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Seasonal staples

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



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 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

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 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 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 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

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

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’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

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

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

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 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 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 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 or 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

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

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 for details.



New book explores why we categorize sports according to gender

You can lead a homophobic horse to water but you can’t make it think



‘Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates’
By Katie Barnes
c.2023, St. Martin’s Press
$29/304 pages

The jump shot happened so quickly, so perfectly.

Your favorite player was in the air in a heartbeat, basketball in hand, wrist cocked. One flick and it was all swish, three points, just like that, and your team was ahead. So are you watching men’s basketball or women’s basketball? Or, as in the new book, “Fair Play” by Katie Barnes, should it really matter?

For sports fans, this may come as a surprise: we categorize sports according to gender.

Football, baseball, wresting: male sports. Gymnastics, volleyball: women’s sports. And yet, one weekend spent cruising around television shows you that those sports are enjoyed by both men and women – but we question the sexuality of athletes who dare (gasp!) to cross invisible lines for a sport they love.

How did sports “become a flash point for a broader conversation?”

Barnes takes readers back first to 1967, when Kathrine Switzer and Bobbi Gibb both ran in the Boston Marathon. It was the first time women had audaciously done so and while both finished the race, their efforts didn’t sit well with the men who made the rules.

“Thirty-seven words” changed the country in 1972 when Title IX was signed, which guaranteed there’d be no discrimination in extracurricular events, as long as “federal financial assistance” was taken. It guaranteed availability for sports participation for millions of girls in schools and colleges. It also “enshrine[d] protections for queer and transgender youth to access school sports.”

So why the debate about competition across gender lines?

First, says Barnes, we can’t change biology, or human bodies that contain both testosterone and estrogen, or that some athletes naturally have more of one or the other – all of which factor into the debate. We shouldn’t forget that women can and do compete with men in some sports, and they sometimes win. We shouldn’t ignore the presence of transgender men in sports.

What we should do, Barnes says, is to “write a new story. One that works better.”

Here are two facts: Nobody likes change. And everybody has an opinion.

Keep those two statements in mind when you read “Fair Play.” They’ll keep you calm in this debate, as will author Katie Barnes’ lack of flame fanning.

As a sports fan, an athlete, and someone who’s binary, Barnes makes things relatively even-keel in this book, which is a breath of fresh air in what’s generally ferociously contentious. There’s a good balance of science and social commentary here, and the many, many stories that Barnes shares are entertaining and informative, as well as illustrative. Readers will come away with a good understanding of where the debate lies.

But will this book make a difference?

Maybe. Much will depend on who reads and absorbs it. Barnes offers plenty to ponder but alas, you can lead a homophobic horse to water but you can’t make it think. Still, if you’ve got skin in this particular bunch of games, find “Fair Play” and jump on it.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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An exciting revival of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre

Out actor Caesar Samayoa on portraying iconic role of President Perón



Caesar Samayoa (center) and the cast of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company. (Photo by DJ Corey Photography) 

Through Oct. 15
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Harman Hall
610 F St., N.W.

When Eva Perón died of cancer at 33 in 1952, the people’s reaction was so intense that Argentina literally ran out of cut flowers. Mourners were forced to fly in stems from neighboring countries, explains out actor Caesar Samayoa. 

For Samayoa, playing President Perón to Shireen Pimental’s First Lady Eva in director Sammi Cannold’s exciting revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita” at Shakespeare Theatre Company is a dream fulfilled. 

As a Guatemalan-American kid, he had a foot in two worlds. Samayoa lived and went to school in suburban Emerson, N.J. But he spent evenings working at his parents’ botanica in Spanish Harlem. 

During the drives back and forth in the family station wagon, he remembers listening to “Evita” on his cassette player: “It’s the first cast album I remember really hearing and understanding. I longed to be in the show.”

As an undergrad, he transferred from Bucknell University where he studied Japanese international relations to a drama major at Ithica College. His first professional gig was in 1997 playing Juliet in Joe Calarco’s off-Broadway “Shakespeare’s R&J.” Lots of Broadway work followed including “Sister Act,” “The Pee-Wee Herman Show,” and most significantly, Samayoa says, “Come From Away,” a musical telling of the true story of airline passengers stranded in Gander, Newfoundland during 9/11. He played Kevin J. (one half of a gay couple) and Ali, a Muslim chef.  

He adds “Evita” has proved a powerful experience too: “We’re portraying a populist power couple that changed the trajectory of a country in a way most Americans can’t fully understand. And doing it in Washington surrounded by government and politics is extra exciting.” 

WASHINGTON BLADE: How do you tap into a real-life character like Perón?

CAESAR SAMAYOA: Fortunately, Sammi [Connald] and I work similarly. With real persons and situations, I immerse myself into history, almost to a ridiculous extent. 

First day in the rehearsal room, we were inundated with artifacts. Sammi has been to Argentina several times and interviewed heavily with people involved in Eva and Peron’s lives. Throughout the process we’d sit and talk about the real history that happened. We went down the rabbit hole.

Sammi’s interviews included time with Eva’s nurse who was at her bedside when she died. We watched videos of those interviews. They’ve been an integral part of our production. 

BLADE: Were you surprised by anything you learned?

SAMAYOA: Usually, Eva and Perón’s relationship is portrayed as purely transactional.  They wrote love letters and I had access to those. At their country home, they’d be in pajamas and walk on the beach; that part of their life was playful and informal. They were a political couple but they were deeply in love too. I latched on to that. 

BLADE: And anything about the man specifically? 

SAMAYOA:  Perón’s charisma was brought to the forefront. In shows I’ve done, some big names have attended. Obama. Clinton. Justin Trudeau came to “Come From Away.” Within seconds, the charisma makes you give into that person. I’ve tried to use that.  

BLADE: And the part? 

SAMAYOA: Perón is said to be underwritten. But I love his power and the songs he sings [“The Art of the Possible,” “She is a Diamond,” etc.]. I’m fully a baritone and to find that kind of role in a modern musical is nearly impossible. And in this rock opera, I can use it to the full extent and feel great about it.

BLADE: “Evita” is a co-production with A.R.T. Has it changed since premiering in Boston? 

SAMAYOA: Yes, it has. In fact, 48 hours before opening night in Washington, we made some changes and they’ve really landed. Without giving too much away, we gave it more gravity in reality of time as well as Eva’s sickness and the rapid deterioration. It’s given our second act a huge kind of engine that it didn’t have. 

BLADE: You’re married to talent agent Christopher Freer and you’re very open. Was it always that way for you?

SAMAYOA: When I started acting professionally, it was a very different industry. We were encouraged to stay in the closet or it will cast only in a certain part. There was truth in that. There still is some truth in that, but I refuse to go down that road. I can’t reach what I need to reach unless I’m my most honest self. I can’t do it any other way.

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Out & About

HRC’s National Dinner is back

LGBTQ rights organization’s annual gala features Rhimes, Waithe, Bomer



Actor Matt Bomer will be honored at the HRC National Dinner.

The Human Rights Campaign will host its annual National Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The dinner’s honorees include world-famous producers, actors and entertainers whose work spotlights the fight for civil rights and social justice, including Shonda Rhimes, Lena Waithe and Matt Bomer.

A new event, as part of the weekend, — the Equality Convention — will take place the night before the dinner on Friday, Oct. 13. The convention will showcase the power of the LGBTQ equality movement, feature influential political and cultural voices, and bring together volunteer and movement leaders from across the country to talk about the path ahead.
For more details about the weekend, visit HRC’s website.

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