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It just wouldn’t be December without ‘The Nutcracker,’ ‘The Messiah’ and more

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Elf: the Musical, gay news, Washington Blade, Kennedy Center, theater
Elf: the Musical, gay news, Washington Blade, Kennedy Center, theater

A scene from ‘Elf: the Musical.’ (Photo courtesy the Kennedy Center)

Even if you’re fighting holiday “creep” and don’t want to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, it’s not too early to get tickets for your favorite holiday shows. Here are a few to consider.

The Nutcracker, Joffrey Ballet, gay news, theater,

A scene from Joffrey Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker.’ (Photo courtesy the Kennedy Center)

The Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) brings numerous holiday-themed performances throughout November and December. First, The Joffrey Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” Nov. 27-Dec. 1 in the Opera House. The holiday favorite includes a live orchestra, Victorian America scenery and costumes to accompany the dance. Tickets start from $29.

The Kennedy Center hosts Pro Musica Hebraica’s presentation “The Voice of the Clarinet in Jewish Classical Music: Alexander Fiterstein and Friends,” a Hanukkah concert that highlights the clarinet in Jewish art music, in the Terrace Theater on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start from $38.

Also at the Kennedy Center, “NSO Pops: Happy Holidays! with Brian Stokes Mitchell” brings Tony Award-winner Mitchell alongside the NSO Pops to perform a holiday medley Dec. 12-14. Tickets start from $20.

“Elf The Musical,” the stage musical born from the popular Hollywood film, runs Dec. 17- Jan. 5. in the Opera House at the Kennedy Center. The story follows an orphaned man raised by Santa Claus and elves on his journey to reconnect with his biological father in New York City. Tickets start from $60. Visit kennedy-center.org for details.

The 31st annual Christmas Revels present “Echoes of Thrace: Music, Dance and Drama of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey,” a blend of seasonal carols and Slavonic harmonies with traditional folk characters, at the George Washington Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.W.) Dec. 7-15. Tickets range from $27-$50.

Grammy-nominated artist Matisyahu brings his “Festival of Light” Hanukkah celebration to the 9:30 Club (815 V St., N.W.) Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Experience the classic Christmas tale “A Christmas Carol” in various ways around the area.

MetroStage (1201 North Royal St., Alexandria, Va.) presents “A Broadway Christmas Carol” Nov.21-Dec. 22. The show mixes the song parodies of Broadway show tunes with the classic Dickens’s story. Tickets are $50.

Ford's Theatre, theater, A Christmas Carol, gay news, Washington Blade

Ford’s Theatre’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ one of several adaptations of the Dickens’ classic that will be on regional stages in December. (Photo courtesy Ford’s)

A one-man show of  “A Christmas Carol” plays Nov. 29-Dec. 29 at Olney Theatre Center (2001 Olney Sandy Spring Rd., Olney, Md.). The holiday favorite stars Paul Morella performing the tale in Charles Dickens’ own words. Tickets range from $18-$36.

Ford’s Theatre presents “A Christmas Carol” through Jan 1. The production stars Washington stage actor Edward Gero as Ebenezer Scrooge. Tickets range from $40.80-$99.60.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge Street, N.W.), D.C.’s largest mostly LGBT church, has its annual Christmas concert “A Homecoming Holiday” Dec. 6-7 at 7:30 p.m. featuring the church’s own groups Eclectic Praise, Joyful Strings, Moving Spirit as well as the church’s two choirs. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at mccdc.com.

D.C.’s Different Drummers has its “Holiday Prism Concert” featuring D.C. Swing! And the Capitol Pride Symphonic Band on Dec. 15. Tickets are $20 for aduots, $10 for seniors and free for children 12 and under. No further information is available now, but visit dcdd.org closer to the date for details.

The Birchmere and AM Productions team up to present “The Brian Setzer Orchestra ‘Christmas Rocks’ 10th Anniversary Tour” at The Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) on Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000.

