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Rippin’ & tearin’ & strippin’

Melissa Etheridge on Wolf Trap and why drastic health steps should be weighed carefully

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Melissa Etheridge, gay news, Washington Blade
Melissa Etheridge, gay news, Washington Blade

Melissa Etheridge (Photo by James Minchin III)

Melissa Etheridge
With guest Eric Hutchinson
Tuesday
8 p.m.
Wolf Trap
Filene Center
1551 Trap Road
Vienna, VA
$35 (lawn)-$65
wolftrap.org

When we talked to Melissa Etheridge last year the conversation turned — as one might expect in an election year — to politics. So this time we focused on music. The lesbian rocker plays Wolf Trap Tuesday night. Her comments have been slightly edited for length.

 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Last time you were here you played the Strathmore, which is kind of stately, whereas Wolf Trap is outside and more earthy. Does the venue affect the kind of show you play?

MELISSA ETHERIDGE: Yes, totally. One of the things I do before I even write out a set list is I go stand on stage and look out and really get a feel for what the venue is like. Is it indoors, outdoors, is the first row up close, will people be able to stand, are they soft seats, hard seats? I’ve been touring for 25 years so I’m very conscious of what kind of show can be produced at each place and it does make a difference in what songs I play. This will definitely be different from the Strathmore show. I love playing Wolf Trap and I don’t think I’ve ever sweated as much on stage as when I’ve played Wolf Trap. It was just so humid last time I was there, I was really soaked even before the show. But yeah, it’s gonna be much more rock and roll out there.

BLADE: How do you manage to do those big rock money notes year after year? Rock singing, of course, often doesn’t use proper vocal technique that they teach you in classical singing and some singers get vocal cord nodules while others, like Tina Turner perhaps or many gospel singers, seem to be able to growl and howl for decades on end with no problem. Have you ever strained your voice letting it rip so to speak?

ETHERIDGE: I learned a long time ago playing in bars how to make that growly rock and roll sound but not harm the vocal cords. It’s not really screaming, it’s like a stage scream. That and having a good understanding of how not to tax the voice too much in doing that style of singing, also helps. I usually don’t sing more than three night in a row. I can do four, but it will start to wear down after awhile and the shape of my voice is definitely related to everything. If I’m tired, if I haven’t eaten right, if I’m stressed, all those things affect it. But as long as I can eat right and sleep well, I can be on the road and do the rock and roll stuff out there every night.

 

BLADE: How have you found the right balance throughout your career of knowing when to play up the all-out rock stuff versus having enough of a commercial, pop/AC vibe on your various projects to get some radio and mainstream exposure? Have you given much thought to those sorts of things as you’ve been writing and recording various records?

ETHERIDGE: Yeah, it’s been a big part of understanding radio and the music business in general and then just when you kind of have a handle on it, of course it changes much like it did in the mid-‘90s when I was really at the pinnacle of it. As it should — young kids grow up and they have their own stuff and I get that. I stopped, I guess around the turn of the century, trying to make my music for radio because I think that would just have been selling myself out and I realized I had a strong live audience that was not going away and would still come see me play, so I really dedicated myself to making the music that I love and not trying to be so much pop. Which is fine — I mean, I love a good pop song like everybody else does, but I don’t limit myself to that anymore. The most important thing in my mind when I’m writing and recording is how is this going to translate to the live stage. That’s more the guideline.

 


BLADE: And yet many veteran acts who have that loyal fan base have great numbers the first week out with a new album and like you said, do fine filling decent-size venues, yet without any radio traction, the albums can come and go so quickly it seems. Has there been any frustration with that at various times? Any sense of a diminishing return for all the hard work?

ETHERIDGE: Well yeah, of course you always hope there’s maybe something there radio can hold on to a little and you would always like to make your record company a little money, that’s always nice. Yet I really have learned to let it go because I think the music does sort of manage to find its own way. I just stumbled on some online music site where these two rock critics were saying my last album “4th Street Falling,” that if it had been released by some up-and-coming singer, it would have really represented kind of the future of rock and roll or something so yes, there is sometimes an advantage to being not as established but I wouldn’t trade where I am at all to be up and coming. I’m very happy with where I am overall and I feel I have a great deal of industry respect and I’m fine with that.

 

BLADE: You’ve been on Island your whole career, which is almost unheard of in this day and age. I’m sure the whole staff has changed since you started …

ETHERIDGE: Not a single person is still there from then.

 

BLADE: How have you navigated all the changeover?

