July 22, 2018 at 3:31 pm EDT | by Patrick Folliard
Fringe Festival, cabaret series among summer theater offerings
Summer theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Host Carlos Bustamante makes sure everybody wins in ‘America the Game Show.’ (Photo by StereoVision Photography)

Not going anywhere anytime soon? Why not make theater a part of your summer in the city?

Following its tradition of big summer musicals, The Kennedy Center presents “The Color Purple” July 30-Aug. 26.  Adapted from Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the national tour of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival production recounts the sometimes heartbreaking but ultimately triumphant rise of an African-American woman in the American South. Details at kennedy-center.org. 

Also, at the Kennedy Center, out actor Alan Cumming brings his inimitable blend of style, storytelling and activism with “Legal Immigrant,” July 28. Cumming promises a cabaret of songs and stories about his life and loves in his adopted homeland. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington joins him for the performance. Details at kennedy-center.org. 

Summer Cabaret Series at Creative Cauldron (410 South Maple Avenue, Falls Church, Va.) features a lineup of terrific performers including the fabulous Jade Jones with “Killin’ Em Softly: A ’70s Soiree,” July 20-21; and out actor Stephen Gregory Smith traces his relationship with composer Matt Conner in “Inspired By” Sept. 7-8. Full details at creativecauldron.org.

At Signature Theatre (4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington, Va.), Sizzlin’ Summer Nights Cabaret Series rolls on with an impressive roster of singers including Erin Driscoll. With Ladies’ Night, July 26, the Helen Hayes Award-winning Driscoll celebrates the female songwriters of Broadway from Golden Age to contemporary songs, including women such as Dorothy Fields, Betty Comden, Jeanine Tesori. Full details at sigtheatre.org.

For a wild time, catch Astro Pop Events’ third annual “America The Game Show. F*ck Yeah!” July 21 at GALA Hispanic Theatre (3333 14th St., N.W.) and July 27-28 at Baltimore’s Creative Alliance (3134 Eastern Ave, Baltimore).

Inspired by TV’s “The Price Is Right” but with a subversive and sexy twist, the show is 90 minutes of outrageous games dealing with fracking, immigration and reproductive rights. A favorite game from last year’s show was called “Grab That Pussy!” which consisted of using tiny fake hands to toss stuffed kittens into holes cut from the folds of a drag queen’s voluminous skirt. 

“‘Game Show’ has morphed over the years,” says director Kate Taylor Davis. “When we started it was the summer before the election. We assumed Hilary Clinton would be our next president. We were optimistic. The show was lot of goofy Americana with a political undercurrent. The second year that changed.  It’s become more political, an expression of our frustrations. Our way of dealing with the madness is to poke fun and still try to find a way to love the country despite what’s happening now.”

Included in the shows cast are local performer Carlos Bustamante as cocksure emcee Carl who “embodies the quintessential American spirit by being supremely confident in his own self-worth and value.” The cast also includes out actors Chris Griffin (best known for his alt drag, oddly comical persona Lucrezia Blozia) as Liberty who stands seven feet tall in her glitter boots, and local actor Patrick M. Doneghy as Justice, a superhero who might have walked out of the D.C. Eagle. Both Justice and Liberty facilitate audience participation in the show’s games. 

“We look forward to doing this every summer. I don’t know what we’d do for fun otherwise,” says Davis who helms the production with set designer Jared Davis. “It’s important for us to do a quirky, lowbrow, subversive thing. We think D.C. needs it.” Full details at astropopevents.com 

Through July 29, Capital Fringe Festival 2018 offers a selection of Fringe theater, music, art, dance and unclassifiable forms of live performance. Many are of special interest to LGBT audiences — just a few of those are listed below. For a complete list of shows, times, and venues, go to capitalfringe.org 

There’s still time to catch Jamie Brickhouse’s comedy solo performance “Dangerous When Wet: Booze, Sex & My Mother,” July 21 and 24 at Saint Augustine’s Episcopal Church: Gold (555 Water St., S.W.) Capital Fringe’s website describes it best: “Sodomite Jamie Brickhouse’s alcoholic odyssey from small-town sissy to louche Manhattanite is wickedly intoxicating as he hits bottom and discovers he can’t escape the all-consuming love of his Texas tornado of a mother, Mama Jean. Darkly comic, you’ll cry laughing.”

Also, Three Muses (Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St., S.W.) presents “God is Dead and April’s Getting Married,” July 21, 22, 28, 29. Penned by A.A. Brenner, the dramedy explores queerness, religion and friendship while asking if people ever truly change. 

And Caitlin M. Capliner’s “Riot Brrrain,” July 21, 22, 24, 27, 28, at Blind Whino: Turquoise (700 Delaware Ave., S.W.) is an adults only musical comedy about neurosyphilis. 

Ghosts” from Muse Theatre Productions by Elford Alley is about a mysterious device that allows communication with the dead. It runs July 21-29 at Blind Whino: Yellow (700 Delaware Ave., S.W.). It’s the only horror/sci-fi show in this year’s festival and features LGBT personnel. 

Fringe is fun but not always for kids. If children figure into your summer plans, there are options. 

Synetic Theatre (now at Devine Theater located in the Davis Performing Arts Center on the Georgetown University campus) presents “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” through Aug. 12. Of course, the innovative movement-based company puts a spin on the 20th century, L. Frank Baum favorite. Producing director Paata Tsikurishvili, director Ryan Sellers and choreographer Tori Bertocci create an environmental and spectacular adventure where verbal and nonverbal communication come together. Helen Hayes Award-winning out actor Philip Fletcher plays the Tin Man in search of a heart. Details at synetictheatre.org.

At Imagination Stage (4908 Auburn Ave, Bethesda) it’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” through Aug. 12. Based on the comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz, the delightful Off-Broadway musical hit about childhood angst is staged by local acclaimed director Aaron Posner who’s usually found directing quality stuff for grownups. Details at imaginationstage.org.

And in Glen Echo Park, Md., Adventure Theatre MTC presents “Tinker Bell” through Aug. 19. Adapted by Patrick Flynn, it’s the Peter Pan story from the twinkly fairy’s point of view. Staged by out director Nick Olcott, the company’s summer fun show features a diverse cast led by Michelle Polera in the title role and Carlos Castillo as Peter Pan. Details at adventuretheatre-mtc.org.

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