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Traveling with M-I-C-K-E-Y

Former competitive figure skater found home with Disney on Ice



Joshua Flores, Mowgli, Disney on Ice, The Jungle Book, gay news, Washington Blade
Joshua Flores, Mowgli, Disney on Ice, The Jungle Book, gay news, Washington Blade

Joshua Flores as Mowgli from ‘The Jungle Book’ in Disney on Ice, which opens at the Patriot Center next week. (Photo courtesy Disney on Ice)

When he was 10 years old, Joshua Flores laced up a pair of ice skates for the first time and knew skating was something he wanted to do for a long time.

“I always loved the music that came with figure skating as well as the movement and gracefulness,” he says. “I loved to jump and spin. I remember being little and pretending to skate with my socks on, on the living room floor when I first saw figure skating on TV.”

Almost two decades later, the out and proud young man continues to live his dream as part of the Disney on Ice tour.

“I competed in figure skating until I was 18 and then when it was over, I wanted to find something that would still let me do what I loved,” he says. “My coach suggested I send in a videotape to Disney on Ice and see what happens, and I filmed me doing all my tricks and a week later they called me.”

That was 10 years ago, and Flores has traveled the globe as he skates in productions all over the world. It’s more than the Rockford, Ill., resident ever imagined.

“I’ve been to Japan, Australia, Europe, South America … it’s hard to keep track of all the places I have been,” he says. “The traveling is awesome because I get to experience cultures around the world, and I’m a huge food person. I love tasting food from everywhere.”

Currently, Flores skates as “The Jungle Book’s” Mowgli in a Disney on Ice production entitled, “Let’s Celebrate!” but he’s also seen time playing John Darling from “Peter Pan,” a turtle in “Finding Nemo” and a student in “High School Musical.”

“At first, it was difficult to get used to skating with a mask or in costume, but you get used to it and learn more about your skills,” he says. “I love the rush of adrenaline when I skate out and see a huge audience screaming with smiles and laughter. I always like performing to a crowd.”

The best thing that’s come from being with Disney on Ice, he says, it that he met his boyfriend (Nicholas Kelly, also a skater in the show) five years ago and they’ve been able to travel the world together.

“We work together and are around each other 24/7 because of our jobs, and we learn so much about each other, nothing can really break us apart,” Flores says. “Touring the world together is amazing and I am very lucky, definitely.”

Being gay has never been a problem for Flores in his dealings with Disney or the other skaters. There are a number of ice skaters working for the company who are part of the LGBT community.

“We have a huge, diverse group with people from around the world so everyone gets used to each other, and I’ve never experienced any problems on tour,” he says. “We’re one big happy family.”

Flores calls Lady Gaga one of his role models because she is a constant reminder to him that you can be completely different in so many ways. “You should love yourself for who you are and enjoy and love life,” he says.

“Let’s Celebrate,” which plays the Patriot Center from Oct. 23-27 and the Baltimore Arena from Oct. 30-Nov. 3, features 50 Disney characters paying tribute to different holidays around the world.

“It’s kind of like walking into Disneyland and seeing all the characters on the ice right at the opening of the show,” Flores says. “We have a Tea Party with the Mad Hatter, Mickey and Minnie are there of course, and we all help to clean up the party with Fantasia Mickey. It’s so much fun.”

Flores is on the road 10-11 months each year, and while he misses his family, they understand that he’s doing something he loves.

When he finally does hang up the skates, Flores hopes to stay with the company and explore the wardrobe- and character development-side of productions.

“There are people who have been here almost 20 years, and I’m going to stick with it until my body gives out — to the very last piece of the music,” he says.

Tickets for Disney on Ice range from $20-$75 and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets via charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000; via; and at the Patriot Center box office.



PHOTOS: Baltimore Pride in the Park

Annual celebration featured vendors, performers



(Washington Blade photo by Linus Berggren)

Baltimore Pride in the Park was held at Druid Hill Park on Sunday, June 16.

