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Into the groove

John, Minnelli, Indigo Girls, among big acts slated for fall releases

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The gay-friendly acts outnumber the gay acts on the fall album release slate though a few long-time queer stalwarts, like Elton John and the Indigo Girls, have new records coming soon.

Olivia Newton John’s new album, “Grace and Gratitude Renewed” drops Tuesday. It’s a re-recording of her 2006 release.

Liza Minnelli’s new album, “Confessions,” arrives Sept. 21. This album is a collection of American classics, featuring some of Minnelli’s favorite songs with accompaniment by her long-time pianist Billy Stritch. She has said this album is almost accidental.

“It just sort of happened,” Minnelli said in a press release for the album. “I used to have these evenings at my house, usually on a weekend, and people like Tony Bennett — or more surprising people like Janet Jackson — would come by, and we would end up singing around the piano.”

After suffering a knee injury, Minnelli recorded some of her favorite songs while stuck in her bedroom and kept going with it even after recuperating. “Confessions” is the follow-up to her 2008 return to Broadway, “Liza’s at the Palace,” which was nominated for a Grammy and won the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event.

On Sept. 28, the new Broadway cast’s recording of “La Cage Aux Folles” will be released including the voice of Kelsey Grammar and Douglas Hodge, who won a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance. The show has earned three Tonys, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Sept. 28 also brings the “Station to Station” special edition 3-CD set by David Bowie. This set includes the original album, previously unreleased “Live Nassau Coliseum ’76” concert, lift-off-lid box, six-page booklet and three postcards.

Robbie Williams has a greatest hits collection coming out Oct. 12. “In & Out of Consciousness” includes two CDs with definitive hits and a third disc with b-sides and rarities, all in a 20-page casebound book package. The collection introduces listeners to a new single, “Shame,” co-written with Gary Barlow. The single is the first time these two have ever recorded and performed a duet together and the first time they have written and recorded a song together since Williams left Take That in 1995.

Elton John has a new album coming out on Oct. 19, “The Union,” on which he worked with Leon Russell. Recording in Los Angeles earlier this year, there are many guest musicians including Brian Wilson, Booker T, Don Was and Neil Young. The recording sessions were filmed by Cameron Crowe for a documentary.

October also brings two holiday albums by some big names.

The Indigo Girls add another album to their discography with “Holly Happy Days” on Oct. 12. Amy Ray has previously described this album as having a more country feel with original songs and classics, both holiday and seasonal based.

On Oct. 21, “Christmas in Harmony” will be released, marking the first studio album by Wilson Phillips since their 2004 release, “California.”

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Photos

PHOTOS: Night of Champions

Team DC holds annual awards gala

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Team DC President Miguel Ayala speaks at the 2024 Night of Champions Awards on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Team DC, the umbrella organization for LGBTQ-friendly sports teams and leagues in the D.C. area, held its annual Night of Champions Awards Gala on Saturday, April 20 at the Hilton National Mall. The organization gave out scholarships to area LGBTQ student athletes as well as awards to the Different Drummers, Kelly Laczko of Duplex Diner, Stacy Smith of the Edmund Burke School, Bryan Frank of Triout, JC Adams of DCG Basketball and the DC Gay Flag Football League.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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PHOTOS: National Cannabis Festival

Annual event draws thousands to RFK

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Growers show their strains at The National Cannabis Festival on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 2024 National Cannabis Festival was held at the Fields at RFK Stadium on April 19-20.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Theater

‘Amm(i)gone’ explores family, queerness, and faith

A ‘fully autobiographical’ work from out artist Adil Mansoor

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Adil Mansoor in ‘Amm(i)gone’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. (Photo by Kitoko Chargois)

‘Amm(i)gone’
Thorough May 12
Woolly Mammoth Theatre
641 D St., N.W. 
$60-$70
Woollymammoth.net

“Fully and utterly autobiographical.” That’s how Adil Mansoor describes “Amm(i)gone,” his one-man work currently playing at Woolly Mammoth Theatre. 

Both created and performed by out artist Mansoor, it’s his story about inviting his Pakistani mother to translate Sophocles’s Greek tragedy “Antigone” into Urdu. Throughout the journey, there’s an exploration of family, queerness, and faith,as well as references to teachings from the Quran, and audio conversations with his Muslim mother. 

Mansoor, 38, grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and is now based in Pittsburgh where he’s a busy theater maker. He’s also the founding member of Pittsburgh’s Hatch Arts Collective and the former artistic director of Dreams of Hope, an LGBTQ youth arts organization.

WASHINGTON BLADE: What spurred you to create “Amm(i)gone”? 

ADIL MANSOOR: I was reading a translation of “Antigone” a few years back and found myself emotionally overwhelmed. A Theban princess buries her brother knowing it will cost her, her own life. It’s about a person for whom all aspirations are in the afterlife. And what does that do to the living when all of your hopes and dreams have to be reserved for the afterlife?

I found grant funding to pay my mom to do the translation. I wanted to engage in learning. I wanted to share theater but especially this ancient tragedy. My mother appreciated the characters were struggling between loving one another and their beliefs. 

BLADE: Are you more director than actor?

MANSOOR: I’m primarily a director with an MFA in directing from Carnegie Mellon. I wrote, directed, and performed in this show, and had been working on it for four years. I’ve done different versions including Zoom. Woolly’s is a new production with the same team who’ve been involved since the beginning. 

I love solo performance. I’ve produced and now teach solo performance and believe in its power. And I definitely lean toward “performance” and I haven’t “acted” since I was in college. I feel good on stage. I was a tour guide and do a lot of public speaking. I enjoy the attention. 

BLADE: Describe your mom. 

MANSOOR: My mom is a wonderfully devout Muslim, single mother, social worker who discovered my queerness on Google. And she prays for me. 

She and I are similar, the way we look at things, the way we laugh. But different too. And those are among the questions I ask in this show. Our relationship is both beautiful and complicated.

BLADE: So, you weren’t exactly hiding your sexuality? 

MANSOOR: In my mid-20s, I took time to talk with friends about our being queer with relation to our careers. My sexuality is essential to the work. As the artistic director at Dreams of Hope, part of the work was to model what it means to be public. If I’m in a room with queer and trans teenagers, part of what I’m doing is modeling queer adulthood. The way they see me in the world is part of what I’m putting out there. And I want that to be expansive and full. 

So much of my work involves fundraising and being a face in schools. Being out is about making safe space for queer young folks.

BLADE: Have you encountered much Islamophobia? 

MANSOOR: When 9/11 happened, I was a sophomore in high school, so yes. I faced a lot then and now. I’ve been egged on the street in the last four months. I see it in the classroom. It shows up in all sorts of ways. 

BLADE: What prompted you to lead your creative life in Pittsburgh? 

MANSOOR: I’ve been here for 14 years. I breathe with ease in Pittsburgh. The hills and the valleys and the rust of the city do something to me. It’s beautiful, it’ affordable, and there is support for local artists. There’s a lot of opportunity. 

Still, the plan was to move to New York in September of 2020 but that was cancelled. Then the pandemic showed me that I could live in Pittsburgh and still have a nationally viable career. 

BLADE: What are you trying to achieve with “Amm(i)gone”? 

MANSOOR: What I’m sharing in the show is so very specific but I hear people from other backgrounds say I totally see my mom in that. My partner is Catholic and we share so much in relation to this. 

 I hope the work is embracing the fullness of queerness and how means so many things. And I hope the show makes audiences want to call their parents or squeeze their partners.

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