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‘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.


Side effects

Yaz Ortiz, Elliot Ortiz, Water by the Spoonful, Studio Theatre, theater, gay news, Washington Blade, side effects

Yaz Ortiz, left, as Gisela, and Elliot Ortiz as Arturo in Studio’s production of ‘Water by the Spoonful.’ (Photo by Teddy Wolff; courtesy Studio)

‘Water by the Spoonful’

Through April 13

Studio Theatre

1501 14th St., N.W.



Young Iraq war veteran Elliot Ortiz, the complicated protagonist in Quiara Alegría Hudes’ “Water by the Spoonful” is a character of many contradictions.

An aspiring actor with a national toothpaste commercial under his belt, he works unhappily at a Subway sandwich shop in Philadelphia. He loves his large, extended Puerto Rican family, yet harbors an intense resentment against his biological mother. And while he’s mostly recovered from a serious physical war injury, he suffers from serious PTSD. But despite this uneasy existence, Elliot soldiers on; he’s a survivor.

Now making its regional premier at Studio Theatre, Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is the second part of a trilogy centered on Elliot’s coming of age and transition into adulthood. It casts a broad net, tackling all the big themes — family, relationships, addiction and death — but the most meaningful aspect of the play is the exploration of the relationship between understandably unforgiving Elliiot (Arturo Soria) and his recovering crack addict mother Odessa (Gabriela Fernandez Coffey) who neglected her children when using (the play’s title is a reference to Odessa’s most egregious offense). While past behavior has rendered her a failed mother with her son, Odessa is a beloved maternal presence among her online family — she moderates a recovery chat room under the screen name Haikumom.

The offstage death of Elliot’s surrogate mother (and Odessa’s sister) serves to spike the tension between mother and son. Elliot savages his mother, comparing her unfavorably to her sainted community activist sister. He admits to intentionally pushing to put his mother’s sobriety at risk.

The play’s busy subplots involve members of Haikumom’s recovery chat room. The first follows the relationship between Orangutan (Amy Kim Waschke), a feisty young Asian woman, and the older African-American Chutes&Ladders (Vincent J. Brown), as it develops from virtual to in-person. She longs for human contact and real life experiences while he’d be happy to maintain a predictable distance. The second follows the struggle of a wealthy white addict screen named Fountainhead (Tim Getman), and how his unlikely friendship with low income clean domestic worker Odessa allows him to move forward in recovery.

There’s a lot happening in this play. It can be predictable and occasionally trite. But its moments of searing personal revelation along with its humor, humanity and compassion help make up for the script’s shortcomings.

Arturo Soria’s Elliot is ostensibly upbeat but there’s anger simmering just below the surface. Though often clowning, he proves ultimately introspective. It’s a memorable performance. In 2012, the Chicago-based actor created the part of streetwise gay Latino Tano in the world premiere of the Stonewall riots-themed work, Hit the Wall” at the Steppenwolf Garage Theatre.

The production is strikingly designed by a team of Studio regulars led by director KJ Sanchez. Dan Conway’s battered deconstructed set, with its rough stairway to nowhere, is populated by a clawed-foot tub, an old Formica kitchen table and randomly placed mismatched chairs. It’s a distressed but flexible tableau and the actors, with the help of Michael Giannitti’s lighting design, transport the action to many places, such as a train station in Japan and a perch high in the Puerto Rican rainforest.

Throughout his turbulent journey, Elliot is moored to calm by his supportive cousin Yazmin (Gisel Chípe), an adjunct music professor who was the first in the family to go to college. Her expectations are high. It’s Yazmin who asks Elliot to forgive his mother for the things she did while using, reminding him of Odessa’s essential goodness. Whether he can do this is uncertain.


Calendar: April 4-10

calendar, gay news, Washington Blade

Director Tom Story, center, with actors David Nate Goldman and Allie Villareal in ‘Moth’ at Studio Theatre. (Photo by Igor Dmitry; courtesy Studio)

D.C.-area LGBT events calendar for the week ahead.

Friday, April 4

The Sugarloaf Crafts Festival begins at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds (16 Chestnut St., Gaithersburg, Md.) today from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Sunday.  Purchase jewelry, home décor, fine arts and much more made from American craftsmen. A few craftsmen will also be doing live demonstrations in jewelry making, hand carving and furniture making. Admission is $8 online and $10 at the door. For more details, visit

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. There is no cover charge and admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For more information, visit

Charm City Fetish Fair begins today at Doubletree Hilton BWI (890 Elkridge Landing Rd., Linthicum Heights, Md.) at 5 p.m. and goes through Sunday. There will be a meet and greet, parties and workshops led by experts on the fetish lifestyle. For more information, visit

Bishop Allyson Abrams and Empowerment Liberation Cathedral launch an affirming fellowship service at Church of the Ascension (633 Sligo Ave., Silver Spring, Md.) tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. All are welcome. For more details, visit

Saturday, April 5

D.C. MeetMarket, an outdoor community market, begins on the corner of 15th and P St. N.W. today from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Over 40 local vendors will be selling goods including Baked and Wired, Twisted Aristocrat and more. The market’s goal is to help support the city’s small businesses and creative community. There will be live music by American Hearts, Light Arms and DJ Vanniety Kills. There will also be an interactive photo booth and free raffle.

