

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents “Sparkle, Jingle, Joy” at the Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.E.) Dec. 20-21. The performance features Grammy Award winner Matt Alber. Celebrate the holidays with classic holiday carols like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and new songs like “The Christmas Can-Can.” Tickets are $54 and can be purchased at

Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Rd., Vienna, Va.) presents its free annual holiday sing-a-long on Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. Choir and vocal groups from across the D.C. area will lead a sing along of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs. There is also a performance by the United States Marine Band. Voluntary donations for Toys for Tots will be accepted at the entrance. Wolf Trap gift certificates or an annual membership also make great gift ideas! Visit for the current schedule.

Town (20009 8th St., N.W.) presents “HEATWAVE: Back to the Beach Holiday Celebration” Dec. 5 from 7 p.m.-midnight. There will be musical performances from Ba’Naka and the cast from Town. Music and dancing provided by DJ Chord Bezerra. There will also be a best male and female holiday swimwear contest, drink specials, games and prizes and an underwear fashion show presented by Universal gear. Tickets are $10.

Lesbian gospel singer Jennifer Knapp returns to the region this year with her “Hymns of Christmas Tour” with Margaret Becker on Dec. 11 at Jammin’ Java (227 Maple Ave. E Vienna, Va.) at 8 p.m. Tickets are just $18. Visit for tickets.

Gay film director John Waters returns to the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) again this year for his “John Waters Christmas” on Dec. 18. Tickets are $49.50 for the 7:30 p.m. show. Visit for tickets.

Out saxophonist Dave Koz brings his “Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2013” to the Modell Performing Arts Center (The Lyric) in Baltimore (140 W. Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore) on Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler and Keiko Matsui will also appear. Prices vary and a VIP package is available. Visit or for details.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs “BSO: Holiday Cirque” at the Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md.) on Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. Listen to holiday favorites while watching a circus performance by Cirque Musica featuring strongmen, acrobats and contortionists. Tickets range from $31-86 and can be purchased at

Also at the Music Center at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic performs “Handel’s Messiah” Dec. 14-15. Messiah is one of the most frequently performed works in Western choral literature. A free pre-concert lecture will be held before each performance. Kids ages 7-17 are free. Tickets start at $28 and can be purchased at

Washington Concert Opera doesn’t have any holiday productions planned but is gearing up for its performance of “Il Corsaro” in March at the Lisner Auditorium. The classical music lover on your list would love tickets! Visit for details.


Calendar: Dec. 13

Sherri L. Edelen, Gypsy, gay news, Washington Blade

Sherri L. Edelen in ‘Gypsy,’ Signature Theatre’s new show that opens next week. (Photo by Christopher Mueller; courtesy Signature)

Friday, Dec. 13

The Olkiama Ministry of the Unity Fellowship Church of D.C. presents “Old School Dance: The Annual UFCDC Olkiama Party” at Charlie’s (7307 Georgia Ave., N.W.) tonight from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Tickets are $15. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. There will be a food and cash bar. For more information and to purchase tickets call 240-460-7265 or 202-285-9670.

Women in Their 20s, a social discussion group for lesbian, bisexual, transgender and all women interested in women, meets today at The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) from 8-9:30 p.m. Come meet other queer women in a fun and friendly setting. All welcome to join. For details, visit

Team D.C. hosts its annual holiday party at Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. There will be free food and happy hour drink specials. For details, visit

Khush D.C. hosts “Jalwa,” an LGBT Bollywood dance party, at Green Lantern (1335 Green Ct., N.W.) tonight from 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Come dance to Bollywood, Bhangra and other South Asian tunes played by DJ Geeta Jhaveri. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 before 11 p.m. and $15 after. For more information, visit

Saturday, Dec. 14

The Latino Queer Bilingual Writing Group hosts its monthly workshop at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) today from 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. The focus will be on memoirs. Open to writers of any genre and levels of experience to share creative work in Spanish or English. Workshop is free and no prior experience is necessary. For details, call 202-682-2245 or email