ETHERIDGE: It’s funny, there was a joke a few years ago there that everytime I had a new album out, “Oh, watch out, Melissa’s got a new one, there’s going to be a complete regime change.” Different times my options have been up we’ve looked around and, you know, Island and Def Jam and Universal — it’s one of the biggest labels there is. I always felt I had good relationships there so why not? The whole business has changed so much, it’s nice to stay someplace if you can.

 

BLADE: Last time you played here, the album was just out. Do you feel freer to sing more of it live now that it’s been out awhile and people have had time to let it sink in or do you skew more hit-heavy for the summer shows?

ETHERIDGE: Last fall I did kind of the “4th Street Falling” tour and I did a lot of new stuff but at that stage, I’m still listening to the new stuff, experimenting a bit and finding out which songs seem to pop more live. So I kind of play the new stuff and see which cuts were really fun for the audience and they tend to stay in the show. But yeah, it’s a summer show — we’re going to be doing all the hits too. We’ll be singing “Come To My Window” at the top of our lungs.

 

BLADE: You had so many great TV duet shows over the years in terms of collaborations with other artists — Joan Osborne, Sophie B. Hawkins, Jewel, Dolly Parton. Any of those especially stand out in your mind?

ETHERIDGE: Well singing with Bruce Springsteen was a dream come true. It was like, “Oh, please let time stop.” That one and singing with Dolly was just one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. I felt like our entertainment ethics were the same. She’s such a great entertainer and we kind of threw things back and forth. It felt like a good game of one on one.

 

BLADE: One that I really remember was when you sang “You Can Sleep While I Drive” as a duet with Amy Grant. Here she was this gospel singer singing a sweet duet with you, which sort of gave it a lesbian undercurrent. It seemed kind of shocking at the time. Do you remember how that came about or if there was any hesitation in her camp to do it?

ETHERIDGE: Trisha Yearwood had covered that song sometime in the ‘90s, so it had kind of been in the country world, then when Amy came in and we were talking about songs we could do, she said, “Well, I want to sing ‘You Can Sleep While I Drive.’” I’ve sang that with more people than any other song. It just kind of lends itself to that harmony duet feeling. I’ve known her for a long time. I met her in Europe back in ’88 and have been friends with Vince too. You know she kind of went through her own tabloid-y thing but she’s just so open and very very easygoing so that wasn’t even part of it. It was just like, “Let’s sing together and just enjoy it.”

 

BLADE: How prolific have you been in the studio over the years? Did you overcut tracks for very many of your albums? Is there going to be a killer Melissa Etheridge box set of outtakes and rareties someday?

ETHERIDGE: I can’t believe you asked that because yes, I’m working on that right now. The record company came to me and said, “You know, it’s been 25 years, let’s put out a box set.” But I didn’t want to just say, “OK, here’s my songs again.” I think my fans will enjoy some of these other things so I started going back into the vaults and into my storage space and found some tapes I hadn’t even remembered. So it’s going to be eight CDs and there’s live tracks, covers, solo demo tracks, a recording of me made when I was 14, everything that didn’t make it onto an album, pictures and videos. I even found a TV show I did back in 1982 in L.A.

 

BLADE: ETA?

ETHERIDGE: I don’t know the exact date right off, but it will be in November.

 

BLADE: Where do you keep your Grammys, platinum albums and Oscar?

ETHERIDGE: I have a lovely office I share with my gal, Linda.

 

BLADE: You and Linda (Wallem) are still together?

ETHERIDGE: Oh yes, yes, yes. I finally got it right. It’s a bunch of things. It’s a grown-up relationship.

 

BLADE: As a breast cancer survivor yourself, what did you think of Angelina Jolie’s announcement?

ETHERIDGE: I have to say I feel a little differently. I have that gene mutation too and it’s not something I would believe in for myself. I wouldn’t call it the brave choice. I actually think it’s the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer. My belief is that cancer comes from inside you and so much of it has to do with the environment of your body. It’s the stress that will turn that gene on or not. Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything but it never comes to cancer so I would say to anybody faced with that, that choice is way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do and to really consider the advancements we’ve made in things like nutrition and stress levels. I’ve been cancer free for nine years now and looking back, I completely understand why I got cancer. There was so much acidity in everything. I really encourage people to go a lot longer and further before coming to that conclusion.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Pammy Humphries

    June 14, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Good interview

  2. Helen Nickole

    June 18, 2013 at 1:28 am

    I am sorry but each persons decision is their own to make and no one cuts their breasts off because they were uninformed about their choice. Whether the choice was bravery or fearful is a mute point. The choice is what that person feels is best for them. I have breast cancer, my mother has breast cancer stage 4, my grandmother died from breast cancer and believe me if my child wanted to have this surgery to prevent going through this disease or at least to give them much better odds against it, I would support them and not tell them they won't get cancer unless they cause it them self. Stress and diet are wonderful things to get under control but they alone aren't enough to control DNA. Melissa dear you probably needed a support group or some better advise because you really are misinformed.

