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Calendar through May 23

A packed trans pride weekend has concerts, parties and more

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Comedian Vicki Lawrence, Ram's Head, Gay News Washington Blade
Comedian Vicki Lawrence, Ram's Head, Gay News Washington Blade

Comedian Vicki Lawrence comes to Ram’s Head On Stage with her show ‘Vicki Lawrence & Mama’ this weekend. (Photo courtesy the Brokaw Company)

Friday, May 17

Washington Blade hosts its seventh annual Rehoboth Summer Kickoff Party at the Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.) today at 5 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested and will go toward the Washington Blade Foundation. For more information, visit the Facebook event or washingtonblade.com.

Friends of the Library, Montgomery County and the Latino Gay Lesbian and Transgender History Project host inaugural poet Richard Blanco this evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Rockville Memorial Library (21 Maryland Ave.). Blanco is a Cuban-born writer whose family emigrated to Spain, New York and then eventually settled in Florida. He is the author of three books and a bilingual triptych of poems that were submitted for the inauguration. Tickets are $30-$100. Attendees can buy packages that include a signed book. Visit folmc.org for more information.

Whitman-Walker provides free HIV Testing at Town (2009 8th St., NW) starting at 8 p.m. For more information, visit whitman-walker.org.

Saturday, May 18

The Hagerstown Hopes Pride & Diversity Celebration takes place  today from noon-4 p.m. at Doubs Woods Park (1307 South Potomac St., Hagerstown, MD). The event’s goal is to educate, enlighten and entertain the LGBT community. For details, visit pflagcentralmd.org.

Emmy-winning comedian Vicki Lawrence comes to Rams Head On Stage (33 West St., Annapolis, Md.) bringing her show “Vicki Lawrence & Mama, A Two Woman Show” tonight at 8 p.m. One of her most endearing and famous characters, Thelma Harper, also known as “Mama,” was created in the seventh season on “The Carol Burnett Show.” Tickets are $75. For more information, visit ramsheadonstage.com.

The fourth Gaithersburg Book Festival takes place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on the grounds of City Hall in Old Towne (31 S Summit Ave.). This year coordinators are trying a new format to bring more authors and greater diversity. There will be pairings of authors, panel discussions and one-on-one conversations between authors and critics and industry insiders. Food, drink and ice cream is provided. Admission is free. Visit gaithersburgbookfestival.org for more information.

MOVA (2204 14th St., NW) holds its “Blast from the Past ‘80s Night” tonight hosted by Stormy Vain and music by VJ Tre. There will be drink specials for ‘80s themed drinks all night. For details, visit movalounge.com or the Facebook event.

Burgundy Crescent, a gay volunteer organization, volunteers today for the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation at Falls Church PetSmart (6100 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church, Va.) starting at 11:45 a.m. For more information, visit burgundycrescent.org.

Whitman-Walker provides HIV Testing at Capital Trans Pride today from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, NW). The clinic provides testing again at the D.C. Eagle (639 New York Ave., NW). For more information, visit whitman-walker.org.

The Green Spring Garden (4603 Green Spring Rd, Alexandria Va.) hosts its Spring Garden Day on today at 9 a.m. The even features 40 vendors of rare and unusual plants. For more information, visit fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring.

A new New Balance shop opens today in Fairfax’s Mosaic District (2910 District Ave., Fairfax) and will carry the entire collection of athletic shoes, casual shoes and athletic apparel. Several discounts, prizes and raffles will be available today and Sunday. The shop is just steps away from the Dunn Loring/Merrifield Metro stop. Store hours today are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Visit nbretail.com for more information.

Sunday, May 19

The D.C. Center and Professionals in the City host Women’s Speed Dating tonight at 7 p.m. at Finn and Porter in the Embassy Suites Hotel (900 10th St., NW). This event is for bisexual and lesbian women in their 20s and 30s. Admission is $30. For more information, visit thedccenter.com.

