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Portrait of a ‘Lady’

Streep reliably good in new Thatcher biopic

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In her latest cinematic turn, “The Iron Lady,” screen legend and two-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep moves seamlessly into Number 10 Downing Street as iconic British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. From the opening scenes, she’s unrecognizable as a shaky, old Thatcher going out for milk — totally overlooked and unnoticed by former constituents.

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in ‘The Iron Lady.’ (Photo courtesy the Weinstein Company)

The scene serves as foreshadowing for the flashback-fueled biopic about one of history’s more formidable females and how her haunted mind recalls the monumental events of her past and her struggle to stay firmly rooted in the present. The film opens today (Friday) in Washington; Landmark — both E Street and Bethesda Row — has it.

A lengthy knowledge of British politics isn’t required to thoroughly enjoy the film, which stirs empathy and respect for the tough and determined Prime Minister, but it can’t hurt. In her declining years, Thatcher relives her marriage to her husband (delightfully portrayed by Jim Broadbent), ascent to major political success and numerous battles against her male counterparts in Parliament. The format of using flashbacks to create a fluid, if not completely chronological, biopic is a tricky one. However, it works here because as Thatcher’s physical and mental decline are apparent, it’s logical that dementia, or at least a deep longing for her illustrious past, would play a role in her aging.

Unlike 2011’s uneven biopic “J. Edgar,” which was also told in a flashback format, “The Iron Lady” gives the feeling of a well-rounded and human portrait of a controversial leader. Even if one disagrees with Thatcher’s policies, the film inspires respect for the determined woman, who rose from a working middle-class background to be the first female Prime Minister of Briton.” J. Edgar,” followed a more traditional flashback format of a retiring official dictating an autobiography filled with embellishments. Late in the film the audience learns of the half-truths and is left with more questions and skepticism rather than any form of insight.

But forget the format. Forget the director. It is Streep who is the film’s anchor, mast and sail. While some critics have bemoaned the storyline and structure, all agree Streep is mesmerizing. There are few actors who could legitimately be compared to Meryl Streep and her performance in “The Iron Lady” is a perfect representation of why. She vanishes into Thatcher’s mannerisms, speech and aura. She never appears to acting or in costume and make up. The transformation of she undergoes is truly unbelievable. Her recent portrayal of Julia Child displayed once again her trademark ability to master speech patterns and accents, which she also nails in this film.

While Thatcher’s persona and impact were larger than life, Streep exercises perfect restraint in bringing the Prime Minister’s greatest moments to the screen. She keeps her teeth far enough away from the scenery as not to turn Maggie into “Mommie Dearest” when tensions rise. Thatcher is known for her outspoken personality and Streep does an impeccable job of conveying that without sacrificing authenticity.

When the final credits roll, the audience is left not with an ideological or chronological picture of a politician, but the snapshots of the life of someone who believed wholeheartedly in what she said and did. “The Iron Lady” leaves one with a curiosity to know more about Margaret Thatcher but not because the film is incomplete but because its subject is masterfully portrayed and presented. Political subject matter almost always proves divisive, but not “The Iron Lady.” A jumble of understanding, empathy and respect is what is created in the wake of the Prime Minister — even if her political views are not in concert with those of audience members.

As the days before the 84th annual Academy Award nominations are announced dwindle, Street is assuredly guaranteed her 18th nomination. Whether she or Viola Davis, who starred in 2011’s massively successful film “The Help,” will take home the top prize remains to be seen. But after seeing both films, one is inclined to believe that Meryl’s mantle might become a bit more crowded by another golden incarnation of Thatcher in February.

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Photos

PHOTOS: Baltimore Pride Parade

Thousands attend annual LGBTQ march and block party

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A scene from the 2024 Baltimore Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Baltimore Pride Parade and Block Party was held on Charles Street in Baltimore, Md. on Saturday, June 15. 

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Sports

Washington Mystics to hold annual Pride game

Team to play Dallas Wings on Saturday

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Mystics will be having their upcoming Pride game on Saturday against the Dallas Wings.

