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Social Agenda of Feb. 5

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Friday, Feb. 5

Gay organist Charles Miller plays a recital today at 12:15 p.m. at his church, National City Christian Church in Thomas Circle. He’ll perform works by J.S. Bach, Louis Vierne, Pietro Mascagni and David N. Johnson as part of a weekly concert organ series dubbed “Magical, Mystical, Musical Machine,” which resumes today and runs every Friday at this time through May. It’s free. Gay organists David Christopher and Stephen Harouff play on the 12th and the 19th respectively. Miller plays again on the 26th. The recitals are a half hour each.

Lesbian rock/dance party HottBoxx returns to Phase 1 tonight from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and will happen the first Friday of every month. Doors open at 9. Phase is located at 525 8th St., S.E. Cover is $5.

A dance party featuring the music of Prince, Madonna and Michael Jackson is tonight at 9:30 club, located at 815 V St., N.W. Visit 930.com for more information.

Queer Shabbaton, an urban retreat for LGBT Jews and allies, is this weekend, beginning today at 5 p.m. and continuing through Sunday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center located at 16th and Q streets. The event, which has been held successfully three times in New York, is coming to Washington for the first time this weekend. It features workshops, services, opportunities for networking, yoga and meditation, kosher food and more with several high profile Jewish LGBT speakers. Admission ranges from $80 to $140. For more information, visit nehirim.org/qsdc.

The “So You Think You’re a Drag Queen” monthly contest is tonight at Town, at 2009 8th St., N.W. Doors open at 10 p.m. Visit towndc.com for more information.

Saturday, Feb. 6

“Divas of Pop,” a dance party spanning four decades of pop’s most iconic female singers, is tonight at 9 at State, located at 220 N. Washington St. in Falls Church, Va. Doors open at 7. Visit thestatetheatre.com for more information.

A singles-only event is today at Hillwood Museum & Gardens from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A meet-and-greet, tour and lunch will be held. Tickets are $15. It’s hosted by Zoom Lesbian Excursions. Visit zoomexcursions.com for more information.

D.C. Front Runners, a local gay running group, starts a run today at 23rd and P streets (at the Shevchenko Monument) at 10 a.m. The group also runs Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m., though sometimes at other locations. Visit dcfrontrunners.org for more information.

D.C. Metro LGBT IT Professionals meets today from 10 to 11 a.m. at SteamCafe at 17th and R streets, N.W.

Gay singer/songwriters Tom Goss and Matt Alber play two shows tonight at the DeLaski Theater, located at 1700 Kalorama Road, N.W., in Adams Morgan. Shows are at 5 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Visit tomgossmusic.com/store for tickets. Goss is based in Washington and is touring on his latest album “Back to Love.” Alber, who lives in Los Angeles, became an online sensation last year for his poignant video “End of the World.”

Sunday, Feb. 7

Local drag queen Shi-Queeta Lee hosts drag brunch every Sunday at Nellie’s Sports Bar, located at 900 U St., N.W. Brunch buffet is $20. Miss Lee performs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visit nelliessportsbar.com for more information.

Monday, Feb. 8

Equality Maryland Lobby Day is today in Annapolis. LGBT Marylanders are encouraged to help the group have a strong presence in the state capitol. A rally is scheduled for 5 p.m., meetings with lawmakers will occur from 6 to 8 p.m. and a special “Annapolis edition” of Guerilla Gay Bar Baltimore will be from 8 to 10 p.m. at Ram’s Head Tavern. Register to attend at equalitymaryland.org/lobbyday. Or contact Mike at 410-685-6567 or [email protected]

A week of musical theater cabaret dubbed “Broadway Today and Tomorrow” is being held tonight and all week at the Kennedy Center at 6 p.m. on the Millennium Stage. Tonight’s performers are Matt Cavanaugh, Peter Mills and Kate Baldwin. Many other Broadway up-and-comers perform each night through Friday. Free. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, the District’s largest mostly gay church, has an HIV-positive support group for people of faith every Monday at the church. For more information, contact Matt Senger at 202-546-2159 or e-mail him at [email protected] MCC-DC is located at 474 Ridge St., N.W. Visit mccdc.com for more information about the church.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

Cobalt has “Flashback,” a retro night, every Tuesday at 10 p.m. Rail vodka drinks are free from 10 to 11 p.m. Cobalt, a gay bar and dance club, is at the corner of 17th and R streets, N.W.

Wednesday, Feb. 10

Rainbow Response has its monthly meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at National City Christian Church, located at 5 Thomas Circle, N.W. The group is a meeting of individuals and agencies collaborating to discuss intimate partner violence in the local LGBT community. The meeting is typically held on the second Wednesday of each month. Visit rainbowresponse.org for more information.