Monday, May 20

The Shakespeare Theatre Company hosts an installment of its Classic Conversations with Michael Kahn featuring Audra McDonald and Christopher Plummer tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St., NW). The series of discussions covers the topics of classical theater and the craft of acting. McDonald is both and actor and opera singer, while Plummer is a classical actor who is known for his role in “The Sound of Music.” Tickets are $20-$35. Visit shakespearetheatre.org for more information.

The D.C. Center (1318 U St., NW) holds coffee drop-in for the senior LGBT community today at 10 a.m.-noon. The Center will provide complimentary coffee and a community to chat with. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Bears do Yoga takes place this evening 6:30 p.m. as part of a series at the Green Lantern (1335 Green Court, NW). This is part of a basic yoga series that takes place every Monday and is open to people of varying body types and experience. There is no charge. For more information, visit thedccenter.org.

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Support Group tonight at 7. It is a confidential support group for anyone recently diagnosed with HIV and the group welcomes all genders and sexual orientations. Registration is required and attendees must call 202-797-3580 or email [email protected]. For details, visit whitman-walker.org.

Tuesday, May 21

The Stephen Sondheim production “Company” opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.). The show is about Bobby, a commitment-phobic bachelor, who searches for the answers to love and life in New York City. He observes the joys and pitfalls of marriage from his five couple friends while enjoying the company of the ladies. Sondheim’s award-winning score includes “Being Alive,” “Side By Side,” “Little Things You Do Together,” “Another Hundred People” and “Ladies Who Lunch.” The show runs until June 30. Tickets are $25-$80. For more information, visit signature-theatre.org.

Wednesday, May 22

Whitman-Walker Health (1701 14th St., NW) holds its HIV+ Newly Diagnosed Support Group tonight at 7. It is a confidential support group for anyone recently diagnosed with HIV and the group welcomes all genders and sexual orientations. Registration is required and attendees must call 202-797-3580 or email [email protected]. For details, visit whitman-walker.org.

Thursday, May 23

Lambda Sci-fi has its book discussion tonight at 7:30 p.m. at 1425 S St., N. Tonight the group will be discussing the book “Kindred” by Octavia Butler. For more information, visit lambdascifi.org.

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Photos

PHOTOS: DCGFFL 25th Anniversary Party

Gay flag football league marks milestone at Penn Social

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The D.C. Gay Flag Football league held a party celebrating their 25th season at Penn Social on Saturday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Gay Flag Football League (DCGFFL) held a 25th season anniversary party at Penn Social on Saturday, Sept. 23. Proceeds from the event benefited the LGBTQ youth services organization SMYAL as well as the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Books

New book goes behind the scenes of ‘A League of Their Own’

‘No Crying in Baseball’ offers tears, laughs, and more

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(Book cover image courtesy of Hachette Books)

‘No Crying in Baseball: The Inside Story of ‘A League of Their Own’
By Erin Carlson
c.2023, Hachette Books
$29/320 pages

You don’t usually think of Madonna as complaining of being “dirty all day” from playing baseball. But that’s what the legendary diva did during the shooting of “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 movie, beloved by queers.

“No Crying in Baseball,” the fascinating story behind “A League of Their Own,” has arrived in time for the World Series. Nothing could be more welcome after Amazon has cancelled season 2 of its reboot (with the same name) of this classic film.

In this era, people don’t agree on much. Yet, “A League of Their Own” is loved by everyone from eight-year-old kids to 80-year-old grandparents.

The movie has strikes, home runs and outs for sports fans; period ambience for history buffs; and tears, laughs and a washed-up, drunk, but lovable coach for dramady fans.

The same is true for “No Crying in Baseball.” This “making of” story will appeal to history, sports and Hollywood aficionados. Like “All About Eve” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “A League of Their Own” is Holy queer Writ.