    • Bette Westman

      June 18, 2013 at 1:45 am

      So she's saying she caused it?

    • Joanna Danielle Sorensen

      June 18, 2013 at 2:56 am

      Each person's choice is what is best for them. We have to choose our happiness or our longevity or that which is important to us. I have had Last Rites twice and I am still going. Part of what keeps me smiling is knowing that sick or not we are all terminal. At some point we all meet our maker. Our souls are immortals but our bodily vessels house us for an indeterminate period of time. Be good to ourselves and to each other. Respect, love, and ensure the welfare of each other.

    • Diss Infectant

      June 18, 2013 at 5:34 am

      Sounds like she's blaming the ex, which is doubly horrible and nasty.

    • Helen Nickole

      June 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      The way I understood it she was saying that she believes she now knows she got breast cancer because she didn't control her stress and her diet was much to acidic. I have heard these things blamed before and although I would agree as I said they are wonderful things to control they do not change DNA. Bette it seemed to be what she was saying because the point was said that Angelina Jolie made the decision to have her breasts removed a choice made in fear. That had she been better informed she would have realized she could have controlled her DNA through making better choices regarding stress and diet. (By the way I did not know this had been posted to facebook. I hope I didn't shock anyone with a whole bunch of personal information.) My opinion however is very strong that we do not need to criticize anyone's choice of whether or not to make this very difficult decision because ultimately it should always be about what we deem best for our own situation.

    • Helen Nickole

      June 21, 2013 at 12:01 am

      Also I think it would be wonderful if no women had to have their breasts cut off to avoid or eliminate cancer. But unfortunately right now that is what we have.

    • Joanna Danielle Sorensen

      June 21, 2013 at 1:45 am

      Exactly why research towards more effective treatments continue. Have faith in your doctors, those who are close to you, and your Creator. Believing in health is an important step toward healing.

    • Helen Nickole

      June 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      Hi Joanna, Well actually I am in remission but still have two years left on anti estrogen medications to help keep the cancer from coming back. My mother is terminal (like us all only sooner) but she is getting great care and we hope she will still be around for awhile. So it is an interesting introduction because we have (never having been in this situation before) not known what the correct way to bring it up was. We have been noticing that might be the case but weren't sure as I said how to mention it. Or if we should. So Great all out in the open now.

  3. Wendi Schwartz

    June 18, 2013 at 2:11 am

    I have to say that I was a huge fan of Melissa Etheridge in the past. However, she seems to be a very selfish individual. To call someone's decision to have a double mastectomy "fearful?" Really? Ms. Jolie did what she felt was right for her children. She wants to be around to raise them. And diet and stress may help you to some extent, but it won't keep you from getting cancer.

  4. Deborah Koppy

    June 18, 2013 at 4:03 am

    I am generally not an Angelina fan, but in this case, she got it right. When your mother, aunt and grandmother all die of female cancers, you sit up and take notice, especially when you have children. I think she was "fearless", not fearful, as Melissa states. She is one of the most beautiful women in the world and she voluntarily removed a part of her body, that could, arguably, be considered the most womanly. As an RN, I do think that there are external factors, such as diet and stress level that can affect your prognosis, but BRCA is nothing to kid around with. Just because Melissa has it licked thus far, it doesn't mean she's an expert. Her life sounds pretty complicated/stressful to me, what with all the cheating and everything, so I don't think I would be so glib about it this early on.

  5. Diss Infectant

    June 18, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Why would she go there and interject adjectives like 'brave,' or not brave – she just sounds resentful and snipey. Jolie didn't use the word brave, she used the words 'my medical choice.' It's perfectly fine if Etheridge "understands how (she) got cancer," (btw, please share that with the rest of us Einstein) – and feels she can control whether or not she gets it or not simply by force of will…but for the rest of us mere mortals who really can't control external situations, cancer genes and stress levels (btw Ms Etheridge, how'd that work out for you during the years post op when you went through a nasty divorce?), and feel a bit unsure about the Etheridge lentils and kale cure for cancer – why not let us do what we want without insulting us. Signed – an EX-fan.

