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Cher and Cher alike

‘Believe’ legend isn’t only one with that name coming to town



Cher Lloyd, gay news, Washington Blade
Cher Lloyd, gay news, Washington Blade

Cher Lloyd (Photo courtesy Rams Head Live)

The D.C. spring concert season is every bit as gay and musically eclectic as one might expect.

Coming right up on Sunday evening is Washington Concert Opera which will perform a full-length concert version of the rare Verdi gem “Il Corsaro” with tenor Michael Fabiano and soprano Nicole Cabell. They will perform at 6 p.m. at the Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St. N.W.) at George Washington University. Go to for ticket information.

Pop legends Sting and Paul Simon will perform a benefit concert for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ 40th anniversary on March 12 at 8 p.m. at the Strathmore (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md). Tickets start at $250 and go up to $750.

Lesbian folk duo Indigo Girls come to the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) April 22. The folk/rock duo went from playing together in high school to becoming Grammy winners in 1990 with their hit single “Closer to Fine.” The sold-out show opens with Shirlette Ammons, a lesbian hip-hop artist from North Carolina. Visit for more information.

It’s unofficially lesbian rocker night April 19 at Jammin Java. disappear fear, featuring lesbian front-woman SONIA, plays the venue (227 Maple Ave., Vienna, Va.)  at 7 p.m. The band, which formed in Baltimore, has toured the world and been an advocate for LGBT rights. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 day of show. Antigone Rising, an all-lesbian alt-country band, opens with a 6 p.m. set. The band has performed alongside Joan Jett, the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 day of show. Doors open at 6 p.m. For more details, visit

Art-rock band My Darling Fury plays the Tree House Lounge (1006 Florida Ave., N.E.) on March 20th at 9 p.m. Danny Reyes, who is gay, is the lead singer of the Richmond, Va.,-based band. For details, visit

“American Idol” season six runner-up Crystal Bowersox comes to Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Rd., Vienna, Va.) March 26. The singer, known for her soulful voice, has been cast as Pasty Cline in the upcoming Broadway production “Always … Patsy Cline.” This show is sold out. For more information, visit

Folk singer Cheryl Wheeler gives a performance at the Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va.) March 29 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

D.C. Different Drummers’s Capitol Pride Symphonic Band presents its spring concert “Dances!” at Columbia Heights Education Campus Auditorium March 29 at 7:30 p.m. This is the last performance for the ensemble’s conductor Joey Bello before his retirement. Tickets are $10. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

British pop songstress Cher Lloyd comes to Rams Head Live (20 Market Pl., Baltimore) April 3 at 8 p.m. Lloyd gained attention as one of Simon Cowell’s favorite contestants  on “X Factor U.K.” Since the show Lloyd has found success in the U.S. with her hit single “Want U Back.” Lloyd also performed at Capital Pride last summer. Tickets are $22 in advance and $25 day of show. For more details, visit

Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington has several performances this spring. First they put on a performance of “Von Trapped,” a parody of “The Sound of Music,” at Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.W.) March 14-16. Tickets are $29-54. Next, Potomac Fever and Rock Creek Singers perform “Forte” at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (1313 New York Ave., N.W.) April 11 at 8 p.m. and at The Mead Center for American Theater (1101 6th St., S.W.) on April 19 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $39-44. Then, “A Gay Man’s Guide to Broadway, a performance of Broadway hits including “Book of Mormon” and “Kinky Boots,” comes to the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) May 18 at 4 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$78. Full details at

Cher comes back to the District for her “Dressed to Kill” tour at the Verizon Center April 4 at 8 p.m. Pop/rocker Pat Benatar and Benatar’s husband guitarist Neil Giraldo join Cher. Tickets range from $40.05-$180.50.