Carlson, a culture and entertainment journalist who lives in San Francisco, is skilled at distilling Hollywood history into an informative, compelling narrative. As with her previous books, “I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy” and “Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds, and Legendary Life of Meryl Streep,” “No Crying in Baseball,” isn’t too “educational.” It’s filled with gossip to enliven coffee dates and cocktail parties.

“A League of Their Own” is based on the true story of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL). From 1943 to 1954, more than 600 women played in the league in the Midwest. The league’s players were all white because the racism of the time prohibited Black women from playing. In the film, the characters are fictional. But the team the main characters play for – the Rockford Peaches – was real.

While many male Major and Minor League Baseball players were fighting in World War II, chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley, who owned the Chicago Cubs, founded the league. He started the AAGPBL, “To keep spectators in the bleachers,” Carlson reports, “and a storied American sport–more important: his business afloat.” 

In 1943, the Office of War Information warned that the baseball season could be “scrapped” “due to a lack of men,” Carlson adds.

“A League of Their Own” was an ensemble of women’s performances (including Rosie O’Donnell as Doris, Megan Cavanagh as Marla, Madonna as Mae, Lori Petty as Kit and Geena Davis as Dottie) that would become legendary.

Girls and women  still dress up as Rockford Peaches on Halloween.

Tom Hanks’s indelible portrayal of coach Jimmy Dugan, Gary Marshall’s depiction of (fictional) league owner Walter Harvey and Jon Lovitz’s portrayal of Ernie have also become part of film history.

Filming “A League of Their Own,” Carlson vividly makes clear, was a gargantuan effort.  There were “actresses who can’t play baseball” and “baseball players who can’t act,” Penny Marshall said.

The stadium in Evansville, Ind., was rebuilt to look like it was in the 1940s “when the players and extras were in costume,” Carlson writes, “it was easy to lose track of what year it was.”

“No Crying in Baseball” isn’t written for a queer audience. But, Carlson doesn’t pull any punches. 

Many of the real-life AAGPBL players who O’Donnell met had same-sex partners, O’Donnell told Carlson.

“When Penny, angling for a broad box-office hit chose to ignore the AAGPGL’s queer history,” Carlson writes, “she perpetuated a cycle of silence that muzzled athletes and actresses alike from coming out on the wider stage.”

“It was, as they say, a different time,” she adds.

Fortunately, Carlson’s book isn’t preachy. Marshall nicknames O’Donnell and Madonna (who become buddies) “Ro” and “Mo.” Kodak is so grateful for the one million feet of film that Marshall shot that it brings in a high school marching band. Along with a lobster lunch. One day, an assistant director “streaked the set to lighten the mood,” Carlson writes.

“No Crying in Baseball,” is slow-going at first. Marshall, who died in 2018, became famous as Laverne in “Laverne & Shirley.” It’s interesting to read about her. But Carlson devotes so much time to Marshall’s bio that you wonder when she’ll get to “A League of Their Own.”

Thankfully, after a couple of innings, the intriguing story of one of the best movies ever is told.

You’ll turn the pages of “No Crying in Baseball” even if you don’t know a center fielder from a short stop.

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Theater

Rupert Murdoch’s powers on full display in ‘Ink’

Media baron helped pave the way for Brexit, Prime Minister Thatcher

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Cody Nickell (Larry Lamb) and Andrew Rein (Rupert Murdoch) in ‘Ink’ at Round House Theatre. (Photo by Margot Schulman Photography)

‘Ink’
Through Sept. 24
Round House Theatre
4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814
$46-$94
Roundhousetheatre.org

Yes, Rupert Murdoch’s loathsome traits are many, but his skills to succeed are undeniably numerous. 

In the first scenes of John Graham’s West End and Broadway hit drama “Ink,” an exciting year-long detail from the life of a burgeoning media baron, Murdoch’s powers of persuasion are on full display.

It’s 1969 London. Over dinner with editor Larry Lamb, a young Murdoch shares his plan to buy the Sun and rebrand the dying broadsheet, replacing the Daily Mirror as Britain’s best-selling tabloid. What’s more, he wants to do it in just one year with Lamb at the helm. 