On Dec. 14 at 8 p.m., The Birchmere also presents “What Christmas Means Tour 2013: A Holiday Experience” with JEM & Friends with special guests Patti LaBelle and Ron Isley at DAR Constitution Hall (1776 D St., N.W.). Tickets can be purchased on ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000.

Rams Head On Stage (33 West St., Annapolis, Md.) presents many diverse holiday shows. First, enjoy the Scottish/Irish traditional instrumental and vocal styles during “Christmas with the Celts” featuring Laura McGhee and Michael Stribling on Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. The Celts’ Christmas show has been featured on PBS. Guests must be 21 and over. Tickets are $35.

Next, “Motown and More: A Holiday Celebration” on Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. showcases classic Motown tunes from singers such as The Temptations and The Supremes along with holiday favorites. Guests must be 21 and over. Tickets are $25.

Also, the 15th annual “An Annapolis Christmas” performance is Dec.16-17 at 7 p.m. Enjoy a mix of original and holiday songs performed by an array of local artists. Guests must be 21 and over. Tickets are $32.50.

“Christmas Gift!” runs at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (3800 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, Md.) Dec.13-14. The musical tells the story of the holiday gift exchange tradition in the African-American community. Tickets range from $10-$35. Purchase tickets at claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.

The Washington Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” plays at The Warner Theatre (513 13th St., N.W.) Dec. 5-14. Tickets range from $42-$107. Purchase tickets at warnertheatredc.com.

Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.) presents a couple Christmas-themed performances. Pianist/composer Matt Conner and his friends perform favorite Christmas tunes in “A Matt Conner Christmas” Dec. 11-15. Tickets are $48.60 and can be purchased at signature-theatre.org.

Signature’s annual holiday celebration returns with “Holiday Follies 2013,”a Christmas concert featuring special guest performers, Dec. 17-23. Performers include Madeline Botteri and Austin Colby. Tickets are $48.60 and can be purchased at signature-theatre.org.

Coyaba Dance Theater holds its annual Kwanzaa celebration at George Washington University’s Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre (800 21st St., N.W.) Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. Enjoy live music, dancing and singing in a performance for all ages. Tickets range from $15-$25 and can be purchased online at coyabadancetheater.org.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents “Sparkle, Jingle, Joy” at the Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.E.) Dec. 20-21. The performance features Grammy Award winner Matt Alber. Celebrate the holidays with classic holiday carols like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and new songs like “The Christmas Can-Can.” Tickets are $54 and can be purchased at tickets.gmcw.org.

Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Rd., Vienna, Va.) presents its free annual holiday sing-a-long on Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. Choir and vocal groups from across the D.C. area will lead a sing along of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs. There is also a performance by the United States Marine Band. Voluntary donations for Toys for Tots will be accepted at the entrance. Wolf Trap gift certificates or an annual membership also make great gift ideas! Visit wolftrap.org for the current schedule.

Town (20009 8th St., N.W.) presents “HEATWAVE: Back to the Beach Holiday Celebration” Dec. 5 from 7 p.m.-midnight. There will be musical performances from Ba’Naka and the cast from Town. Music and dancing provided by DJ Chord Bezerra. There will also be a best male and female holiday swimwear contest, drink specials, games and prizes and an underwear fashion show presented by Universal gear. Tickets are $10.

Lesbian gospel singer Jennifer Knapp returns to the region this year with her “Hymns of Christmas Tour” with Margaret Becker on Dec. 11 at Jammin’ Java (227 Maple Ave. E Vienna, Va.) at 8 p.m. Tickets are just $18. Visit jamminjava.com for tickets.

Gay film director John Waters returns to the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) again this year for his “John Waters Christmas” on Dec. 18. Tickets are $49.50 for the 7:30 p.m. show. Visit birchmere.com for tickets.

