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Calendar for Aug. 6

Friday, Aug. 6, to Thursday, Aug. 12

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Friday, Aug. 6

Open Mic Night tonight at the DC Center, 1318 U St., N.W., at 8 p.m. hosted by Mike Brazell. Everyone is welcome to a night of queer poetry and spoken word and is encouraged to come prepared to share.

Gloss presents First Fridays Ladies Night tonight at Apex, 1415 22nd St., N.W., featuring the DC Kings and the DC Gurly Show. DJ Rosie will be in the main hall. There is a $10 cover charge. Must be 18 to enter and 21 to drink.

Annie Oakley Wild West Festival starts tonight with an opening dance at the Governor’s Hall at Sailwinds Park, 200 Byrn St., Cambridge, Md., from 7 to 11 p.m. There is a $20 cover charge. The festival is a new event to celebrate famous sharpshooter Annie Oakley. The festival continues through the weekend. There will be music, pony rides, arts and crafts, re-enactments, food and beverages.

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, created and conducted by George Daugherty, will be at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna, Va., tonight at 8:30 p.m. The NSO provides live accompaniment as everyone’s favorite bunny brings new cartoons and music to life on large screens in-house and on the lawn, including classics “The Rabbit of Seville,” “What’s Opera, Doc?” and more.

The GLBT Arts Consortium and Capitol Hill Arts Workshop will offer Gilbert & Sullivan’s most popular opera “The Mikado” at CHAW, 545 7th St., S.E., at 7 p.m. Return to a time when merely flirting was punishable by death, and a poor tailor must compete with a second trombone for the favors of a beauty named Yum-Yum, and a formidable lady can be won with a pack of flattering lies and a sad, lovelorn song. And that’s only the beginning.

Saturday, Aug. 7

Ever wanted to dance like the crews on ABDC such as Poreotixs or Soreal Cru? Join the Joy of Motion Dance Center, 5207 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., at 11 a.m. for an Autobots vs. Decepticons workshop that will show all the latest street moves fused with illusions, tutting, popping and turfing and video choreography based on today’s hottest dance moves and concepts. Visit Joyofmotion.org for more information.

The DC Center and Tongues Afire DC invite queer women of color to a poetry workshop taking place at the DC Center, 1318 U St., N.W., at 1:30 p.m. Come explore your creative spirit in a workshop facilitated by local poet Jade Foster. For more information, contact Jade at: [email protected]

No Scrubs ‘90s Dance Party with DJs Will Eastman and Brian Billion at 9:30 club at 9 p.m. No Scrubs began in 2004 as a one-off concept party by Eastman and Billion. The idea was simple: play both guilty pleasures and underground classics you listened to growing up in the 90s. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at 930.com.

Drag Days of Summer by Scena at the H Street Playhouse, 1365 H. St., N.E., is a party following a performance of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. There will be complimentary wine, beer and German food by Biergarten Haus. Drag attire is welcomed. Tickets can be purchased at scenatheater.org.

Sunday, Aug. 8

Hippiefest at Wolftrap’s Filene Center, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna, Va., at 8 p.m. This “groovy” tradition continues with the best of the ‘70s featuring Jack Bruce of Cream, War, Mitch Ryder and Rare Earth.

Monday, Aug. 9

“Women to Watch 2010 Body of Work: New Perspectives on Figure Painting” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave., N.W. NMWA’s newest installment in the Women to Watch exhibition series centers on contemporary figurative painting. The 16 works in the exhibition reflect myriad styles and approaches, but all highlight figure painters’ embrace of the slow, subtle and singular processes involved in painting people.

Tuesday, Aug. 10

Join the Dance Institute of Washington for an innovative, family-friendly adaptation of a celebrated classic, West Side Story, at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, Va., at 10 a.m. When the Hip Hops challenge the Techni-Ques to a lively dance-off, it seems like everyone’s choosing sides. This fun, age-appropriate competition is the backdrop for a love story that makes two rivals reevaluate their differences and honor the importance of acceptance through their love of dance. Visit wolftrap.org to purchase tickets.

Wednesday, Aug. 11

Tribute to the British Invasion at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, at 7:30 p.m. Sixty of the D.C. area’s best performers, including Tommy Lepson, Eric Brace & Last Train Home, 4 Out of 5 Doctors, Margot MacDonald, Julia Nixon and more honor singers and bands that forever changed America’s musical landscape. Highlighting the years of 1964-1966, this show features hits originally performed by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Dusty Springfield and more.

Play Loteria, the Mexican version of bingo, but played with icons instead of letters and numbers, at The Palace of Wonders, 1210 H St., N.E., at 6:30 p.m. The icons were done by 54 of DC/MD’s top artists including David Amoroso, Kevin Sherry, Cameron Wolf and former Blade staffer Alan Defibaugh. The evening is hosted by burlesque waitress, Shortstaxx and alt drag performer, Lucrezia Blozia.

Thursday, Aug. 12

DCBiWomen, the area’s social group for bisexual and bi-curious women, will meet at Cafe Luna, 1633 P St., N.W., at 7 p.m. The group’s goal is to create an accepting, encouraging environment for bisexual women regardless of the gender of their partner or what they are looking for, meet other cool bi women, and affirm the existence of the bi-identity.