Lesbian singer Lisa Moscatiello and singer Chris Noyes perform together for “We are Takoma Park,” a concert at the Takoma Park Municipal Building (7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park, Md.) tonight at 7:30 p.m. The performance includes Celtic ballads, contemporary folk, country and more. For more information, email or call 301-891-7266.

Code Redux presents “CODE All Colors,” a BDSM party, at the Crucible (16 M St., N.E.) from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Fetish dress code required. This is a membership-only event. Walk-ins will not be accepted. Online membership is available. For more information and to join, visit

Sunday, April 6

Queer for Christ, a Christian LGBT group, attends “Evensong/Evensocial,” a 20s/30s meet up group, at National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) today at 4 p.m. For more information, visit

Guitarist Charles Mokotoff performs Latin American melodies at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church (9601 Cedar Ln., Bethesda, Md.) today at 4 p.m.  For more details, visit

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Sunday Drag Brunch” today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For more details, visit

Victory Fund holds is “National Champagne Brunch” today from11 a.m.-2 p.m. Special guests include Maine gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, Massachusetts attorney general candidate Maura Healey and Washington D.C. City Councilmember David Catania. Tickets are $250. For more details, visit

Monday, April 7

Opera on Tap D.C. Metro perform at Vendetta Bocce Bar and Tavern (1212 H St., N.E.) tonight from 7-9:30 p.m. Local opera singers Colin Michael Brush, Melissa Chavez, Aaron Halevy and more will be performing. There will be $1 sliders all night long with a 2 drink minimum. There will also be $4 Prosecco and Peroni and $5 house wine. There is a $5 suggested cover. For more information, visit

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. 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, share perspectives and have meaningful conversations. For details, visit

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts poker night tonight at 8 p.m. Win prizes. Free to play. For more information, visit

Tuesday, April 8

GLOV hosts a happy hour reception at MOVA Lounge (2204 14th St., N.W.) tonight from 5:30-8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and supports GLOV, which aims to reduce violence against LGBT individuals and to assist victims of anti-LGBT violence. For more details, visit

JQ Baltimore, a Jewish LGBT outreach and support group, hosts Seder at Waxter Center (1000 Cathedral St., Mt. Vernon, Md.) tonight at 6:30 p.m. The Seder will be conducted by Rabbi Gila Ruskin and a kosher dairy dinner with traditional Passover foods will be served. Tickets are $12. For more details, email or call 443.300.8996.

Wednesday, April 9

The Lambda Bridge Club hosts duplicate bridge at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) at 7:30 p.m. tonight. No reservations needed and new comers welcome. If you need a partner, call 703-407-6540.

Big Gay Book Group meets at 1155 F St., N.W. Suite 200 tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss “The Towers of Trebizond” by Roe Macaulay. This comedy tells the story of what it means to be a Christian in the modern world with a wacky group of characters including spies a Greek sorcerer and a deranged camel. For more information email

“Moth” begins its run at the Studio Theatre (1501 14th St., N.W.) tonight at 8 p.m. “Moth” tells the story of an anime-obsessed boy and his emo-Wiccan friend whose friendship is changed forever when Sebastian is forced on an apocalyptic mission after a horrific event at his high school. Tickets are $30.The play runs through May 4. For more details, visit

Thursday, April 10

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers for Food and Friends (219 Riggs Rd., N.E.) tonight from 6-8 p.m. Volunteers will chop vegetables and pack groceries. To volunteer, email For more details, visit

Rude Boi Entertainment hosts “Tempted 2 Touch,” a ladies dance party, at the Fab Lounge (2022 Florida Ave., N.W.) Doors open at 10 p.m. Drink specials $5 and vodka shots $3 all night. No cover charge. Admission limited to guests 21 and over. For more details, visit



‘Moth’ to the flame

David Nate Goldman, Allie Villarreal, Moth, Studio Theatre, gay news, Washington Blade

David Nate Goldman and Allie Villarreal in ‘Moth’ at Studio 2ndStage. (Photo by Igor Dmitry; courtesy Studio)


Through May 4

Studio 2ndStage

1501 14th St., N.W.



In conceiving “Moth,” gay Australian playwright Declan Greene knew his upsetting but darkly funny drama’s characters would be a pair of unlikable “über nerds.” Plot details would come later.

