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Area museums offer wide-ranging exhibits

Hot summer days are a great time to stay cool indoors while learning about a range of topics

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D.C. museums, gay news, Washington Blade

One of the photos in the ‘SHARKS: On Assignment with Brian Skerry.’ (Photo by Brian Skerry; courtesy National Geographic)

Hot summer days are a great time to stay cool indoors while learning about a range of topics including science, art and history. Whether it’s with kids, friends, a significant other or even a solo trip there are plenty of museum options to take advantage of in the city.

Renwick Gallery is offering “Parallax Gap,” designed by architectural design practice FreelandBuck through Feb. 11, 2018. The piece will be suspended from the ceiling and surround the length of the Renwick. The installation combines both Eastern and Western perspectives in nine depictions of famous American buildings. For more details, visit amercianart.si.edu/exhibitions.

National Building Museum (401 F St., N.W.) hosts Hive, a large-scale model built from 2,700 wound paper tubes, from July 4-Sept. 4. The installation is 60 feet tall with a reflective silver exterior and magenta interior. Other Hive summer programming include behind-the-scenes construction tours and an after-hours program for teens on Aug. 10. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for students and seniors and $5 for Blue Star children ages 3 and up.The museum will also host Hill Country Backyard Barbecue on the West Lawn on Thursdays and Fridays from 4-9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.For more information, visit nbm.org/exhibition/hive.

Foundry Gallery (2118 8th St., N.W.) presents, “A Mathematically Transformed World,” an exhibit by artist Allen Hirsh, through July 30. Hirsh distorted images, ranging from abstract landscapes to President Donald Trump, using mathematical programs he designed himself. Admission is free. Visit foundrygallery.org for more details.

“Connecting the Dots” by Claudia Samper, an exhibit consisting of drawings, paintings and transparencies, is on display at Touchstone Gallery (901 New York Ave., N.W.) from July 5-30. Samper’s work uses avian imagery to examine human communication. Touchstone Gallery will also present its Touchstone Gallery Member Show and work from youth and adults from New Community ArtSpace. Free admission. For more information, visit touchstonegallery.com.

The National Museum of Natural History (10th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.) opens “Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend” on Aug. 3 through 2019. The exhibit will explore the connection between narwhals and the Inuit. Guests can see real narwhal tusks and skulls, Inuit artwork and cultural artifact. An 18-foot, life-sized model of a narwhal will be suspended above the first floor. For more information, visit naturalhistory.si.edu/exhibits/narwhal.

The National Museum of American History (14th St. and Constitution Ave., N.W.) presents “JFK Centennial Celebration,” a commemoration of John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday anniversary, through Aug. 27. The showcase will display nine photographs of Kennedy and his family taken in 1961. It will be included as part of the American Presidency exhibit. Visit americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions for more details.

Artechouse D.C. (1238 Maryland Ave., S.W.) presents “XYZT: Abstract Landscapes,” an interactive, sensory experience, through Sept. 3. Visitors can experience walking on grass or touching sand using modern technology to create a realistic, virtual reality. Guests can view the exhibit during daytime hours from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or evening hours from 5:30-10 p.m. Guests six and up are invited to the daytime showing. Visitors must be 21 and over for evening hours. General admission tickets are $15. Tickets for children, students and seniors is $10. For more information, visit artechouse.com.

U.S. Botanical Garden Conservatory (100 Maryland Ave., S.W.) hosts You Can Grow It through Oct. 15. Visitors can explore the outdoor and indoor gardens while learning the basics of growing plants and how to solve plant problems. The exhibit is recommended for both advanced and beginner gardeners. For more details, visit usbg.gov/youcangrowit.

National Geographic Museum (1145 17th St., N.W.) presents “SHARKS: On Assignment with Brian Skerry” through Oct. 15. Skerry is an Award-winning National Geographic photographer who documented sharks using photography. His work highlights the importance of sharks in the ecosystem and explores why they should be protected and appreciated. The exhibit also includes models, large-scale images, videos, artifacts, and interactive experiences. Skerry’s new National Geographic book “SHARK” is an accompanied piece to the exhibit. Regular tickets are $15. Member, student, military and senior tickets are $12. Children tickets are $10. Tickets also give entry into “National Geographic Presents: Earth Explorers,” an interactive exhibit that lets visitors emulate National Geographic explorers in the field. For more information, visit nationalgeographic.org/dc/exhibitions/sharks.