Rufus Wainwright, gay news, Washington Blade

Rufus Wainwright (Photo courtesy Lincoln Theatre)

Singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright, who is gay, performs at the Lincoln Theatre (1110 Vermont Ave., N.W.) Apr. 16 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit

The sold-out Sweet Life Festival brings some popular acts in the indie music scene to Merriweather Post Pavilion (10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, Md.) on May 10. Artists performing include Lana Del Rey, Foster the People, 2 Chainz and many more. For a complete list of performances and more information, visit

Pop star Katy Perry brings her “The Prismatic World Tour” to the Verizon Center June 24 at 7 p.m. Perry’s latest album “Prism” featured hit singles including “Roar” and “Dark Horse.” Her previous album “Teenage Dream” received multiple platinum and gold certifications. Tickets range from $41.10-$153.50. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit

Motown legend Diana Ross comes to Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric (140 W Mt. Royal Ave., Baltimore) June 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $70.60-$190.40.

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PHOTOS: International LGBTQ Leaders Conference opening reception

Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott



Politicians and activists from around the world met and mingled at the JW Marriott. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The LGBTQ Victory Institute held an opening reception for the 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference at the JW Marriott on Thursday.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Meet the husbands and creative partners behind ‘Christmas Angel’

A funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast



Stephen Gregory Smith and Matt Conner with pugs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron.

The Christmas Angel
Dec. 9-19
Creative Cauldron
410 South Maple Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046
Tickets:  $35. Students $20.
Masks and proof of vaccination are required

“Ours is like a lava lamp,” says composer Matt Conner describing the collaborative creative process he shares with musical writing partner and husband Stephen Gregory Smith. “We move together in motion in a continual ebb and flow.” 

A couple for 23 years, married for eight, and making musicals together for 11, the talented pair’s current offering is “The Christmas Angel,” opening on Dec. 9 at Creative Cauldron in Fairfax. 

A musical adaptation of the same-named 1910 novel by Abbie Farwell Brown, it’s the story of Angelina Terry (Kanysha Williams), a wealthy embittered recluse who learns the lessons of Christmas from a box of old toys that she casts into the street. Also featured in the hour-long one-act are Ryan Sellers as Horton, Angelina’s butler, and Carl Williams who plays her brother. The angel and toys are brought to life by an ensemble of a dozen teens plucked from the company’s musical theater training program. 

Via phone from their home in Arlington, Smith and Conner shared thoughts on their new show and working style. In attendance are pug dogs Edgar Allan Pug and Lord Byron, whom they call Eddie and Byron in public – otherwise “it’s just too much,” says Conner whose ultimate fantasy involves living on a pug farm where he’d write music and present the occasional show.

Rather than finish each other’s sentences, the duo (both Helen Hayes Award winners – Smith for acting and Conner for directing) expound on one another’s thoughts.

While Conner composes the music, Smith writes the book and lyrics, and together they co-direct. “But there’s no end and beginning where my job ends and his begins,” says Smith. “What we do complements each other’s work.”

Still, there are differences. Smith’s approach is focused. He writes pages at night and edits in the morning. Conner’s method is more relaxed, preferring to sit at the keyboard and talk rather than writing things down. But throughout the creative process, there’s never a moment when the project isn’t on their mind. They can be watching TV or buying milk when an exciting idea pops up, says Conner. 

A clever nod to Dickens, the novel is more than just a female “Christmas Carol,” says Smith. And in some spots, he’s beefed up the 55-page book, fleshing out both storyline and characters including the toys whose shabby appearance belies a youthful confidence. 

He adds, “Every holiday season you go to the attic and pull down the box, or boxes in my case, of holiday decorations and it’s all old but it’s new. That’s the nostalgic feeling of toys from the attic that we’re trying to find through the show.”

The music is a combination of traditional carols performed by a hand bell chorus, and original Christmas songs that intentionally sound very familiar. The score includes songs “Don’t Hide Your Light,” “The Sweetest Gift,” and “Yestermore” – the moment when the past, present, and future come together. 

Also, there’s Angelina’s Bah! Humbug! number “Fiddlesticks,” her great renunciation of the holidays. She believes the world a disappointing place to be, and the sooner realized the better. 