Out saxophonist Dave Koz brings his “Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2013” to the Modell Performing Arts Center (The Lyric) in Baltimore (140 W. Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore) on Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. Oleta Adams, Jonathan Butler and Keiko Matsui will also appear. Prices vary and a VIP package is available. Visit davekoz.com or Ticketmaster.com for details.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs “BSO: Holiday Cirque” at the Music Center at Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md.) on Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. Listen to holiday favorites while watching a circus performance by Cirque Musica featuring strongmen, acrobats and contortionists. Tickets range from $31-86 and can be purchased at strathmore.org.

Also at the Music Center at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic performs “Handel’s Messiah” Dec. 14-15. Messiah is one of the most frequently performed works in Western choral literature. A free pre-concert lecture will be held before each performance. Kids ages 7-17 are free. Tickets start at $28 and can be purchased at strathmore.org.

Washington Concert Opera doesn’t have any holiday productions planned but is gearing up for its performance of “Il Corsaro” in March at the Lisner Auditorium. The classical music lover on your list would love tickets! Visit concertopera.org for details.

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CAMP Rehoboth’s president talks pandemic, planning, and the future

Wesley Combs marks six months in new role

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Wesley Combs took over as president of CAMP Rehoboth six months ago and is now focused on searching for a new permanent executive director. (Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)

June marks half a year since Wesley Combs stepped into his role as president of CAMP Rehoboth. In a conversation with the Blade, Combs recounted his first six months in the position — a time he said was characterized by transition and learning.

Since 1991, CAMP Rehoboth has worked to develop programming “inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities” in the Rehoboth Beach, Del. area, according to the nonprofit’s website. As president, Combs oversees the organization’s board of directors and executive director, helping determine areas of focus and ensure programming meets community needs.

For Combs, his more than three decades of involvement with CAMP Rehoboth have shaped the course of his life. In the summer of 1989 — just before the organization’s creation — he met his now-husband, who was then living in a beach house with Steve Elkins and Murray Archibald, CAMP Rehoboth’s founders.

Since then, he has served as a financial supporter of the organization, noting that it has been crucial to fostering understanding that works against an “undercurrent of anti-LGBTQ sentiment” in Rehoboth Beach’s history that has, at times, propagated violence against LGBTQ community members.

In 2019, after Elkins passed away, Combs was called upon by CAMP Rehoboth’s Board of Directors to serve on a search committee for the organization’s next executive director. Later that year, he was invited to become a board member and, this past November, was elected president.

Combs noted that CAMP Rehoboth is also still recovering from the pandemic, and is working to restart programming paused in the switch to remote operations. In his first six months, he has sought to ensure that people feel “comfortable” visiting and engaging with CAMP Rehoboth again, and wants to ensure all community members can access its programming, including those from rural parts of Delaware and those without a means of getting downtown.

Still, Combs’s first six months were not without unexpected turns: On May 31, David Mariner stepped down from his role as CAMP Rehoboth executive director, necessitating a search for his replacement. Combs noted that he would help facilitate the search for an interim director to serve for the remainder of the year and ensure that there is “a stable transition of power.” CAMP Rehoboth last week announced it has named Lisa Evans to the interim director role.

Chris Beagle, whose term as president of CAMP Rehoboth preceded Combs’s own, noted that the experience of participating in a search committee with the organization will “better enable him to lead the process this time.”

Before completing his term, Beagle helped prepare Combs for the new role, noting that the “combination of his professional background, his executive leadership (and) his passion for the organization” make Combs a strong president. Regarding the results of the election, “I was extremely confident, and I remain extremely confident,” Beagle said.

Bob Witeck, a pioneer in LGBTQ marketing and communications, has known Combs for nearly four decades. The two founded a public relations firm together in 1993 and went on to work together for 20 years, with clients ranging from major businesses like Ford Motor Company to celebrities including Chaz Bono and Christopher Reeve. According to Witeck, Combs’s work in the firm is a testament to his commitment to LGBTQ advocacy.