  6. Lee Podeszek

    June 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    yes helen agree with you.

  7. Julie Norwood

    June 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Come on Melissa, everyone knows you're best buds with Jennifer Aniston. You've got a bone to pick and it has nothing to do with cancer.

    • Diss Infectant

      June 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      More importantly, it seems Brad Pitt was her bud first, he hung around a lot during his 'lost' years even before hooking up w/ Aniston – Aniston became the last gf of his to close out ME's videos (Juliette Lewis, then Paltrow did one, lastly Aniston – first was inspired, 2nd and 3rd were awful)…then when Pitt split/divorced, fell in love with La Jolie, he hasn't kept in contact and it seems Melissa might blame Angelina and Brad's young family for it. Maybe she wanted to meet Angelina, or have her be in a video – and Brad wasn't returning calls. lol Not that Angelina does/did anything to keep Pitt from hanging around this particular ol' pal from the past – they both seem to want what the other wants – so I'm sure she'd be happy if he wanted to hang w/ Etheridge, but obviously he does not…but you know, Angelina exists, therefore Pitt is with her. Hence..meow.

  8. Bonnie A. McGregor

    June 18, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    I do research on how stress can influence biology relevant for cancer. Stress does NOT turn on the BRCA1 gene. We are still learning about the full extent of stress's influence on the body. We do know stress can influence many biological processes that are relevant for cancer (and other diseases like heart disease) such as immune function, DNA damage, lipid levels, blood sugar levels. If you want more information on the science surrounding stress and cancer, you can find it in one place for the next 8 days, our indiegogo site:
    http://igg.me/at/survivorwellness/x/2625594
    We are building a scientifically-based web delivered wellness intervention for cancer survivors. Bonnie A. [email protected]

  9. sandra

    June 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Prevention, Ms Etheridge. Prevention. Same concept as the vaccines babies are given.
    Angelina made the same choice as those women who went through and have gotten the hpv vaccines for cervical cancer. You survived cancer, and we’re happy that you did. You were brave. But not everyone will be as lucky as you. I bet if anyone would have a fighting chance and a choice not to have it, might as well try and do all means not to have it. It is not being fearful. It is about being conscious and aware of life’s possibilities.

  10. Nancy Vermeulen

    June 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Sorry, Melissa, that's just crap.

  11. Amy Edwards

    June 19, 2013 at 12:48 am

    I wonder what her risks were? Obviously not in the 90’s like some of us.
    Pretty sure she would become a brave face then.

  12. Gregory

    June 19, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I *BELIEVE* the woman was asked for HER opinion. She gave it. If you don’t agree, so be it. Stop being such bitches about it.

  13. Alana Danes

    June 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I do not understand what people have against her statement. She gave her opinion when it was asked for and I for one agree with her. I have had several women in my family who have struggled with breast cancer but would never do what Angelina did unless I had to. This is not to say she was wrong it's just saying that it's a individual choice. And yes I believe Angelina made her choice out of fear as Melissa said but a understandable one. The disease is very scary.

    • Aly

      June 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      So is the surgery!

      My mom had it, and Melissa owes her and every other woman who has gone through it an apology for her petty, insensitive comments. It’s cancer, not a competition.And if she’s so concerned about toxicity, she should take more care with her cancerous words.

  14. Erik

    June 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Making an absolute statement like — I completely understand why I got cancer — without scientific evidence to back it up is foolish.

    Etheridge believes she knows, but there’s not much evidence to back up her thinking. There’s a high degree of probability she’ll play the fool as a result.

  15. Kara

    June 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Seriously Melissa, why would you question how someone else decides to deal with THEIR risk of getting breast cancer. Just because you had breast cancer does NOT make you the expert. You did what you felt was best for you as Angelina did what she believes is best for her. It is not a matter of being brave. It is a matter of making the choice after many discussions with medical professonals. It is a very personal and i would bet difficut choice. Keep to what you know and stay out of other peoples lives. And if you are a Jennifer fan and your comment came from your misguided loyality to someone who appears to only pretend to have moved on. Shame on you.

  16. Jacqueline Woll

    June 20, 2013 at 7:00 am

    Hmm…regarding Angelina, all I can say is what parent doesn't have stress in their lives. Bravo for Angiedoing what's in the best interest of her children n Brad. My mother didn't develop breast cancer till in her 70's n if she would've been able to control it she would've.