His memorable creations are Sebastian and Claryssa, each other’s only friend and the outcasts of their sophomore class. He’s hygienically challenged and anime-obsessed; she’s overweight and an emo-Wiccan. Not sure-fire ingredients for suburban teen popularity. Yet, despite holding a special place in rigid high school hierarchy, they aren’t kids you hear much about — at least not until after something bad happens.

That something bad does happen. It takes place at night on a flood light-lit playing field. What’s more, the assault is recorded by the pair’s tormentors and posted on social media. Sebastian and Claryssa react to the traumatic episode in different ways: she falls into a deep depression that she likens to hiding in a cave; whereas he flips out and very publicly becomes a wild-eyed, apocalyptic messenger. Increasingly, things go from bad to worse.

“Moth” is currently making its U.S. premiere at Studio 2ndstage. This perfectly paced, ably executed production also marks the directorial debut of out actor Tom Story. David Nate Goldman and Allie Villarreal play Sebastian and Claryssa.

Before a bank of beige lockers, the friends tell their story, divvying up the parts of their loathsome classmates, silly teachers and irritating parents. Sebastian and Claryssa’s relationship is based on trading insults. That and each one’s need to cling to someone in a world where neither fit. He’s stinky, picks his nose and enjoys tracing cartoon characters. Claryssa is tough, scathingly articulate and willing to fight with words and fists. To the notion that high school is the best years of her life, she responds, “Bullshit.”

In the face of the ultimate bully embodied in white trash classmate Clinton, Sebastian laughs off the smacks and insults while Claryssa tries to protect her friend. But when things get particularly intense, each sells the other out as self-preservation trumps all.

With its many locations and shifts in time, “Moth” is tricky to direct effectively, but Story with the help of a top-notch design team succeeds admirably. Colin K. Bills’ lighting, Mimi d’Autremont’s projection and James Bigbee Garver’s sound create atmospheres from the mundane to the fantastic. Brandee Mathies’ costumes are spot on high school.

A longtime D.C. actor, Story has played myriad classical and contemporary parts including terrific turns as effete artist Andy Warhol in 2ndStage’s “Pop!” and as an alleged child killer in Studio’s production of “The Pillowman.” He elicits compelling performances from his talented young actors Goldman and Villarreal. They come across as if they’ve been friends forever. Their baldly critical exchanges that lead into punches and playful wrestling feel entirely true life.

Some two-person plays leave you wishing for another character to enter, but not this one. It’s strongly character driven and never boring. Still in his 20s, playwright Greene brilliantly forms his characters’ oddly insulated world. His unfiltered dialogue (fat, faggot, retard, and that is but a mild sampling) never sounds stilted. And when Sebastian clings insanely to a moth in a jar or wishes for a field force, it seems perfectly reasonable. Of course, with the obstacles he’s facing, its’ no wonder.

“Moth” takes us into the world and minds of these misfit adolescents whose otherness leads them into dangerous places. It’s a fascinating and sometimes scary place.


Drag und drang

Brandon Uranowitz, Arnold, Torch Song Trilogy, Harvey Firestein, gay news, Washington Blade

Brandon Uranowitz as Arnold in ‘Torch Song Trilogy.’ (Photo by Teddy Wolff; courtesy Studio Theatre)

‘Torch Song Trilogy’

Studio Theatre

1501 14th Street, N.W.



It’s a notion to which many gay men can relate.

“He’s a bitchy queen — totally jaded, yet also a wide-eyed romantic. And above, he’s a survivor.”

That’s how Brandon Uranowitz describes Arnold Beckoff, the indomitable drag queen he plays in Studio Theatre’s current production of “Torch Song Trilogy.” Penned by raspy-voiced gay icon Harvey Fierstein, the bittersweet comedy chronicles Arnold’s intrepid search for love in New York City’s gay bars and determination to create family of own making despite the odds.

“One morning my agent called and asked if I knew the play,” says Uranowitz, 27. “Of course, I had. Most every gay actor has read ‘Torch Song.’ And once they have, it really resonates. Then my agent said he was submitting me for the lead, Arnold. I was thrilled.”

“Going in, my attitude was even if I don’t book the job, being able to work on the material even for a short time with director Michael Kahn [Shakespeare Theatre Company’s gay artistic director on loan to Studio] is a gift in itself. So that night I re-read the play alone in my apartment in New York City, laughing and sobbing — all very Arnold. I just needed to be eating a pint of ice cream to perfect the scenario.”

But Uranowitz almost didn’t get the audition much less the job. The show’s casting agent thought his head shot looked much too young. Arnold isn’t old, but he’s a character with gravitas, and apparently Uranowitz’s strong presence and acting chops weren’t coming through in the photo. Undeterred, his agent persevered and Uranowitz was finally permitted to show his stuff.