“Drawing Justice: the Art of Courtroom Illustration” is at the Library of Congress (101 Independence Ave., S.E.) through Oct. 28. Original art depicting courtroom dynamics from cases in the last 50 years are on display in the Thomas Jefferson Building. For more details, visit loc.gov/exhibitions.

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Theater

Queers win big at 77th annual Tony Awards

‘Merrily We Roll Along’ among winners

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(Photo courtesy of the Tony Awards' Facebook page)

It was a banner night for queer theater artists at the 77th annual Tony Awards, honoring the best in Broadway theater at the Lincoln Center in New York on Sunday. Some of the biggest honors of the night went to the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Merrily We Roll Along” and the dance-musical based on Sufjan Stephens’ album “Illinoise.

“Merrily We Roll Along,” which follows three friends as their lives change over the course of 20 years, told in reverse chronological order, picked up the awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Orchestrations. 

Out actor Jonathan Groff picked up his first Tony Award for his leading role as Franklin Shepard in the show, while his costar Daniel Radcliffe earned his first Tony Award for featured performance as Charley Kringas. 

Groff gave a heartfelt and teary acceptance speech about how he used to watch the Tony Awards as a child in Lancaster County, Pa.

“Thank you for letting me dress up like Mary Poppins when I was three,” he said to his parents in the audience. “Even if they didn’t understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment.”

Groff also thanked the everyone in the production of “Spring Awakening,” where he made his Broadway debut in 2006, for inspiring him to come out at the age of 23.

“To actually be able to be a part of making theatre in this city, and just as much to be able to watch the work of this incredible community has been the greatest pleasure of my life,” he said. 

This was Groff’s third Tony nomination, having been previously nominated for his leading role in “Spring Awakening” and for his featured performance as King George III in “Hamilton.” 

Radcliffe, who is best known for starring in the “Harry Potter” series of movies, has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community, and has recently been known to spar with “Harry Potter” creator JK Rowling over her extreme opposition to trans rights on social media and in interviews. It was Radcliffe’s first Tony nomination and win.

Lesbian icon Sarah Paulson won her first Tony Award for her starring role in the play “Appropriate,” about a family coming to terms with the legacy of their slave-owning ancestors as they attempt to sell their late father’s estate. It was her first nomination and win.

In her acceptance speech, she thanked her partner Holland Taylor “for loving me.” Along with Paulson’s Emmy win for “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” she is halfway to EGOT status.

The Sufjan Stephens dance-musical “Illinoise,” based on his album of the same name, took home the award for Best Choreography for choreographer Justin Peck. It was his second win.

During the ceremony, the cast of “Illinoise” performed “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!”, a moving dance number about a queer romance.

A big winner of the night was the adaptation of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders,” which dominated the musical categories, earning Best Director, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and Best Musical, which earned LGBTQ ally Angelina Jolie her first Tony Award.

Also a big winner was “Stereophonic,” which dominated the play categories, winning the awards for Best Play, Featured Actor, Director, Sound Design, and Scenic Design.

“Suffs,” a musical about the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S., which acknowledges the lesbian relationship that suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt had in song called “If We Were Married,” took home awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score, both for creator Shaina Taub. 

Had “Suffs” also won for Best Musical, producers Hilary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai would have won their first Tony Awards. 

Other winners include Maleah Joi Moon for her lead role and Kecia Lewis for her featured role in the Alicia Keys musical “Hell’s Kitchen,” Jeremy Strong for his lead role in An Enemy of the People, and Kara Young for her featured role in “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.”

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Theater

‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’ an irreverent romp at Woolly Mammoth

Solo performance by John Jarboe offers much to consume

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John Jarboe in ‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. (Photo by Teresa Castracane)

‘Rose: You Are Who You Eat’
Though June 23
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
641 D St., N.W.
$60-$82
Woollymammoth.net

With “Rose: You Are Who You Eat,” a solo performance by John Jarboe (she/her), now at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, there’s a lot to uncover and consume.  