  17. Aly

    June 20, 2013 at 3:18 am

    My grandmother and one of my aunts died of breast cancer, and both were about as healthy living as you can be. One aunt is in remission. The others have the gene. My mom did as well, and had the surgery. That’s what I have against her statement. She owes women like my mother an apology. She also made factually incorrect statements regarding the gene that perpetuate the negativity toward people like my mother that have had the surgery, and endangers lives. There’s opinions and there’s providing misinformation. Also, insurance companies authorize this surgery for non-celebrities like us with the same mutation as Angelina Jolie not because they are in the business of handing money to hysterical females but because it’s medically necessary. Most people who get breast cancer do not have the gene, but most people with the gene WILL get breast cancer, and all the healthy living in the world won’t change that. I’m fairly certain our doctors and ourselves know a lot more about breast cancer, genetics and medicine than some musician who credits medical marijuana for her insights. It’s good for pain management and keeping calm, but it doesn’t increase mental awareness nor does it augment a medical degree.

  18. Barbara Swanson

    May 24, 2015 at 12:16 am

    I found this amazing site to make a living online…I’m now close to making $3500 a month. http://tinyurl.CoM/os9ok4y

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Out & About

Must-attend events in D.C. this fall

Mix of in-person and virtual exhibits, brunches, and more

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fall LGBT virtual events, Washington Blade
SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir addresses the crowd at the 2018 Fall Brunch. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Last year, the pandemic forced many event planners to cancel their projects or move everything entirely online. However, this year, with the number of vaccinated people increasing and the mask mandate in place, events are slowly returning to the in-person format. Check out the list below for a good mix of both in-person and virtual events to watch out for this fall:

Smithsonian Associates will be hosting “Palestinian Embroidery 101: The Tatreez Sampler Series” on Friday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. This online event teaches the art of Palestinian embroidery including the basic Palestinian cross-stitch and how to create a tatreez sampler, using Aida cloth fabric. The class will be taught by Wafa Ghnaim who began her training in embroidery with her mother at age 2. Visit the Smithsonian’s website for more information.

Join Capital Pride Alliance virtually to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on Monday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. This event will focus on “[supporting] the continuous fight for full inclusion for transgender and intersex servicemembers.” Keynote speakers include former Rep. Patrick J. Murphy, and Jennifer Dane, Air Force veteran and Executive Director of the Modern Military Association of America. Guests will get to hear extraordinary stories from service members of all branches and learn more about the fight for the codification of transgender military service and the effort to lift the ban on service for intersex individuals and folks living with HIV. For more information, visit Capital Pride Alliance’s website.

The 2021 LGBTQ Intergenerational Symposium will be on Thursday, Sept. 23. This is a free two-day virtual event sponsored by the DC Department of Aging and Community Living, Capitol Hill Village, and the DC Villages and is open to LGBTQ individuals and allies of all ages. There will also be a virtual kickoff for attendees, speakers, and organizations that are involved to get to know each other. Each day will include two health and wellness sessions, one panel, and breakout session.

The Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics will host New Vistas in Astronomy: Imaging a Black Hole on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. This event will celebrate the 51st year of the New Vistas in Astronomy lecture series at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO). There will be speakers from across the many scientific divisions of the Center for Astrophysics Harvard & Smithsonian led by founding director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Shep Doeleman. 

DC Front Runners will host its 40th anniversary party on Saturday, Sept. 25 at Jack Rose Dining Saloon at 3 p.m. This event will be held outside on the large roof deck. Tickets for this event are $35 and cover two drinks, passed appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. You are welcome to open a tab at the bar after your drink tickets have been used. Drink tickets for paid attendees will be available starting mid-September at the runs, and also available day of the event by contacting Josh Yankovic. More information about this event is available on DC Front Runners’ website.

All Things Go and the Capital Pride Alliance are joining forces to launch “Club Pride”, a third stage and dance party at the All Things Go Music Festival on Saturday, Oct. 16. This all-day event will feature special intimate artist performances, DJ sets, special guests and more throughout the day. Access to Club Pride is included with all festival tickets. Club Pride is located at Merriweather Post Pavilion’s 9:32 Stage. For more information, visit Capital Pride Alliance’s website.

Capital Pride Alliance will host the first ever “Colorful Fest” that will include a block party and street fair on Sunday, Oct. 17. The Street Fair will feature small independent businesses, community groups, artisans, and food along 15th Street. The Block Party will include entertainment, an As You Are Bar pop-up, and dancing throughout the day for guests 21 and over. For more details, visit Capital Pride Alliance’s website.