Initially reluctant, Lamb becomes seduced by the idea of running a paper, something that’s always eluded him throughout his career, and something Murdoch, the outsider Australian, understands. Murdoch taunts him, “Not you. Not Larry Lamb, the Yorkshire-born son of a blacksmith, not the guy who didn’t get a degree from Oxford or Cambridge, who didn’t get a degree from anywhere. Not you.”

Still, Lamb, played convincingly by Cody Nickell in Round House Theatre’s stellar season-opener, a co-production with Olney Theatre Center, remains unsure. But Murdoch (a delightfully brash Andrew Rein) is undeterred, and seals the deal with a generous salary. 

Superbly staged by director Jason Loweth, “Ink” is riveting. Its exchanges between Lamb and Murdoch are a strikingly intimate glimpse into ambition involving an ostensibly average editor and a striving money man who doesn’t like people.  

Once on board, Lamb is trolling Fleet Street in search of his launch team, played marvelously by some mostly familiar actors. He makes his most important hire — news editor Brian McConnell (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh) — in a steam bath. The remainder of the Sun’s new masthead falls handily into place: Joyce Hopkirk (Kate Eastwood Norris) the women’s page editor whose forward thinking is marred by her casual racism; Zion Jang plays Beverley Goodway, an awkwardly amusing young photographer; persnickety deputy editor Bernard Shrimsley (Michael Glenn) who learns to love ugly things; and an old school sports editor who proves surprisingly versatile, played by Ryan Rillette, Round House’s artistic director. 

At Lamb’s suggestion, the team brainstorms about what interests Sun readers. They decide on celebrities, pets, sports, free stuff, and —rather revolutionarily for the time —TV.  Murdoch is happy to let readers’ taste dictate content and the “Why” of the sacred “five Ws” of journalism is out the window. 

Murdoch is portrayed as a not wholly unlikable misanthrope. He dislikes his editors and pressman alike. He particularly hates unions. His advice to Lamb is not to get too chummy with his subordinates. Regarding the competition, Murdoch doesn’t just want to outperform them, he wants to grind them to dust. 

Loewith leads an inspired design team. Scenic designer Tony Cisek’s imposing, inky grey edifice made from modular walls is ideally suited for Mike Tutaj’s projections of headlines, printed pages, and Rein’s outsized face as Murdoch. Sound designer and composer Matthew M. Nielson ably supplies bar noises and the nonstop, pre-digital newspaper clatter of presses, linotypes, and typewriters.

From a convenient second tiered balcony, the Daily Mirror’s establishment power trio Hugh Cudlipp (Craig Wallace), Chris Lee Howard (Chris Geneback) and Sir Percy (Walter Riddle) overlook all that lies below, discussing new tactics and (mostly failed) strategies to remain on top.   

Increasingly comfortable in the role of ruthless, sleazy editor, Lamb is unstoppable.

Obsessed with overtaking the Daily Mirror’s circulation, he opts for some sketchy reportage surrounding the kidnapping and presumed murder of Muriel McKay, the wife of Murdoch’s deputy Sir Alick (Todd Scofield). The kidnappers mistook Muriel for Murdoch’s then-wife Anna (Sophia Early). Next, in a move beyond the pale, Lamb introduces “Page 3,” a feature spotlighting a topless female model. Awesta Zarif plays Stephanie, a smart young model. She asks Lamb if he would run a semi-nude pic of his similarly aged daughter? His reaction is uncomfortable but undaunted. 

For Murdoch’s purposes, history proves he chose well in Lamb. By year’s end, the Sun is Britain’s most widely read tabloid. Together they give the people what they didn’t know they wanted, proving the pro-Labour Daily Mirror’s hold on the working class is baseless and paving the way for things like Brexit and a Prime Minister Thatcher. 

“Ink” at Round House closes soon. See it if you can.

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