The Gertrude Stein Club, a local group of gay Democrats, is having a speed dating event tonight at the D.C. Center at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Attendees will go on three-minute dates, fill out evaluation forms and be informed of matches upon which contact information will be shared. Cost is $10 in advance or $15 at the door. The Center is located at 1804 14th St., N.W. Visit steindemocrats.org for more information.

Ladies First night is tonight and every Wednesday at Fab Lounge, located at 1805 Connecticut Ave., N.W. For more information, visit myspace.com/ladiesfirst.

Thursday, Feb. 11

D.C. Lambda Squares, a local gay square dancing group, meets every Thursday for square dancing. For more information about the group or to find out when beginner classes are available, visit dclambdasquares.org.

Friday, Feb. 12

Gay District meets tonight. The group was formerly known as the Twenties Group but has expanded its age range for gay, bi, trans and questioning men from 18 to 35. The group meets for weekly discussion from 8:30 to 9:30 every Friday at St. Margaret’s Church located at 1830 Connecticut Ave. Those interested can visit the group on Facebook under the name “GD: Gay District.”

A new Friday night drag show at Ziegfeld’s has started with a new hostess. The Ladies of Illusion hosted by Kristina Kelly has performances every Friday at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Ziegfeld’s is celebrating its one-year anniversary this weekend.

Saturday, Feb. 13

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, the District’s largest mostly gay church, has its annual Valentine’s dance tonight at 7 p.m. at the church. Refreshments will be served. A $7 donation is suggested. Contact 202-638-7373 or [email protected] for more information. The church is located at 474 Ridge St., N.W.

“Love,” a concert by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, is today with shows at 5 and 8 p.m. at Church of the Epiphany located at 1317 G St. N.W. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at www.gmcw.org/tickets, by phone at 202-293-1548 or at the HRC shop at 1633 Connecticut Ave., N.W. The concert will feature a chorus transcription of Brahm’s “Liebeslieder Waltzes” by chorus member Robert T. Boaz and a performance by the Rock Creek Singers, a chamber ensemble of Chorus members.

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Photos

PHOTOS: International LGBTQ Leaders Conference opening reception

Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott

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Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ Victory Institute held an opening reception for the 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference at the JW Marriott on Thursday.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

Meet the husbands and creative partners behind ‘Christmas Angel’

A funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast

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Stephen Gregory Smith and Matt Conner with pugs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron.

The Christmas Angel
Dec. 9-19
Creative Cauldron
410 South Maple Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046
Tickets:  $35. Students $20.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required
creativecauldron.org

“Ours is like a lava lamp,” says composer Matt Conner describing the collaborative creative process he shares with musical writing partner and husband Stephen Gregory Smith. “We move together in motion in a continual ebb and flow.” 

A couple for 23 years, married for eight, and making musicals together for 11, the talented pair’s current offering is “The Christmas Angel,” opening on Dec. 9 at Creative Cauldron in Fairfax. 

A musical adaptation of the same-named 1910 novel by Abbie Farwell Brown, it’s the story of Angelina Terry (Kanysha Williams), a wealthy embittered recluse who learns the lessons of Christmas from a box of old toys that she casts into the street. Also featured in the hour-long one-act are Ryan Sellers as Horton, Angelina’s butler, and Carl Williams who plays her brother. The angel and toys are brought to life by an ensemble of a dozen teens plucked from the company’s musical theater training program. 

Via phone from their home in Arlington, Smith and Conner shared thoughts on their new show and working style. In attendance are pug dogs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron, whom they call Eddie and Byron in public – otherwise “it’s just too much,” says Conner whose ultimate fantasy involves living on a pug farm where he’d write music and present the occasional show.

Rather than finish each other’s sentences, the duo (both Helen Hayes Award winners – Smith for acting and Conner for directing) expound on one another’s thoughts.

While Conner composes the music, Smith writes the book and lyrics, and together they co-direct. “But there’s no end and beginning where my job ends and his begins,” says Smith. “What we do complements each other’s work.”

Still, there are differences. Smith’s approach is focused. He writes pages at night and edits in the morning. Conner’s method is more relaxed, preferring to sit at the keyboard and talk rather than writing things down. But throughout the creative process, there’s never a moment when the project isn’t on their mind. They can be watching TV or buying milk when an exciting idea pops up, says Conner. 

A clever nod to Dickens, the novel is more than just a female “Christmas Carol,” says Smith. And in some spots, he’s beefed up the 55-page book, fleshing out both storyline and characters including the toys whose shabby appearance belies a youthful confidence. 