“The audition went well — really well,” he says. “Michael [Kahn] gave me a call back. At the call back he gave me the part. That’s a very unusual and wonderful thing, and may never happen again.”

“Torch Song” is comprised of three very different mini-plays in which Arnold’s skin thickens as he grows from needy, back room-cruising single to determined gay parent. Along the way he loses his heart to a mixed-up bisexual, settles down with a younger guy and battles his disapproving Jewish mother all while making  a living doing drag in downtown Manhattan.

For the tough scenes between Arnold and Ma (played here by Gordana Rashovich), Uranowitz says he taps into the misgivings that most gay people experience when they’re contemplating coming out.

“My own coming out process was pretty smooth,” he says. “My parents have always been supportive, but even in the optimum circumstances it’s never an easy thing.”

“What is easy,” he quickly adds, “is working with Michael [Kahn]. To be in the room with someone who is so smart and who personally relates to the play has been an astounding, magical experience.”

At 6 years old, Uranowitz started after-school acting classes. Growing up in New Jersey just outside of New York City, he saw a lot of Broadway. His favorites were “Tommy,” “Crazy for You” and Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” After graduating from NYU’s acting program, Uranowitz rapidly began his professional career. He’s best known for his work in the Broadway musical “Baby It’s You!” and for playing Mark in the national touring company of “Rent.”

“Torch Song” is the New York-based actor’s first time playing a gay character.

“I feel on some level I’m making a difference. They’re feeling something. When this show opened on Broadway in the early ‘80s, it was a little shocking in its frank portrayal of gay life. Now it’s not. People can concentrate on the universality of the relationships.”

It’s also Uranowitz’s first foray into drag (Arnold’s style is a heavily painted Joan Crawford circa “Mildred Pierce”), and he’s liking it: “I’m a huge fan of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and I’m really thrilled to dress up like a woman.

“And for now I’m riding the wave of the show,” says Uranowitz. “It’s all wonderfully surreal. Of course, I’ll be completely depressed when it’s over and I have no new jobs lined up. But that’s the wonderful life of an actor.”


Best of Gay D.C. 2013: Community

Foundry United Methodist Church, Best of Gay D.C., Best Place of Worship, gay news, Washington Blade

Foundry United Methodist Church (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best house of worship:

Foundry United Methodist Church

1500 16th St., N.W.


Runner-up: Bet Mishpachah


Miss Pixies, Best of Gay D.C., Best Home Furnishings, gay news, Washington Blade

Miss Pixie’s (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best home furnishings:

Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot

1629 14th St., N.W.


Runner-up: Room & Board


Best property management:

Coldwell Banker Mid-Atlantic

6031 University Blvd. Suite 140

Ellicott City, MD

Runner-up: Bozzuto Group


Best hotel:

The W

515 15th St., N.W.


Runner-up: Carlyle Suites Hotel


Best of Gay D.C., Best Art Gallery, Corcoran Gallery of Art, gay news, Washington Blade

Corcoran Gallery of Art (Photo by Kmf164; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Best art gallery:

Corcoran Gallery of Art

500 17th St., N.W.


Runner-up: The Phillips Collection


Whitman-Walker Health, Don Blanchon, Best of Gay D.C., Best Non-Profit, gay news, Washington Blade

Whitman-Walker Health (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best non-profit:

Whitman-Walker Health

1701 14th St., N.W.


Runner-up: SMYAL


Logan 14 Aveda (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Logan 14 Aveda (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best salon/spa:

Logan 14 Salon Spa — Aveda Hair & Body

1314 14th St., N.W.


Runner-up: Aura Spa/Bang Salon


Universal Gear, Best of Gay D.C., Best Men's Clothing, gay news, Washington Blade

Universal Gear (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best men’s clothing:

Universal Gear

1529 14th St., N.W.


Runner-up: H&M


Best women’s clothing:

Proud Threads

Runner-up: Buffalo Exchange


VIDA Fitness (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

VIDA Fitness (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best gym:

Vida Fitness

Multiple locations

Runner-up: Results


Kennedy Center (Photo by Steve; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Kennedy Center (Photo by Steve; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Best theater:

Kennedy Center

2700 F St., N.W.


Runner-up: Studio Theatre


Rocky Horror, theater, Studio Theatre, Best of Gay D.C., Best Theater Production, gay news, Washington Blade

Rocky Horror (Photo by Igor Dmitri; courtesy of Studio Theatre)

Best theater production:

“Rocky Horror” at Studio Theatre

Runner-up: “Book of Mormon” at Kennedy Center


Stonewall Kickball's 21 Amendments (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Stonewall Kickball’s 21 Amendments (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best LGBT sports team:

Stonewall Kickball’s 21st Amendments

Runner-up: D.C. Front Runners


Flowers on Fourteenth, Best of Gay D.C., Best LGBT-Owned Business, gay news, Washington Blade

Flowers on Fourteenth (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Best LGBT-owned business:

Flowers on 14th

1718a 14th St., N.W.

