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LGBT-affirming Christmas services

Many D.C.-area churches welcome gays

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MCC DC, Metropolitan Community Church, gay news, Washington Blade
MCC DC, Metropolitan Community Church, gay news, Washington Blade, Christmas

Metropolitan Community Church of D.C. (Washington Blade file photo by Callie Marie)

Many houses of worship in the Washington region are LGBT-affirming. Here are a few that are having holiday services.

Christmas Eve

Foundry United Methodist Church (16th and P streets, N.W.) holds a kid-friendly Christmas Eve service from 6:30-7:30 p.m. with interactive storytelling and glowsticks. At 8 p.m., the church will also hold a Christmas Eve service with scripture readings, music and a homily. For more information, visit foundryumc.org.

Metropolitan Community Church of Washington (474 Ridge St., N.W.) holds a Christmas Eve worship service tonight at 8 p.m. Visit mccdc.com for details.

Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) has carols by candlelight with Rev. Mariann Budde. At 10 p.m., there’s Festival Holy Eucharist with Budde and Rev. Gary Hall. For more information, visit nationalcathedral.org.

Dumbarton United Methodist Church (3133 Dumbarton St., N.W.) offers two Christmas Eve services today at 5 and 9 p.m. The first service is geared toward children while the later service is more formal and will feature Advent worship themes. Visit dumbartonumc.org for details.

National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle, N.W.) has a service tonight at 7:30 p.m. with a musical prelude starting at 7 p.m. For more information, visit nationalcitycc.org.

The Christ Church on Capitol Hill (620 G St., S.E.) holds a festival service at 10:30 p.m. with a choral prelude starting at 10. For details, visit washingtonparish.org.

Saint John’s Episcopal Church (3240 O St., N.W.) presents its Christmas Pageant today at 4 p.m. Later in the evening, there’s a Holy Eucharist service with choral prelude beginning at 8:30 p.m. Visit stjohnsgeorgetown.org for more information.

Seekers Church (276 Carroll St., N.W.) holds a Christmas Eve dinner and service beginning at 6 p.m. For more information, visit seekerschurch.org.

Church of the Pilgrims (2201 P St., N.W.) holds a Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service with performances by a choir, soloists and instrumentalists. Visit churchofthepilgrims.org for details.

Christmas Day

Washington National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) holds Festival Holy Eucharist this morning at 11 a.m. There is a Christmas Day service of lessons and carols today at 4 p.m. followed by an organ recital featuring organists Christopher Betts and Benjamin Straley at 5:15 p.m.

The Christ Church on Capitol Hill (620 G St., S.E.) has its Christmas Day breakfast and service this morning from 7:30-8:30 a.m. For more information, visit washingtonparish.org.

Saint John’s Episcopal Church (3240 O St., N.W.) has a Christmas Day and Eucharist service at 5:30 p.m. For details, visit stjohnsgeorgetown.org.

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Theater

An exciting revival of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre

Out actor Caesar Samayoa on portraying iconic role of President Perón

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

‘Evita’
Through Oct. 15
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Harman Hall
610 F St., N.W.
$35–$134
Shakespearetheatre.org

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

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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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Out & About

MLK Library to spotlight queer Asian writer

Trung Nguyen’s ‘The Magic Fish’ explored

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The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library will host “A Conversation with Trung Nguyen, Novelist” on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.

Nguyen’s book, “The Magic Fish” explores the LGBTQ experience and dives deep into Asian heritage and culture. United States Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius will attend the event and introduce Nguyen.

Admission is free and more details are available on Eventbrite.

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