He adds, “Every holiday season you go to the attic and pull down the box, or boxes in my case, of holiday decorations and it’s all old but it’s new. That’s the nostalgic feeling of toys from the attic that we’re trying to find through the show.”

The music is a combination of traditional carols performed by a hand bell chorus, and original Christmas songs that intentionally sound very familiar. The score includes songs “Don’t Hide Your Light,” “The Sweetest Gift,” and “Yestermore” – the moment when the past, present, and future come together. 

Also, there’s Angelina’s Bah! Humbug! number “Fiddlesticks,” her great renunciation of the holidays. She believes the world a disappointing place to be, and the sooner realized the better. 

Conner and Smith aren’t new to Creative Cauldron. Through the company’s Bold New Works project, the team was commissioned to write five world premiere musicals in just five years. The result was “The Turn of the Screw,” “Monsters of the Villa Diodati,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Witch” and “On Air.”

Judging from some of the titles and their slightly macabre content, it seems the duo was better poised to write for Halloween than Christmas, but nonetheless, they were commissioned. Creative Cauldron’s producing director Laura Connors Hull brought them the obscure yet charming book that surprisingly had never before been reworked for stage or celluloid, and the pair got to work last spring. 

Conner and Smith agree, “The show is a lot of things rolled up into one.”

Not only is it a funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast, but it’s also a story largely unknown to today’s audiences. Additionally, the show boasts intergenerational appeal while holding messages about Christmas, family, and finding light when you’re in a darker place. 

More information about Conner and Smith, including links to their music and popular podcast “The Conner & Smith Show,” can be found on their terrific website at connersmithmusicals.com.   

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Books

‘Capote’s Women’ is catnip to older pop culture fans

Revisiting iconic author’s seven ‘swans’

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(Book cover courtesy of Putnam)

Capote’s Women
By Laurence Leamer
C.2021, Putnam $28/356 pages

Her lips are locked tight.

Your best friend knows all your secrets, and she’s keeping them; you told her things you had to tell somebody, and she’s telling nobody. You always knew you could trust her; if you couldn’t, she wouldn’t be your BFF. But as in the new book “Capote’s Women” by Laurence Leamer, what kind of a friend are you?

For months, Truman Capote had been promising a blockbuster.

Following his success with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” he was “one of the most famous authors in the world” but he needed a career-booster. The novel he was writing, he teased, would be about “his swans,” seven wealthy, fashionable women who quite personified “beauty, taste, and manners.”

His first swan was Barbara “Babe” Paley, whom he’d met on a trip with the David Selznicks to Jamaica. For Capote, “Babe was the epitome of class,” simply “perfect” in every way; it helped that the famously gay writer was no threat to Paley’s “madly jealous” husband.

Babe’s “dearest friend” was Nancy “Slim” Keith, who quickly learned that if a lady wanted her confidences kept, she didn’t tell Capote anything. She shouldn’t have trusted Babe, either: When Slim left for a European trip, Babe asked if Slim’s husband could accompany Babe’s friend, Pamela Hayward, to a play.

Slim was aware of Pamela’s predatory reputation, but what could she say?

Of course, Pamela, another of Truman’s swans, stole Slim’s man, a scandal that Capote loved.

Gloria Guinness was highly intelligent, possibly enough to be a spy in Nazi Germany. Lucy “C.Z.” Guest was an upper-crust “elitist” with a “magical aura.” Marella Agnelli “was born an Italian princess”; Lee Radziwill, of course, was Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister.

Through the late 1960s, Capote claimed to be writing his masterpiece, his tour de force based on his swans, but several deadlines passed for it. He was sure Answered Prayers “would turn him once again into the most talked-about author in America.”

Instead, when an excerpt from it was published, his swans got very ruffled feathers.

Every time you stand in line for groceries, the tabloids scream at you with so much drama that you either love it or hate it. Or, in the case of “Capote’s Women,” you cultivate it.

And that’s infinitely fun, as told by author Laurence Leamer.

Happily, though, Leamer doesn’t embellish or disrespect these women or Capote; he tells their tales in order, gently allowing readers’ heads to spin with the wild, globe-hopping goings-on but not to the point that it’s overdone. While most of this book is about these seven beautiful, wealthy, and serially married women – the Kardashians of their time, if you will – Capote is Leamer’s glue, and Truman gets his due, as well.

Readers who devour this book will be sure that the writer would’ve been very happy about that.

“Capote’s Women” should be like catnip to celeb-watchers of a Certain Age but even if you’re not, find it. If you’re a Hollywood fan, you’ll want to get a lock on it.

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