Runner-up: Grassroots Gourmet


Best comedy club:

D.C. Improv Comedy Club

1140 Connecticut Ave., N.W.


Runner-up: Washington Improv Theater


Dos Locos, Rehoboth, Delaware, Best of Gay D.C., Best Rehoboth Business, gay news, Washington Blade

Dos Locos (Photo courtesy of Dos Locos)

Best Rehoboth business:

Dos Locos

208 Rehoboth Ave.

Rehoboth Beach, Del.


Runner-up: Blue Moon


Best LGBT social group:

Burgundy Crescent Volunteers

Runner-up: Nice Jewish Boys


Staying on script

Edgar & Anabel, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Emily Kester, theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh as Nick and Emily Kester as Marianne in ‘Edgar & Anabel.’ (Photo by Igor Dmitry; courtesy Studio)

‘Edgar & Annabel’
Through Jan. 5
Studio 2ndstage
1501 14th Street, N.W.

Sure, lots of theater remains relevant over time, but typically a play doesn’t become increasingly topical in the years following its publication. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happened with young British dramatist Sam Holcroft’s “Edgar & Annabel.”

When her Orwellian comedy thriller premiered in London in 2011, the Edward Snowden N.S.A. leak hadn’t happened and western audiences felt removed from the notion of an oppressive government monitoring their every move. But today, for Studio 2ndStage’s post-Snowden audiences, it’s more relatable.

Holcroft imagines a contemporary-looking America where government surveillance is the norm. Big Brother is always listening and things are getting worse. People can be thrown into jail for telling an anti-government joke. Elections are approaching and the ruling party is predicted to win handily. Stakes are high. The minority, freedom-seeking opposition desperately needs to make some gains.

The plot turns on the relationship of young rebel operatives Marianne (the excellent Emily Kester) and Nick (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh) who stay under the radar disguised as conservative married professionals Edgar and Annabel. Like everywhere, the house where they live is bugged and what’s said is analyzed by a government computer. To maintain innocuous continuity, every afternoon Marianne and Nick are supplied a new script from Miller (Lisa Hodsoll), their cool-but-zealous handler. So evening after evening, they speak their banal domestic dialogue dutifully while anxiously awaiting orders from organization higher-ups on when to assemble the bombs whose makings are stashed beneath the floor boards of their white IKEA kitchen.

Acclaimed local actor Holly Twyford (who is gay) is new to directing, but you wouldn’t know it here. She has staged the production (a U.S. premiere) with a sure hand. At 95 minutes, the well-acted piece moves briskly without losing any of the comic bits or the more disturbing aspects of the play. The design team is assured too, from Debra Booth’s purposefully plain set to costume designer Kelsey Hunt’s pretty dresses and beige pumps for Annabel.

Living under constant aural surveillance can prove tricky, but the operatives learn ways around it. When assembling explosives, they use what’s available to drown out suspicious noises — an electric carving knife and the hand held vacuum work nicely. But for a really big job, it’s home karaoke. Most memorably, the couple engages is an evening of karaoke and bomb building with guests and fellow operatives Tara and Marc (Lauren E. Banks and Jacob Yeh). This longish scene is a tour de force of blocking (kudos Ms. Twyford) and concentration on the part of the talented and diverse cast.

What’s more, it’s during a karaoke duet (“Total Eclipse of the Heart”) that Marianne and Nick’s relationship noticeably begins to shift. I’ll stop there. No spoilers.

Holcroft’s play is about acting too. Because the protagonists must do a cold script reading every evening, there’s lots of opportunity for frustration and humor as they perform for the overhead government bugs hidden in the smoke detectors. Characters can be replaced without warning. Going off script is taboo. Sometimes props aren’t available — in one instance, their script calls for wine but they’re out, prompting Ebrahimzadeh’s Nick to impressively mimic the uncorking the bottle and pouring of its contents.

“Edgar & Annabel” kicks off Studio 2ndStage’s “British Invasion,” a showcase of notable plays by British playwrights under 40. Upcoming entrees include “Tribes” by Nina Rains and Mike Bartlett’s “Cock,” intriguing-sounding works to look forward to in the new year.


Last-minute madness

last-minute gifts, holiday gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade, Christmas

Incense and incense holder at Tranquil Space. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

To both de-stress and pick up a last-minute gift, stop by Tranquil Space (1632 17th Street N.W., to look through a variety of incenses and candles that aim to promote peace and calm.  Most popular is the myInsens gift set for $18, which comes complete with 24 rose incense sticks, one stick holder and a travel box.