(Washington Blade photos by Linus Berggren)

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PHOTOS: “Portraits”

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performs at the Kennedy Center



A scene from "Portraits," as performed in a technical rehearsal at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, June 15. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performed “Portraits” at the Kennedy Center on Sunday, June 16.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Sophie Zmorrod embracing life on the road in ‘Kite Runner’

First national tour comes to Eisenhower Theater on June 25



Sophie Zmorrod (Photo courtesy of Zmorrod)

‘The Kite Runner’
June 25 – 30
The Kennedy Center

Newly single, Sophie Zmorrod is enjoying life on the road in the first national tour of “The Kite Runner,” Matthew Spangler’s play with music based on Khaled Hosseini’s gripping novel about damaged relationships and longed for redemption. 

“It’s a wonderful time for me,” says Zmorrod. “I’m past the breakup pain and feeling empowered to explore new cities. A lot of us in the cast are queer, so we figure out the scene wherever the show goes.” 

What’s more, the New York-based actor has fallen in love with the work. “I love how the play’s central character Amir is flawed. He is our antihero. He has faults. As a privileged boy in Kabul, he bears witness to his best friend’s assault and doesn’t intervene. He lives with that guilt for decades and gets that redemption in the end.” 

“He does what he can to right wrongs. For me who’s regretted things, and wished I could go back in time, it resonates. Watching someone forgive themselves and do the right thing is beautiful.” 

Via phone from Chicago (the tour’s stop before moving on to Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater on June 25), Zmorrod, whose background is Lebanese, happily chats about sexuality, ethnicity, and acting. 

WASHINGTON BLADE: Looking at your resume, I see you’ve been cast in roles traditionally played by men. And have you played queer characters? 

SOPHIE ZMORROD: Oh yes, both. Whether or not they’re written on the page as queer, they sometimes turn out that way. And that holds true for this show too.  

With “The Winter’s Tale” at Trinity Rep, I played Leontes — the king who banishes his wife — as a woman. So, in that production it was about two women and touched on the violence that women sometimes inflict on other women.

And there was Beadle Bamford in Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” also at Trinity Rep; I played him as a woman who was masculine and wore a suit. It was a great opportunity to explore myself and gender expression. That was a really good experience. 

BLADE: Are you an actor who’s often be called in for queer roles? 

ZMORRAD: Not really. I’m what you might call straight passing. Sometimes I’ve had to advocate for my queerness. To be a part of something. 

Similarly with my ethnicity. I’m called in to audition for the white and Arab roles. It gets tricky because I’m not the exactly the white girl next door and I’m not exactly Jasmine from Disney’s “Aladdin” either. 

This is one of the reasons, I really want people to come see “The Kite Runner,” Audiences need to experience the reality of the wide diversity of Middle Eastern people on the stage. We’re all very different.

And not incidentally, from this 14-person cast, I’ve met some great people to add to those I know from the Middle Eastern affinity spaces and groups I’m connected to in New York.

BLADE: In “The Kite Runner” what parts do you play?

 ZMORRAD: Three characters. All women, I think. In the first act, I’m an elderly eccentric pomegranate seller in the Afghan market, waddling around, speaking in Dari [the lingua franca of Afghanistan]; and the second act, I’m young hip and sell records in a San Francisco market; and at the end, I’m a buttoned-down American immigration bureaucrat advising Amir about adoption.

BLADE:  Your training is impressive: BA cum laude in music from Columbia University, an MFA in acting from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company, and you’re also accomplished in opera and playwrighting, to name a few things. Does “The Kite Runner” allow you to flex your many muscles? 

ZMORROD: Very much. Playing multiple roles is always fun for an actor – we like malleability. Also, there are instruments on stage. I like working with the singing bowl; it’s usually used in yoga as a soothing sound, but here we save it for the dramatic, uncomfortable moments. I also sing from offstage. 

We are creating the world of the play on a very minimal set. Oh, and we do kite flying. So yeah, lots of challenges. It’s great. 

BLADE: It sounds like you’re in a good place both professionally and personally.

ZMORROD: It’s taken a long time to feel comfortable. But I’m on the journey and excited to be where I am, and who I am. 

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