The Mystics Pride game is one of the team’s theme nights they host every year, with Pride night being a recurring event. The team faced off against the Phoenix Mercury last June. Brittney Griner, who Russia released from a penal colony in December 2022 after a court convicted her of importing illegal drugs after customs officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage, attended the game. 

Unlike the NBA, where there are currently no openly LGBTQ players, there are multiple WNBA players who are out. Mystics players Emily Englster, Brittney Sykes, and Stefanie Dolson are all queer.

The Mystics on June 1 acknowledged Pride Month in a post to its X account.

“Celebrating Pride this month and every month,” reads the message.

The game is on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Entertainment and Sports Arena (1100 Oak Drive, S.E.). Fans can purchase special Pride tickets that come with exclusive Mystics Pride-themed jerseys. 

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Theater

Queers win big at 77th annual Tony Awards

‘Merrily We Roll Along’ among winners

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(Photo courtesy of the Tony Awards' Facebook page)

It was a banner night for queer theater artists at the 77th annual Tony Awards, honoring the best in Broadway theater at the Lincoln Center in New York on Sunday. Some of the biggest honors of the night went to the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Merrily We Roll Along” and the dance-musical based on Sufjan Stephens’ album “Illinoise.

“Merrily We Roll Along,” which follows three friends as their lives change over the course of 20 years, told in reverse chronological order, picked up the awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Orchestrations. 

Out actor Jonathan Groff picked up his first Tony Award for his leading role as Franklin Shepard in the show, while his costar Daniel Radcliffe earned his first Tony Award for featured performance as Charley Kringas. 

Groff gave a heartfelt and teary acceptance speech about how he used to watch the Tony Awards as a child in Lancaster County, Pa.

“Thank you for letting me dress up like Mary Poppins when I was three,” he said to his parents in the audience. “Even if they didn’t understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment.”

Groff also thanked the everyone in the production of “Spring Awakening,” where he made his Broadway debut in 2006, for inspiring him to come out at the age of 23.

“To actually be able to be a part of making theatre in this city, and just as much to be able to watch the work of this incredible community has been the greatest pleasure of my life,” he said. 

This was Groff’s third Tony nomination, having been previously nominated for his leading role in “Spring Awakening” and for his featured performance as King George III in “Hamilton.” 

Radcliffe, who is best known for starring in the “Harry Potter” series of movies, has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community, and has recently been known to spar with “Harry Potter” creator JK Rowling over her extreme opposition to trans rights on social media and in interviews. It was Radcliffe’s first Tony nomination and win.

Lesbian icon Sarah Paulson won her first Tony Award for her starring role in the play “Appropriate,” about a family coming to terms with the legacy of their slave-owning ancestors as they attempt to sell their late father’s estate. It was her first nomination and win.

In her acceptance speech, she thanked her partner Holland Taylor “for loving me.” Along with Paulson’s Emmy win for “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” she is halfway to EGOT status.

The Sufjan Stephens dance-musical “Illinoise,” based on his album of the same name, took home the award for Best Choreography for choreographer Justin Peck. It was his second win.

During the ceremony, the cast of “Illinoise” performed “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!”, a moving dance number about a queer romance.

A big winner of the night was the adaptation of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders,” which dominated the musical categories, earning Best Director, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and Best Musical, which earned LGBTQ ally Angelina Jolie her first Tony Award.

Also a big winner was “Stereophonic,” which dominated the play categories, winning the awards for Best Play, Featured Actor, Director, Sound Design, and Scenic Design.

“Suffs,” a musical about the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S., which acknowledges the lesbian relationship that suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt had in song called “If We Were Married,” took home awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score, both for creator Shaina Taub. 

Had “Suffs” also won for Best Musical, producers Hilary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai would have won their first Tony Awards. 

Other winners include Maleah Joi Moon for her lead role and Kecia Lewis for her featured role in the Alicia Keys musical “Hell’s Kitchen,” Jeremy Strong for his lead role in An Enemy of the People, and Kara Young for her featured role in “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.”

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