For much of the show, you might think the appealing Jarboe is playing dress up in a pair of tighty-whities and sparkly go-go boots, but it’s something else and she’s ready to go there. 

Jarboe is a cannibal. Not in the usual sense. She learned from a well-meaning aunt that while still in the womb, she ate her twin, and that’s what made Jarboe the way she is (a reference to gender queerness).

Despite the aunt’s awkward delivery of family dish, the prenatal news struck a chord with Jarboe: the vanishing twin who would have been named Rose, became increasingly connected to her own identity. Along with the inevitable jokes about eating her sister’s spaghetti thin hair and tasty eyeballs, there’s meaty matter unfolding onstage. 

Not entirely unexpected, Jarboe also harbors mommy issues. Mom, here referred to as “Mother” for the sake of anonymity, is a buttoned-down tax accountant who the more perturbed she becomes the wider her forced smile grows. And while Jarboe needs to have that long overdue talk with Mother, something always seems to get in the way; invariably it’s tax season.

Assisted by some primary source props (a baby book, notes, a string of pearls filched from Mother’s jewelry box), Jarboe further digs into gender expression and identity. Her performance career began in her child bedroom closet with a flashlight and makeshift costume, an obsession to which her parents initially subscribed, later not as much. 

Among the 75-minute-long show’s highlights are five or so songs, rock numbers and redolent ballads composed by Jarboe, Emily Bate, Daniel de Jesús, Pax Ressler and Be Steadwell. 

It’s definitely a solo show conceived and delightfully performed by Jarboe; however, she’s supported by a terrific four-person band (costumed in what appeared from Row D to be rosebush inspired jumpsuits) including Mel Regn, Yifan Huang, Daniel de Jesús, and music director Emily Bate. Bate is a singer, composer and performer who runs a queer and trans community chorus in Philadelphia called Trust Your Moves, an experiment in collective singing designed around liberation and co-creation.

As Jarboe moves into her 30s, she celebrates and incorporates her lost twin as part of herself with a new intensity. She writes letters, yearning for even the most tepid reply. Her obsession with Mother remains a thing too.

Dressed in a sylphlike rosy red gown (by costume designer Rebecca Kanach) Jarboe uses call-and-response (with the audience standing in for Mother) in search of some resolution. It’s beautifully done. 

With various kinds of backing coming from CulturalDC, the Washington Blade, Capital Pride, the Bearded Ladies Cabaret and other New York-based groups, there’s nothing itinerant cabaret looking about “Rose.” Directed by MK Tuomanen, it’s an elevated, visually engaging production. 

For instance, set and video designer Christopher Ash’s projections shown on both a serviceable scrim and later a wondrously huge toile curtain, beautifully feature photos from an ostensibly idyllic Midwestern childhood. We see a young Jarboe not only enjoying hockey, fishing, and hunting, but also pulling off a strikingly girly, cheesecake pose.  

At the top of the show, there’s live video of Jarboe’s outsized mouth devouring wings fished from a bucket of fried chicken. Hints of cannibalism? 

“Rose: You Are Who You Eat” is an irreverent romp, deeply personal yet relatable. It’s an evening of poignantly performed moments, off the cuff laughs, and some awkward/sexy audience interaction. 

As a performer, Jarboe lays herself bare, exposing strengths (rich melodious voice, presence, ingenuity) and weaknesses (garrulity and more than a few un-landed jokes) in equal turns. 

Hers is a world that invites audiences to just let go and go with it. Jarboe’s intrepid journey melds the familiar and the startling. In short, it’s a trip worth taking. 

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Photos

PHOTOS: Capital Pride Festival and Concert

Keke Palmer, Billy Porter among entertainers

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Billy Porter performs at the 2024 Capital Pride Festival on Sunday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 2024 Capital Pride Festival and Concert was held along Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest D.C. on Sunday, June 9. Performers included Sapphira Cristál, Keke Palmer, Ava Max, Billy Porter and Exposé.

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key and Emily Hanna)

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