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Calendar for Sept. 17

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Friday, Sept. 17

Servicemembers United present “Beyond Repeal,” a rooftop gala and fundraiser tonight at the Servicemembers United office, 1725 I St., N.W., from 6:30 to 9 p.m. There will be an open bar and light hors d’oeuvres. Standard admission tickets are $50 and can be purchased at servicemembersunited.org. There are other packages available as well.

Wolf Trap presents “ABBA – The Music” tonight at the Filene Center, 1551 Trap Rd., in Vienna, at 8 p.m. Waterloo, an ABBA cover band, keep’s the group’s music alive with their “uncanny” resemblance and quality performances. Tickets are $25 for the lawn and $38 in-house and can be purchased at wloftrap.org.

Caliente Grande is tonight at Apex, 1415 22nd St., N.W., starting at 9 p.m. DJ Michael Brandon will be spinning the latin dance party in the main hall. There is a $10 cover charge. Attendees must be 18 to enter, 21 to drink.

The D.C. Cowboys host Brodeo tonight at Remingtons, 639 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E., from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. The party will feature country/western and disco/club music, live performances, giveaways, jello shots and an auction.

Saturday, Sept. 18

CBS Radio of Washington presents its signature event, HFSTIVAL, “We’re Taking You Back” today at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pky., in Columbia. This year’s lineup includes Billy Idol, Everclear, Third Eye Blind, Marcy Playground and more, including 18 local bands. Festival gates open at 10 a.m. and the concert goes from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets range from $35 to $50 and can be purchased at whfs.radio.com.

Burgundy Crescent Volunteers is holding a photo scavenger hunt today starting at the Taras Shevchenko monument at 22nd and P streets, N.W., at 10 a.m. BCV Social Committee members will be greeting participants as they arrive. Come with a group or alone. Everyone will end up in a group of three to six members with at least one camera. Each group will have two hours to take as many digital photographs from the supplied list of subjects as they can. The hunt will be done at noon and photos will be shared over lunch. Visit burgundycrescent.org for more information.

Merrifield Garden Center presents its latest weekly gardening seminar today. At the Merrifield location, 8104 Lee Highway, Renatta Holt will be talking about gardening in small spaces using container gardens and more. At the Fair Oaks location, 12101 Lee Highway, Peg Bier will be talking about creating gorgeous combinations of bulbs and perennials for long-lasting displays. At the Gainesville location, 6895 Wellington Rd., David Yost will be talking about building the lawn of your dreams. All seminars being at 10 a.m.

MIXTAPE D.C.’s two year anniversary party is tonight at the Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St., N.W., from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. MIXTAPE is a dance party for queer guys and gals and their pals that features DJs Shea Van Horn and Matt Bailer playing an eclectic mix of electro, alt-pop, indie rock, house, disco, new wave and anything else you can dance to. $5 cover for 21 and over.

Allie Wilson and Jacob Pring present Cotton Candy, Green Lantern’s first 18 and older party. DJs David Merrill and Bryan Yamasaki will be providing the music. Green Lantern is located at 1335 Green Court, N.W. and the party will be held upstairs. There is a $10 cover fee.

Town is hosting its biggest theme party of the year tonight with its Red Party. The party will feature music by Tracy Young with music and video downstairs by Wess. Drag show starts at 10:30 p.m. Attendees are asked to wear red. Doors open at 10 p.m. with $3 rail drinks until 11. Cover is $8 before 11 p.m. and $12 after. Must be 21 and over to enter.

Sunday, Sept. 19

Pocket Gays present Pocket Rocket Sunday School: Summer Send-Off is tonight on the rooftop of Local 16, 1602 U St., N.W., from 3 to 9 p.m. Music will be by DJ Majr (SHIFT, Siren). There will be $5 Smirnoff drink specials, prizes and games. There’s no cover.

Monday, Sept. 20

Celebrity photographer, Adam Bouska, will bring the national NOH8 photo shoot to D.C., tonight at Cobalt, 1639 R St., N.W., from 4 to 7 p.m.

Bears do Yoga will meet at Green Lantern, 1335 Green Court, N.W., at 6:30 p.m. and last for an hour. This class serves as an introduction to yoga for people of all body types and physical abilities. To RSVP for the class, email [email protected].

Tuesday, Sept. 21

Drag Bingo will be at Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U St., N.W., tonight hosted by Shi-Queeta Lee, starting at 8 p.m. It’s free to play and there will be prizes.

Wednesday, Sept. 22

Mautner Project presents its speakers’ series Financial and Medical Planning with Michele Zavos and Mark Scurti at Mautner Project office, 1875 Connecticut Ave., N.W., at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 23

CAGLCC presents Thursday Morning MasterMind GROUP Meetings facilitated by Jay Vilar from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Intelligent Office, 1425 K St., N.W., Ste. 350. The agenda belongs to the group and each person’s participation is key. Peers give you feedback, help you brainstorm and set up accountability structures to keep you focused and on track.

Mautner Project presents its speakers’ series Financial and Medical Planning with Michele Zavos and Mark Scurti at Equality Maryland, 1201 Sharp St., in Baltimore at 6:30 p.m.

Phasefest 2010 kicks off tonight at Phase 1, 525 8th St., S.E., with Wicked Jezebel, Melissa Li, Kit Yan, Jenny Grind, Nikki Smith and Alex Voegele. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at phasefestdc.com. This event continues through Saturday.

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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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