For the art appreciator in your life, head to Gallery 2000 Art and Frame (1529 17th St. N.W.). Quick gifts to pick up include assorted prints for $7 and vintage framed prints for $45-$50.


Pulp, last-minute gifts, gay news, Washington Blade, holiday gift guide, Christmas

Cigar tins at Pulp. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay novelty gift staple Pulp (1803 14th Street N.W.), never fails to deliver one-of-a-kind gifts. Easy items to pick up include multi-purpose tins for all sorts of use from condoms to recipes. Prices depend on size and range from $6.95-$17.95.


Also nifty to pick up are various coffee table/activity books like “Pin the Mr. on the Man” and “Keep Calm and Crossword On.” Prices range from $10-$30.


Head over to Dupont Circle and stop by Tabletop D.C. (1608 20th Street N.W.).  Think Homegoods but better and in the District. At Tabletop D.C., last-minute gifts include an assortment of patterned and graphic totes for $18, wine bags for $12 or chic toiletry bags for $26.


Last-minute gifts, holiday gift guide, gay news, Washington Blade, Santa Claus, Christmas

Chocolate Moose offers a wide variety of novelty items and ornaments. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Between Farragut North and Dupont is another last-minute gift spot called Chocolate Moose (743 L St. N.W.). Pick up some classic gifts like an Etch-a-Sketch for $20 or an Ouija Board for $27. Other gifts include a solar-powered waving Queen Elizabeth for $18 or tons of pretty ornaments from $10-$20.


If your recipient is more of fine arts kind-of person, then stop by Studio Theatre (1501 14th St. N.W.) and purchase a gift certificate in any amount of your choosing for your theater goer.  You can either have it mailed directly to your special someone or pick it up at Studio Theatre’s location.


Or if your fine arts fan is more of a movie buff, then get him or her a subscription to IndieFlix, basically Netflix but with all independent films. For $49 they’ll receive a one-year subscription to the service with unlimited streaming access to more than 4,000 films.


If you’re really pressed for time, then gift cards are probably your best option.  Head over to Logan Circle and stop by Universal Gear (1529B 14th St. N.W.), which offers gift cards starting at $25. During this holiday season, gift cards are 25 percent off, so be sure to take advantage of this deal while it lasts.


Or swing by Logan Tavern  (1423 P St. N.W.) which also offers gift cards that are good for all five Eat Well D.C. restaurants (The Pig, The Heights, Grillfish, Commissary and Logan Tavern). You can put any amount you want on the card and for $2 have them shipped directly to your recipient.


Right around the corner from Logan Tavern is Vida-owned hair salon and spa, Bang (1519 15th St NW). They, too, offer gift cards, which are good for all three of its locations.


For D.C. suburbanites, visit gay-owned-and-operated, Bloom Fresh Flowers (625 South Washington St., Alexandria), which is stocked with only the best floral supply.  Creative arrangements range from $59.95-$229.95 and can be delivered all throughout the D.C. Metropolitan area.


Closer to the Maryland suburbs is Cleveland Park’s Wake Up Little Suzie (3409 Connecticut Ave. N.W.). There you’ll find eye-catching and trendy items like “pop clox” (unique clocks with pop culture sensibility) for $50. Or on the more affordable side are the adorable Muffin Tops Baking Cups for $13.95 or charming owl dishes available in several different sizes and priced between $12.50-$23.


panda bear, National Zoo, Last-minute gifts, holiday gift guide, Christmas, gay news, Washington Blade

The National Zoo has several gift options. (Photo courtesy of the National Zoo)

The National Zoo has several gift ideas such as a Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) membership that provides a year of benefits and includes everything from free parking to members-only access to the pandas. Several membership levels are available starting at $50. Visit for details. It’s also possible to adopt an endangered species — packages come with a plush toy of the species in a custom carrier, a certificate, photo and fact sheet. Various packages are available starting at $40. Visit for details.


For the live music lover on your list, nothing triggers memories of all those great concert nights at the 9:30 Club like its cool official merch. Available on site, its staff has everything from signature cupcake ornaments ($10) to pet collars ($15) with the nationally famous club’s logo on them. Also available online at


Nashville Grizzlies, rugby, gay news, Washington Blade, holiday gift guide, last-minute gifts, Christmas

The Nashville Grizzlies. (Photo courtesy of the Nashville Grizzlies)

Yes, it’s getting a little late to order stuff online, but calendars always make great gifts and the Nashville Grizzlies RFC rugby club is raising money to attend the international gay rugby tournament next year in Sydney, Australia. Order one online for $20 at


American Plant (5272 River Road, Suite 550, Bethesda) has Saxon Chocolates, a collection of delectable chocolates and confections that have made Belgium synonymous with fine gourmet chocolates. The shop also has an online catalogue with a wide array of cute garden, holiday and décor-type gifts. Visit for details.