“Our firm was the first founded primarily to work on issues specific to LGBTQ identities, because we wanted to counsel corporations about their marketing and media strategies and working in the LGBTQ market,” he explained. By helping develop communications strategies inclusive of those with LGBTQ identities, Combs established a background of LGBTQ advocacy that truly “made a mark,” Witeck said.

Witeck emphasized that, in his new position, Combs brings both business experience and a renewed focus on historically underrepresented in LGBTQ advocacy — including people with disabilities, trans people and people of color.

Looking to the rest of the year, CAMP Rehoboth hopes to host a larger-scale event during Labor Day weekend. In addition, the organization will revisit its strategic plan — first developed in 2019 but delayed due to the pandemic — and ensure it still meets the needs of the local community, Combs said. He added that he intends to reexamine the plan and other programming to ensure inclusivity for trans community members.

“CAMP Rehoboth continues to be a vital resource in the community,” he said. “The focus for the next two years is to make sure we’re doing and delivering services that meet the needs of everyone in our community.”

Wesley Combs, gay news, Washington Blade
Wesley Combs (Washington Blade photo by Daniel Truitt)
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Sports

DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records

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The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

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Out & About

10 LGBTQ events this week

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

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From movie nights to dance parties, there is a lot to do in the region this week. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in D.C. that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.


MNSkating’s Pride Too!

Monday, June 27
7:30 p.m.
Laurel Skating Center
9890 Brewers Court
Laurel, Md.
Facebook | Meetup

Join the Monday Night Skaters for a Pride-themed skating party in Laurel, Md. on Monday.


Queen of the Capital at Adams Morgan Movie Nights

Tuesday, June 28
8-11 p.m.
Adams Morgan Soccer Field
Facebook

The Adams Morgan Partnership BID will be showing “Queen of the Capital” from local documentary maker Josh Davidsburg.


Pride Night at Frederick Keys

Wednesday, June 29
6-9 p.m.
Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium
21 Stadium Drive
Frederick, Md.
Facebook | Tickets

Join Pride on the Patio for a night of baseball as the Frederick Keys hold Pride Night sponsored by the Frederick Center.


LGBTQ Families Discussion & Beer Tasting

Wednesday, June 29
7-8 p.m.
Aslin Beer Company
847 South Pickett Street
Alexandria, Va.
Facebook | Tickets

Rainbow Families will have an informal discussion about such topics as coming out, celebrating your child’s identity, being a good ally in the workplace and more . . . followed by a beer tasting! No charge, but donations will be taken.


First Friday LGBTQ+ Social with GoGayDC

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
The Commentary (in the Westin)
801 North Glebe Road
Arlington, Va.
Facebook | Eventbrite

Join GoGayDC for a monthly social gathering in Ballston.


Drag Race All-Stars Viewing Party

Friday, July 1
7-9 p.m.
JR.’s Bar
1519 17th Street, N.W.
Facebook

Get together with other Drag Race super fans for an evening viewing party hosted by Citrine.


Outdoor Movie Night

Friday, July 1
8:30-10:30 p.m.
Stead Park
1625 P Street, N.W.
Facebook

Bring your blanket and catch a movie on the big screen at Stead Park.


FireWerk with DJ Chord

See more than just the fireworks in the days ahead

Friday, July 1
9 p.m.
AquaGrill Reho
57 Baltimore Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Facebook 

Kick off Independence Day weekend in Rehoboth with a no cover dance party at AquaGrill.


Zodiac Drag Contest

Zodiac Drag Contest (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Sunday, July 3
8 p.m.
Freddie’s Beach Bar
555 23rd Street S
Arlington, Va.
$5 cover
Facebook

The monthly amateur drag competition returns to Freddie’s on Sunday. Check out the new talent (or try it out yourself).


Flashy 4th of July Weekend

Sunday, July 3 – Monday, July 4
10 p.m.
Flash
645 Florida Aveune, N.W.
$30
Facebook | Eventbrite

Celebrate Independence Day with a Flashy 4th of July on the dance floor of Flash.


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