Smithsonian Associates presents “The Philosophical Thought of Thomas Aquinas” on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m. This event will be hosted online and Aquinas scholar Gregory T. Doolan will explore Aquinas’s philosophical thought. Thomas Aquinas’s work presents one of Western civilization’s most comprehensive philosophical systems. Although a theologian by profession, this man of faith dedicated much of his vast writings to discerning what the human mind can learn independently of faith. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s website. 

“SMYAL’s Annual Fall Brunch” will be on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the Marriott Marquis. This event ​​includes a cocktail reception featuring a silent auction, three-course brunch, and a chance to hear from some of the LGBTQ community’s most inspiring leaders. This event will bring together LGBTQ individuals and allies, friends, and families in support of the inspirational youth SMYAL works with every day. For more information, visit SMYAL’s website.

DC Area Transmasculine Society (DCATS) will host “Transmasculine and Nonbinary Social Hour on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. at Red Bear Brewing Company. At this social hour, DCATS will be accepting binder donations and will also give out needles to those who are in need. All partners and friends are required to be accompanied by a transmasculine individual. The event is reservation-only, and you can RSVP online on Eventbrite. 

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Music & Concerts

Live music returns to D.C.

9:30 club, The Anthem, Fillmore, and more fill up calendars for fall

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HER performs at the Anthem on Oct. 25.

Fall is almost here. And, with cooler weather fast approaching and more people getting vaccinated, many venues have decided to go full force with their programming. Here are a few events you should make sure to mark in your calendar. 

The Anthem

Juanes will grace The Anthem’s stage on Tuesday, Sept. 21 for his Origen Tour. The show begins at 8 p.m. and tickets can be purchased for $55 on Ticketmaster. 

Other fall highlights include: Violent Femmes with Flogging Molly on Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m.; Dead Can Dance on Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.; HER – Gabi Wilson on Oct. 25; and former TV anchor Katie Couric brings her book tour to the venue on Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

9:30 Club/Merriweather

Bob Mould returns to 9:30 to perform along with Kestrels on Sept. 18; Tinashe brings her “333 Tour” on Oct. 3; Alec Benjamin sold out his first show on Oct. 4 so a second has been added for Oct. 5; and for all the ‘90s fans, White Ford Bronco performs Oct. 15. 

“92Q End of Summer Jam Featuring Future” will be at the Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sunday, Sept. 19. This event will feature prominent artists including rappers Future, City Girls, Moneybagg Yo, and 42 Dugg. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are selling for as low as $99, and you can purchase them on Ticketmaster.

U Street Music Hall will present Luttrell on Saturday, Sept. 25. At 10:00p.m. D.C. DJ Sabeel Cohan will also play a set at the show. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster and cost $20. 

Fillmore

Jack Harlow, who recently featured on gay singer Lil Nas X’s song “Industry Baby,” will be performing at Fillmore on Saturday, Sept. 18 for his Crème de la Crème Tour. Babyface Ray and Mavi will be performing as well. This standing room only event begins at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $29.50. For more information, visit Fillmore’s website.

Tanzanian superstar and BET Best International Act award nominee Diamond Platnumz will perform on Sunday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. Tickets are as low as $39.99 for general admission. This event is a standing room only event. More information is available on Fillmore’s website.

Fillmore will also present Nigerian singer Omah Lay on Monday, Sept. 27. Tickets are $27 and doors open at 8 p.m. This is a standing room only event.

Dance Gavin Dance will play at Fillmore as part of their Afterburner Tour on Wednesday, Sept. 29. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets can be purchased for $29.50 on Fillmore’s website. 

Howard Theatre

Jay Electronica and Smoke DZA will perform at the Howard Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 9 p.m. A-King will host the event. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the concert begins at 9 p.m. Advance tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on the Howard Theatre’s website.

Grammy Award-winning singer iLe will bring some bolero tunes to the Howard Theatre on Friday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets cost $39. Visit the Howard Theatre’s website for more information. 

“The Biggest ‘90s Party Ever” will be hosted on Saturday, Oct. 9 at 8:15 p.m. Join the Howard Theatre in your best ‘90s-inspired attire for a night of nostalgic vibes and ‘90s tunes. Advance tickets are $34.99 and tickets purchased the day of the event will be $60. For more information, visit the Howard’s website.

