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May events galore planned for D.C.

D.C. spring events in full swing this month

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VinoFest, gay news, Washington Blade
VinoFest, gay news, Washington Blade, spring events

VinoFest, a ‘super-sized’ wine tasting is this weekend. (Photo courtesy VinoFest)

As the weather gets warmer and people begin to transition their weekend activities from indoors to outside, a bevy of spring events are popping up all over town to satisfy that spring fever. Pride festivals, concerts, a wine tasting and many others are scheduled to make sure no one’s social calendar remains empty.

Capital Trans Pride is at the Reeves Municipal building (2000 14th St., N.W.) on Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. There will be workshops and panel discussions on how to be a supportive trans ally, HIV prevention, Genderqueer 101 panel discussion, name and gender change and more. After the festivities of the day there will be a happy hour at Studio Theatre (1501 14th St., N.W.) from 4-7 p.m.

D.C. Black Pride runs over Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 27 through Monday, May 30.This year’s theme “i am u. u r me. we are Pride” will have both lesbian and gay dance parties, workshops, entertainers, a writer’s forum and a film festival.

“There are still members of the Black LGBTQ community in the D.C. area who feel as through they are alone and isolated as they did with coming to terms with their expression of their sexuality,” says Earl Fowlkes, CEO of the Center for Black Equity. “D.C. Black Pride still draws a majority of our 25,000 or so attendees from the DMV area.  D.C. Black Pride remains an important source of information on HIV/AIDS, spirituality, youth service, men’s and women’s health, and more for the Metro area.”

The Green Festival Expo will be at Washington Convention Center (801 Mt Vernon Pl., N.W.) in D Hall on Friday, May 6 from noon-6 p.m.; Saturday May, 7 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, May 8 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Ralph Nader will speak on Saturday, May 7 on the Green Fest Stage after the screening of “Cowspiracy: the Sustainability.” Other speakers will be owner of Full Flavor Vegan Milan Ross; Co-Director of Earth Rights Institute Alanna Hartzok; Co-Founder of One Common Unity Hawah Karat; and Founder of the Cannabis and Hemp Association Scott Giannotti. Learn about plant-based power, agriculture, yoga and other environmental wellness topics with speakers and numerous exhibitors.

“We believe there is no better time to be in the D.C. area, where decisions about our sustainability policies are being made and climate issues are being addressed and we hope Green Festival Expo can provide a venue for consumers to contribute to the conversation,” says Corinna Basler, president of Green Festivals.

Tickets range from $13.65-37.92. Mothers receive free admission all weekend.

You don’t have to be in Kentucky to enjoy one of the biggest spring events of the season, the Kentucky Derby. Parties across the District will be celebrating the event in style right from home.

Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar (1104 H St., N.E.) will have a Kentucky Pig Roast on Saturday, May 7 at 3 p.m. There will be an all-you-can-eat/all-you-can-drink menu featuring drinks from Anderson Valley Brewing and food such as Pimento mac and cheese, pork belly potato salad and jalapeño cheesy grits. The Kentucky Derby will be shown live at 6:34 p.m.Admission is $48. Dressing up and wearing hats is encouraged.

Melrose Georgetown Hotel (2430 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.) will host its second annual day party for the derby with a live screening of the races. The hotel will serve speciality derby-themed cocktails with no cover charge. Guests are encouraged to dress up.

Sweetlife — a sweetgreen festival, is at Merriweather Post Pavilion (10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, Md.) brings a lineup of chart-topping musical acts on Saturday, May 14. Queer acts are on the bill such as bisexual singer Halsey and gender-queer hip-hop artist Shamir. Other acts performing will be the 1975, Flume, Grimes, PartyNextDoor, Blondie, Eagles of Death Metal and more.

“We are very proud of this year’s sweetlife lineup,” says sweetgreen co-founder Jonathan Neman. “The artists themselves — from Halsey to Shamir — are as diverse and as unique as the D.C. community and truly embody the sweetlife. Through their passion, they help us bring this festival to life, and connect us over a shared love of music and food.”

General admission tickets are $100, general admission pavilion tickets are $125 and VIP Access tickets, which include VIP bars, lounges and restrooms, are $150.

Victory Fund hosts its National Champagne Brunch at the Omni Shoreham Hotel (2500 Calvert St., N.W.) on Sunday, May 15 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Special guests in attendance will be Hon. Chris Abele, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Angie Craig, Rep. Ruben Gallego, Denise Juneau and more. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has filmed a video tribute to Emily’s List, recipient of Victory Fund’s President’s Award, that will be shown at the event. Charlotte, N.C., Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield will give an update on LGBT rights in North Carolina and Victory President and CEO Aisha Moodie-Mills will speak about the 2016 presidential election. General admission tickets are $250 and VIP tickets are $400 and include reception access.

VinoFest at The Yards (1300 First St., S.E.) is Saturday, May 7 from 3-10 p.m. This supersize wine tasting will include eight 2 oz. wine tastings from more than 20 local and international vineyards. Pair the wine with edible treats from vendors such as Luke’s Lobsters, Milk Bar and Maketto. Performances by Jon Batiste and Stay Human, Stephen Colbert’s in house band, the Original Wailers, local D.C. band Paperhaus and more are scheduled. General admission tickets are $55. VIP tickets are $99 and include a premium open bar from 3-8 p.m., VIP stage viewing area and early access at 3 p.m.

Washington Blade hosts its 10th annual Rehoboth Summer Kickoff Party at Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del.) on Friday, May 20 from 5-7 p.m. Speakers will be announced. There is a suggested $10 donation with each guest receiving a drink wristband and entry into a drawing for prizes.

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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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