Queery: Matthew DeLorenzo

Matthew Delorenzo, Studio Theatre, Rocky Horror Picture Show, gay news, Washington Blade

Matthew DeLorenzo (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The last time actor Matthew DeLorenzo played a woman, he had great success. In the Studio Theatre production of the Warhol-themed show “Pop!” two summers ago, he made his regional debut as Candy Darling and won a Helen Hayes Award.

Now he’s playing Little Nell in Richard O’Brien’s “The Rocky Horror Show” (also at Studio) and enjoying another hit run. The show’s been extended into mid-August.

He says the show is going extremely well.

“The cast has really embraced letting loose and being crazy and wild and enjoying the fun of it,” the 23-year-old Princeton, N.J., native says. “We’re happy the fans are allowing us to make it our own.”

Those who only know the cult film version should expect an “energetic, fun rock-n’-roll musical that’s kinky,” DeLorenzo says. He guesses about half the cast and crew are LGBT. Studio is at 1501 14th St., N.W. Visit for tickets, show times and more information.

DeLorenzo started getting acting and singing jobs while he was still in college and has performed at several regional performance spaces such as Wolf Trap, the Kennedy Center and more. He performs full time and is “happy I can work at it.”

He’s single, lives in Arlington and enjoys spending time with family and friends in his free time.


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

I came out around freshman year of college, first to my childhood best friend. I think I’d say she was the hardest because she was the first person I had the conversation with.


Who’s your LGBT hero?

Though there are greater activists out there who are doing incredible work, I have to give a shout out to one of my favorites and top of my playlists: Katy Perry. I’m a huge fan and supporter of the Trevor Project and she’s been a supportive ally working with them for years and was awarded the Trevor Hero Award.


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

See, this is where I feel totally lame and fail to have a favorite “hot spot.” My friends would be able to answer that one much better than me. I don’t go out as much as they would like me to, but when we do we have a blast. Also, they can pick out some mean places to brunch.


Describe your dream wedding.

How long can I talk about this one? In short, it’s fanciful, charming, romantic, with a balance of tradition and sweet fun. Everyone who I’ve ever shared a laugh, hug or dream with will be invited to what I hope will be one of the best days of my life!


What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Violence. Though it does happen in the LGBTQ community, it happens everywhere and I think it’s a horrible trait in humanity.


What historical outcome would you change?

Lincoln’s assassination. All-time favorite president and incredibly interesting. I wonder what else he could have done for our future.


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

I was recently reminiscing with some of the “Rocky” cast about the Spice Girls era. Now that was a great time in pop culture. Why did Ginger ever leave?


On what do you insist?

It’s OK to ask for help, you are worth it.


What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

I think it was “TGIF” with probably a bunch of emoji’s including the dancing girls and an ice cream cone. Love those.


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

“Candy Coated: a Boy Living Off of Sweet Dreams”


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

I think that’d be interesting, but not on my to-do list. There are way bigger issues out there for people to work on changing.


What do you believe in beyond the physical world?

I do believe in God, and have been raised with a faithful mindset. However, I don’t hold prejudice or believe there is a set religion, rules or specific rights to any kind of faith. I’m very into the “Your God is my God” belief. To each his own.


What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

It’s not about judging, it’s about educating. Keep reminding the LGBTQ youth that they are as valuable as anyone else.


What would you walk across hot coals for?

Depends on how hot. If it’d be torturous, I’d do anything for my family. But if it’s just a little hot, then I’d totally be down to walk across for a good cupcake.


What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

I think the labeling of someone’s sexual orientation annoys me the most. The stereotype that gays are a novelty friend group. Everyone has a personality, value, emotion and deserves respect regardless of sexual orientation.


What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

Can I swap that question for a TV show? I love me some “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Jumped on the bandwagon, I know.


What’s the most overrated social custom?

Greetings with a handshake. I’m a hugger.


What trophy or prize do you most covet?

This is going to be terribly sappy, but a child.


What do you wish you’d known at 18?

Drama is so overrated.


Why Washington?

In a way, it’s home! I have an awesome life here filled with family, friends and an incredible start to my career. Can’t match it anywhere else, yet!