Conner and Smith aren’t new to Creative Cauldron. Through the company’s Bold New Works project, the team was commissioned to write five world premiere musicals in just five years. The result was “The Turn of the Screw,” “Monsters of the Villa Diodati,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Witch” and “On Air.”

Judging from some of the titles and their slightly macabre content, it seems the duo was better poised to write for Halloween than Christmas, but nonetheless, they were commissioned. Creative Cauldron’s producing director Laura Connors Hull brought them the obscure yet charming book that surprisingly had never before been reworked for stage or celluloid, and the pair got to work last spring. 

Conner and Smith agree, “The show is a lot of things rolled up into one.”

Not only is it a funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast, but it’s also a story largely unknown to today’s audiences. Additionally, the show boasts intergenerational appeal while holding messages about Christmas, family, and finding light when you’re in a darker place. 

More information about Conner and Smith, including links to their music and popular podcast “The Conner & Smith Show,” can be found on their terrific website at   

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‘Capote’s Women’ is catnip to older pop culture fans

Revisiting iconic author’s seven ‘swans’



(Book cover courtesy of Putnam)

Capote’s Women
By Laurence Leamer
C.2021, Putnam $28/356 pages

Her lips are locked tight.

Your best friend knows all your secrets, and she’s keeping them; you told her things you had to tell somebody, and she’s telling nobody. You always knew you could trust her; if you couldn’t, she wouldn’t be your BFF. But as in the new book “Capote’s Women” by Laurence Leamer, what kind of a friend are you?

For months, Truman Capote had been promising a blockbuster.

Following his success with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” he was “one of the most famous authors in the world” but he needed a career-booster. The novel he was writing, he teased, would be about “his swans,” seven wealthy, fashionable women who quite personified “beauty, taste, and manners.”

His first swan was Barbara “Babe” Paley, whom he’d met on a trip with the David Selznicks to Jamaica. For Capote, “Babe was the epitome of class,” simply “perfect” in every way; it helped that the famously gay writer was no threat to Paley’s “madly jealous” husband.

Babe’s “dearest friend” was Nancy “Slim” Keith, who quickly learned that if a lady wanted her confidences kept, she didn’t tell Capote anything. She shouldn’t have trusted Babe, either: When Slim left for a European trip, Babe asked if Slim’s husband could accompany Babe’s friend, Pamela Hayward, to a play.

Slim was aware of Pamela’s predatory reputation, but what could she say?

Of course, Pamela, another of Truman’s swans, stole Slim’s man, a scandal that Capote loved.

Gloria Guinness was highly intelligent, possibly enough to be a spy in Nazi Germany. Lucy “C.Z.” Guest was an upper-crust “elitist” with a “magical aura.” Marella Agnelli “was born an Italian princess”; Lee Radziwill, of course, was Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister.

Through the late 1960s, Capote claimed to be writing his masterpiece, his tour de force based on his swans, but several deadlines passed for it. He was sure Answered Prayers “would turn him once again into the most talked-about author in America.”

Instead, when an excerpt from it was published, his swans got very ruffled feathers.

Every time you stand in line for groceries, the tabloids scream at you with so much drama that you either love it or hate it. Or, in the case of “Capote’s Women,” you cultivate it.

And that’s infinitely fun, as told by author Laurence Leamer.

Happily, though, Leamer doesn’t embellish or disrespect these women or Capote; he tells their tales in order, gently allowing readers’ heads to spin with the wild, globe-hopping goings-on but not to the point that it’s overdone. While most of this book is about these seven beautiful, wealthy, and serially married women – the Kardashians of their time, if you will – Capote is Leamer’s glue, and Truman gets his due, as well.

Readers who devour this book will be sure that the writer would’ve been very happy about that.

“Capote’s Women” should be like catnip to celeb-watchers of a Certain Age but even if you’re not, find it. If you’re a Hollywood fan, you’ll want to get a lock on it.

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