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Theater

Local theater comes back strong as in-person options abound

From Shakespeare to holiday fare, something for all tastes

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Levi Kreis is an out actor who plays Hermes in the national tour of ‘Hadestown’ soon opening at the Kennedy Center Opera House. (Photo courtesy of Kreis)

This time last year, theaters were scrambling to attract audiences – mostly with streaming and open-air performances. Like most seasons, results were mixed, but considering the challenges, it was a spectacular effort overall. While the pandemic hasn’t ended, many companies are reopening with in-person, indoor performances. Here’s a selection of offerings from some area theaters that are welcoming back audiences, provided patrons come both masked and with proof of vaccination. 

In Columbia Heights through Oct. 3, GALA Hispanic Theatre presents Federico García Lorca’s “Doña Rosita la soltera” (Doña Rosita the Spinster), performed in Spanish with English surtitles. An exploration of what the martyred gay playwright called “the grotesque treatment of women” in Spain, the 1935 work spans a decade of a woman’s life in a quickly modernizing society prior to the first World War. The source material is adapted by out playwright Nando López and the production is staged by out director José Luis Arellano who won a Helen Hayes Award in 2016 for staging GALA’s production of Lorca’s “Yerma,” the story of another woman. Galatheatre.org

On the Southwest Waterfront, Arena Stage has kicked off a busy fall season with “Toni Stone” (through Oct. 3). Written by Lydia R. Diamon, it’s the remarkable story of the first woman to play baseball in the Negro Leagues, also making her the first woman to play professionally in a men’s league in the 1950s. Santoya Fields stars in the title role, and Broadway’s Pam MacKinnon directs. Arenastage.org

Also, through Oct. 3, Round House Theatre presents “Quixote Nuevo,” Octavio Solis’ contemporary take on Cervantes’ classic directed by Lisa Portes. The playwright re-imagines knight Don Quixote as a professor whose fantasies take center stage in a Texas border town. Herbert Siguenza makes his Round House debut as Don Quixote/the professor.  

Next up, it’s the regional premiere of Lauren Yee’s “The Great Leap” (Nov. 10 – Dec. 5), a socio-political fable set against basketball and Tiananmen Square. Jennifer Chang directs.  Roundhousetheatre.org

At Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, it’s Mike Lew’s “Teenage Dick” (Sept. 22 – Oct. 17), a modern, darkly comic, high school-set take on Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” Despite being bullied because of his cerebral palsy, Richard (Gregg Mozgala) is determined to be voted senior class president, and – like his ruthless Shakespearean namesake – he will do whatever it takes to win. Moritz von Stuelpnagle directs. Woollymammoth.net

At Olney Theatre Center (OTC) fall is “The Thanksgiving Play” (Sept. 29 – Oct. 31), Larissa FastHorse’s comedy about “white wokeness,” directed by Raymond O. Caldwell who is Black, Asian, and gay. The cast includes Parker Drown, Megan Graves, David Schlumpf, and Dani Stoller. 

OTC’s largest production of the year is “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” (Nov. 5-Jan. 2, 2022). The tale is directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and stars out actor Jade Jones as Belle and Evan Ruggiero as the Beast. 

And the holiday tradition continues at OTC with Paul Morello’s solo show, “A Christmas Carol” (Nov. 26- Dec. 26). Over a swift and engaging two hours, Morello gives a faithful retelling of Charles Dickens’ original ghost story. Olneytheatre.org

Helen Hayes Award-winning actor Naomi Jacobson reprises the title role in Theater J’s production of Mark St. Germain’s “Becoming Dr. Ruth” (Sept. 30 – Oct. 24), a mostly cheery bio-drama about the diminutive, famously candid sex therapist. The solo show is again directed by out director/actor Holly Twyford. TheaterJ.org. 

Historic Ford’s Theatre is back with Deborah Brevoort’s “My Lord, What a Night” (October 1 – 24), an intriguing work based on the real-life friendship between famed African American contralto Marian Anderson (Felicia Curry) and Albert Einstein (Christopher Bloch). Fords.org

Synetic Theater is bringing its brand of suspenseful/sinister/sexy to Crystal City with “The Madness of Poe” (Oct. 11-31), a 90-mimute scary trilogy of Edgar Allen Poe works including a re-imagining of Synetic’s 2007 hit adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher” plus two more classic tales from the American master of mystery and macabre. The movement-based production is helmed by the celebrated duo, director Paata Tsikurishvili and choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili, and features a stellar nine-person cast including Ryan Sellars and out actors Alex Mills and Philip Fletcher. Synetictheater.org

The hotly anticipated national tour of Anaïs Mitchell’s “Hadestown” (Oct. 13-30) soon opens at the Kennedy Center Opera House. An enormous hit on Broadway (winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards), the musical “intertwines two mythic tales—that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone—as it invites you on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back.” The cast includes out actor Levi Kreis as Hermes, the role for which out actor André De Shields won a Tony, and continues to play at the Walter Kerr Theatre in the reopened Broadway production.  