Calendar through August 8

Geometrics, art, gay news, Washington Blade

Geometrics’ by Paul McCutchen, on display this summer at Touchstone Gallery. (Image courtesy Touchstone)

Friday, Aug. 2

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts a trans support group this evening from 7-8:15 p.m. For more information, visit

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts Bear Happy Hour tonight from 6-11 p.m. There is no cover charge and admission is limited to guests 21 and over. For details, visit

Gay District, a community-based organization that builds understanding of gay culture and personal identity, meets from 8:30-9:30 p.m. at the D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.). The group specifically promotes awareness of community events and civil rights for LGBT men ages 18-35. For more information, visit or

Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) hosts its monthly “So, You Think You’re a Drag Queen?” contest tonight to find the region’s newest drag talent. Doors open at 10 p.m., and the competition starts at 10:30. Cover is $5 from 10-11 and $10 after 11 for guests 21 and over, and $10 all night for guests 18-20. For details, visit

Delta Elite (10 St., N.E.) hosts ladies night tonight from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. For more details, visit

Studio Theatre (1501 14th St., N.W.) presents “The Rocky Horror Show,” directed by Keith Alan Baker and Alan Paul, at 8 p.m. tonight. The production has been extended through Aug. 11 and will include shows at 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission ranges from $40-45. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Saturday, Aug. 3

Phase 1 of Dupont (1415 22nd St., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Booty Beach Ladies Dance Party.” The winner of the party’s bikini and board shorts contest will receive cash and prizes. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $5. Visit for more information.

Burgundy Crescent Volunteers, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today at Chesapeake Pride (4150 Honeysuckle Dr.) near Annapolis from noon-6 p.m. Volunteers will help at the front gate, sell wine and beer and help direct traffic into the parking lot. Visit for more information.

Sunday, Aug. 4

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) hosts karaoke tonight from 9 p.m.-midnight. Cover is $3 and there will also be pool, video gaming systems and cards. For more information, visit

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts its weekly Drag Brunch with Shi-Queeta Lee today at 11 a.m. The buffet is $24, including one free mimosa. For more information, visit

Perry’s (1811 Columbia Rd., N.W.) hosts its weekly Sunday Drag Brunch today from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The cost is $24.95 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. For details, visit

Monday, Aug. 5

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., N.W.) hosts coffee drop-in hours this morning from 10 a.m.-noon for the senior LGBT community. Older LGBT adults can come and enjoy complimentary coffee and conversation with other community members. For more information, visit

Nellie’s Sports Bar (900 U St., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Golden Girls Watch Party” tonight from 5 p.m.-midnight featuring $5 drink specials inspired by the Golden Girls characters. Visit for details.

The Fort Reno Summer Music Series continue tonight at Fort Reno Park (Chesapeake St. and Nebraska Ave., N.W.) from 7:15-9:30 p.m. Tonight’s local bands include Mary Christ and Sunwolf. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

A sampling of Sunwolf

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Monday’s a Total Drag [Show]” party tonight from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. An episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” screens at 9, and then a live drag show will be featured. Admission is 18 and older and free. For details, visit

Tuesday, Aug. 6

Us Helping Us (3636 Georgia Ave., N.W.) hosts a focus group for gay black men, organized by the D.C. HIV Prevention Planning Group, from 5:30-8 p.m. this evening. Visit or for more details.

MOVA Lounge (2204 14th St., N.W.) screens “Will & Grace” reruns tonight from 5 p.m.-3 a.m. Half-priced “Karen Walker Martinis” and “Just Jack Cocktails” will be served. There is no cover. For more information, visit

A little Karen & Jack

Wednesday, Aug. 7

Lambda Bridge Club meets at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Dignity Center (721 8th St., S.E.) for social bridge. Newcomers are welcome and a partner is not needed. For more information, call 301-345-1571.

Bachelor’s Mill (1104 8th St., S.E.) hosts drag bingo during happy hour tonight from 5-7:30 p.m. All drinks are half price and there will also be pool, video gaming systems and cards. Admission is free. For details, visit

The Smithsonian National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Ave., N.W.) features “Gorilla Day” from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today in the Great Ape House. The event is family friendly and free and includes animal demonstrations and talks with zookeepers. At 11:15 and 1:15, there will be “knuckle-walking races” kids can compete in. For more information, visit

Thursday, Aug. 8

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers this evening for Food & Friends (219 Riggs Rd., N.E.), which helps to feed about 1,100 living with AIDS in D.C. Burgundy Crescent members will pack groceries and chop vegetables. For more information, visit

The Fort Reno Summer Music Series continue tonight at Fort Reno Park (Chesapeake St. and Nebraska Ave., N.W.) from 7:15-9:30 p.m. Tonight’s local bands include Paint Branch and Quiverd. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Cobalt (1639 R St., N.W.) hosts its weekly “Ripped Hot Body Contest” tonight from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Lena Lett hosts the event and contestants can win up to $200 in prizes. $2 rail drinks will be served from 9-11 p.m. Admission is 18 and older and free. For details, visit

Finn and Porter (900 10th St., N.W.) hosts speed dating for women in their 30s and 40s from 7-9 p.m. tonight. For more information, visit

JR.’s Bar and Grill (1519 17th St., N.W.) hosts an “All-U-Care-2-Drink” happy hour for $15 from 4-8 p.m. this evening. For details, visit