Jason Wu’s fashion collection meets its fine art inspiration at a special Phillips After 5 at The Phillips Collecton, 1600 21st St., N.W., from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wu cites Robert Ryman’s painting as the muse for his fall 2010 TSE cashmere collection. For one evening, models act as living works of art in the Ryman exhibition, bringing Wu’s designs face-to-face with their fine art inspiration. A video of Wu’s fall 2010 ready-to-wear runway show is on view in the café, and a scavenger hunt leads visitors through the museum, collecting fashion and fine art facts for a chance to win prizes. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and visitors 62 and over, and free for members and visitors 18 and under and they can be purchased at phllipscollection.org/calendar.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Cupid’s Undie Run

Scantily-clad joggers face freezing temperatures for a cause

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Cupid's Undie Run was held at The Wharf DC on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Cupid’s Undie Run, an annual fundraiser for neurofibromatosis (NF) research, was held at Union Stage and at The Wharf DC on Saturday, Feb. 17.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Photos

PHOTOS: Queen of Hearts

Katie D. Lite was crowned the winner of 42nd annual drag pageant

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Katie D. Lite was crowned the Queen of Hearts. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 42nd annual Queen of Hearts pageant was held at The Lodge in Boonsboro, Md. on Friday, Feb. 16. Eight contestants vied for the title. Katie D. Lite was crowned the winner.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

Deaf, gay actor on gripping, funny ‘Private Jones’

Musical makes premiere at Signature with Obie winner Dickie Drew Hearts

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Dickie Drew Hearts (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

‘Private Jones’
Through March 10
Signature Theatre 
4200 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, Virginia 22206
$40-$99 
Sigtheatre.org

Set against the harsh vicissitudes of the Great War, “Private Jones” a new musical written and directed by Marshall Pailet, is currently making its world premiere at Signature Theatre in Arlington. 

Touted as gripping, unexpectedly funny, and purportedly true, it’s the story of Gomer Jones, a young Deaf Welshman who after wriggling his way into military service becomes a celebrated sniper only to learn there might be more to life. 

The production features a cast of hearing, Deaf, and hard-of-hearing actors including Dickie Drew Hearts, the Deaf, gay, and affable actor who recently won an Obie Award for “Dark Disabled Stories” at the Public in New York, and is probably best known for his performance of Mateo in Netflix’s “Tales of the City” (2019 miniseries).

Gathered around the end of a long conference table in the Sondheim Multipurpose Room at Signature Theatre, Hearts and I along with two top notch interpreters (one to sign my questions and another to voice the actor’s replies) dive into conversation. 

Hearts plays Henry, a Deaf munitions factory worker whose sister Gwenolyn (Leanne Antonio) becomes the love interest of Gomer (played by hard-of-hearing actor Johnny Link). It’s Henry who teaches Gomer sign language and essentially introduces him to Deaf culture, which isn’t unusual, says Hearts. It’s often through other Deaf people that the Deaf themselves get introduced to the Deaf community and signing world.

When the actors met in 2018, says Hearts, “Johnny [Link] was just learning sign language. I assured him that those who are hard-of-hearing are automatically very welcome members of the deaf community. Point blank. There are no qualifications.”

And now, six years later, Hearts is thrilled to be working with Link. “It’s amazing to see Johnny again, and to be having full conversations with him in sign language both on and off stage.” 

Not only is “Private Jones” a physically demanding show, but because it’s performed in spoken English as well as some American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL) it presents some extra difficulties.

To play Henry, Hearts – a native ASL user since childhood – has had to learn BSL, tantamount to doing the show in an entirely new and different language. Hearts says, “I hope people recognize that. And signing along musically in BSL adds a layer of challenge beyond signing BSL dialogue.” 

Of course, he remains undaunted. It’s about the job and getting the character right. And for the thirtysomething actor that means going deep.  

“I would like to think Henry is a closeted gay man. Henry has ‘a roommate,’ is how I thought of his backstory.”

Hearts adds, “I know that queer people have always been here and I like to infuse that into the characters I play whether or not it’s stated. I look for those moments of where it might be hinting at sexuality, and ask what was it like at the time, was it safe to be out?”

Born Deaf in Queens, New York, into a hearing family who’d recently immigrated from formerly British Guyana in South America, Hearts grew up in Newport News, Va. 

A childhood spent watching captioned TV shows taught him both English and how to impersonate characters, an obsession that he took out into the neighborhood. “Eventually, somebody said there’s a thing for what I do. It’s called theater,” he signs with a grin. 

While attending Gallaudet University here in D.C., Hearts focused on film until his senior year when he randomly auditioned for the musical comedy “Urinetown” and landed the lead role of dashing Bobby Strong. A love for acting resurfaced and took hold. 

After graduating, Hearts came out and promptly moved to L.A. where he spent the next six years skirmishing over a dearth of Deaf parts. When a gig led him to New York in 2018, his luck changed. 

“Being a Deaf, gay, BIPOC actor was amazing for finding stage and film work in New York. But just when a lot of doors were opening for me, the pandemic hit and everything stopped.” 

Slowly things picked up. And in 2021 he became part of a new project. He was soon reporting to a nondescript high rise in midtown Manhattan workshopping what would become “Private Jones.” 

Now at Signature, Hearts is busy bringing Henry to life. “It’s been an amazing journey and I’m really fortunate to have witnessed its evolution from the beginning. It’s become grander, more elevated, and the characters more complex. It’s a wonderful thing” 

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