And in December, the Kennedy Center hosts the national tours of two hit juke box musicals: “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical” (Dec. 14-Jan. 2); and “Ain’t Too Proud,” (Dec. 15-Jan. 16), the story of Motown’s superstar R&B group, the Temptations. Kennedy-center.org

As part of its 25th anniversary season, Keegan Theatre presents the regional premiere of Adrienne Earle Pender’s “N” (Oct. 23-Nov. 20). The well-researched work is inspired by the success surrounding Eugene O’Neill’s breakthrough 1921 play, “The Emperor Jones,” that famously starred Charles S. Gilpin, the first African-American actor to carry a Broadway show. The hit play propelled both men to stardom; however, within five years O’Neill was world famous and Gilpin forgotten. According to Keegan’s website notes, “Pender’s ‘N’ explores the challenging relationship between Gilpin and O’Neill and how it ultimately hinged on one word — a word that lifted one of them to the heights of American theater and destroyed the other.” Keegantheatre.com

Constellation Theatre Company’s upcoming production is an alluringly titled original piece,“Mysticism & Music” (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21). Longtime collaborators Tom Teasley, A.J. Guban, and Constellation’s artistic director Allison Stockman are joined by Chao Tian in creating this new exploration ancient spiritual literature, poetry, and folklore from all over the world. Constellationtheatre.org

At Mosaic Theater Company, talented out director Serge Seiden stages playwright Anna Ouyang Moench’s “Birds of North America” (Oct. 27-Nov. 21). Over a dozen years, the strained relationship between father and daughter birders is eased while watching birds in the backyard of their suburban Maryland home. Mosaictheater.org 

Signature Theatre is reopening with “Rent” (Nov. 2-Jan. 2), Jonathan Larson’s iconic rock musical based loosely on Puccini’s 1896 opera “La bohème.” Set in New York’s East Village in the early 1990s, the Tony and Pulitzer-winning show tells the story of struggling artists dealing with love, life, gentrification, and AIDS. No other musical captures the place and era better. Signature’s recently named out artistic director Matthew Gardiner directs. Sigtheatre.org

Though the pop icon experience sometimes reads like Greek tragedy, this isn’t the usual classical fare. Shakespeare Theatre Company’s is premiering “Once Upon a One More Time” (Nov. 30-Jan. 2, 2022), a new Broadway-bound musical inspired by the music of Britney Spears (including “Oops!… I Did It Again,” “Lucky,” “Stronger,” and “Toxic”).  

Penned by out writer Jon Hartmere, the libretto turns the happily-ever-after princess fairytale on its ear – in the best way possible. Helming the show are married couple Keone and Mari Madrid, an award-winning choreographer/director team. Shakespearetheatre.org 

And beginning in early December, Studio Theatre presents “Flight” (Dec. 2-Feb. 20, 2022), an immersive installation created by Scottish innovators Vox Motus and designed by Jamie Harrison (“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” magic effects and illusions designer).

Described as “an invitation to bear witness to the personal stories of two of the 300,000 displaced children who make unaccompanied journeys every year,” “Flight” is the story of orphaned brothers who set off on an arduous journey across Europe in search of freedom and safety. 

There are no live actors in this production. Audience members experience the play from individual booths wearing headphones and viewing a handcrafted diorama in which the story unfolds in intimate miniature. Studiotheatre.org

Also, for December, Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington returns to Lincoln Theatre, the historic center of the U Street corridor, with “The Holiday Show” (Dec. 4, 11 & 12).  Along with the usual retinue of tap dancing elves and drag queens, the program includes favorite numbers from past holiday shows, and features performances from the full chorus, soloists, and GMCW ensembles (Potomac Fever, Rock Creek Singers, Seasons of Love and GenOUT Youth Chorus). Gmcw.org

There’s more holiday fare at National Theatre, including “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” (Nov. 23-Dec.5). Also at National is the comedy musical “Tootsie,” Dec. 7-12. 

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