Black Cat (1811 14th St., N.W.) hosts “miX-MAS,” a Christmas mixtape party, tonight from 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Doors open at 10 p.m. Cover is $10. For more information, visit

Black Whiskey (1410 14th St., N.W.) hosts “Butch Queen: Holiday Edition” tonight at 10 p.m. Music is a mix of hip hop, Baltimore house, electronic and more. Admission is free. For details, visit

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) offers free and confidential HIV testing today from 4-7 p.m. For more details, visit

Sunday, Dec. 15

BMX (Black Men’s Xchange) hosts “A BMX-D.C. Holiday Fundraising Brunch” at Archstone First and M (1160 1st St., N.E.) on the first floor library lounge today from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The buffet style brunch is the first fundraiser for BMX-D.C. Tickets are $40. For more information, visit

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts its third annual “Holiday GUIL-TEA” party today from 3-8 p.m. There will be a holiday costume walk-off at 7 p.m. Winner receives a $50 gift certificate to Nellie’s. There is no cover. Admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For details, visit

Monday, Dec. 16

Adesola Osakalumi, star of the Broadway show “FELA!” will teach a master class in hip-hop at Princess Mhoon Dance Institute (932 Philadelphia Ave.) in Silver Spring with three other industry leaders today through Dec. 20. Some of the instructors are LGBT. Youth 5-18 are $299 for the full week of classes which run each night from 5-8 p.m. Adults can take “drop in” classes for $25 per class from 8:30-10 p.m. Register online at

Center Faith, an inter-faith network for the LGBT community, meets at the D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. The topic will be planning the next Capital Pride Interfaith Worship Service. There will be a brown bag dinner before the meeting at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit

The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W.) hosts Coffee and Conversation this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee while engaging in a discussion facilitated by Ron Swanda, a member of Mayor Vincent Gray’s Advisory Committee for LGBT Affairs, about what is important for older adults in town. For more information, visit

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

Tuesday, Dec. 17

D.C. Fukit, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

The Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) premieres “Gypsy,” a musical about famous burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee, tonight at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets range from $36.55-$79.10. The show runs through Jan. 26. For details, visit

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

Genderqueer D.C. holds a discussion group at The D.C. Center (2000 14th St., N.W..) from 7-8 p.m. tonight. The group is for anyone who identifies outside of the gender binary as bigender, agender, genderfluid or any label outside of cisgender. For more information, visit

Whitman-Walker hosts free HIV testing at Panam Supermarker (3552 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 7-9 p.m. For details, visir

Wednesday, Dec. 18

The Tom Davoren Social Bridge Club meets tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. No partner needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

Bookmen D.C., an informal men’s gay literature group, discusses three short stories: “Wunderkid,” The Jockey” and “Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland” by Carson McCullers, at 2101 E St., N.W tonight at 7:30 p.m. All are welcome. For details, visit

GLOV (Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence) hosts a holiday party on the second floor of Number Nine (1435 P St., N.W.) tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m. There is a $5 suggested donation at the door. For details, visit

Thursday, Dec. 19

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 newcomers, established polyamorous relationships and open to all sexual orientations. For details, visit

Women’s Leadership Institute hosts its weekly meeting for LGBT women and their allies tonight at SMYAL (410 7th St., S.E.) from 5-7 p.m. The meeting is for those ages 13-21 to discuss female sexuality, relationships and women’s rights. For more information, visit

SMYAL hosts free and confidential HIV testing today from 3-5 p.m. For details, visit

Jewmongous has its “Holiday Comedy Songfest” tonight at 8 p.m. at Iota Club & café (2832 Wilson Blvd.) in Arlington featuring singer Sean Altman’s “irreverent acoustic rock songs about his awakening Jewish awareness.” Tickets are $15. Visit or for details.