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‘Moonlight’ wins best kiss at MTV Movie & TV Awards

Emma Watson, Million Bobby Brown win first gender-neutral acting categories

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(Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome. Screenshot via Instagram.)

Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome accepted the award for best kiss for “Moonlight” at the MTV Movie & TV Awards on Sunday night.

“Moonlight” competed in the category against Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in “Beauty and the Beast,” Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard in “Empire,” Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in “La La Land” and Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick in “Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates.”

“I really have to start with saying thank you to my parents,” Jerome, 21, told the crowd. “I love y’all so much. But on a real note I think it is safe to say that it is okay for us young performers, especially us minority performers, to step out of the box. It’s okay for us to step out of the box and do whatever it takes to tell the story and whatever it takes to make the change. This award is for that. It’s for us artists who are out there, who need to do whatever it takes to get people to wake up.”

Sanders, 19, dedicated the award to “the unders” and “the misfits,” acknowledging the gravity of two black, queer characters winning an MTV award.

“This award is bigger than Jharrel and I,” Sanders said. “This represents more than a kiss. This is for those who feel like the unders, the misfits — this represents us. We love y’all and thank y’all.”

“This is bigger than @jharreljerome and I.” Congrats on winning Best Kiss ❤️

A post shared by MTV (@mtv) on

Adam Devine hosted the awards ceremony which merged movie and TV categories together for the first time this year. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” won for best reality competition and while RuPaul did not give an acceptance speech on stage, the show’s Instagram posted its thanks.

The awards were also the first to present gender-neutral acting categories in movie and TV. Emma Watson won best actor in a movie and was presented the award by nonbinary actor, Asia Kate Dillon. Dillon, who portrays Taylor Mason on “Billions,” is the first nonbinary actor to play a nonbinary character on a mainstream TV show.

“This is very meaningful to me. Both to be winning the award and to be receiving it from you, Asia [Kate Dillon]. Thank you for educating me in such—in such an inclusive, patient, and loving way,” Watson said in her acceptance speech.

Millie Bobby Brown received the other gender-neutral acting honor with the best actor in a show for her role as Eleven on “Stranger Things.”

“Beauty and the Beast,” the first Disney film to include a gay character, won best movie and “Stranger Things” won the best show category.

 

 

 

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Photos

PHOTOS: GMCW Holiday Show

Chorus performs at Lincoln Theatre

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performed its “Holiday Show” at Lincoln Theatre on Saturday. The Chorus has performances on Dec. 11 and 12. For tickets and showtimes, visit gmcw.org.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Photos

PHOTOS: International LGBTQ Leaders Conference opening reception

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

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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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Theater

Meet the husbands and creative partners behind ‘Christmas Angel’

A funny, redemptive world premiere with a diverse cast

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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
creativecauldron.org

“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 connersmithmusicals.com.   

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