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Smaller regional Prides plan virtual, postponed events

NOVA, Frederick, Annapolis et. al. thinking outside the box in pandemic’s wake

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regional Prides, gay news, Washington Blade
A scene from a past NOVA Pride. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Washington

Capital Pride #StillWe launches a virtual series of streamed events June and beyond through a partnership with The D.C. Center. 

Programs include monthly online town halls, expanded resources available through its website and a shared community calendar. Pride 2020 Reimagined includes new Pride month programming as well as ongoing virtual versions of the D.C. Center’s Reel Affirmations film series, Outwrite Literary Festival and more.   

For more information and a listing of events, visit capitalpride.org and thedccenter.org

This weekend would typically be D.C. Youth Pride weekend (although they had their 2017 in the fall). No virtual events are listed on either the Youth Pride Alliance website or Facebook page. Organizers did not immediately respond to Blade request for details. 

D.C. Leather Pride has been postponed until further notice. 

D.C. Trans Pride and Silver Pride (60 and older), usually held in May, may have fall events. 

Maryland

Annapolis Pride has cancelled its second annual parade and festival due to COVID-19 concerns and gathering restrictions. But in its place will be an online event live-streamed via YouTube and Facebook on June 27 at 4 p.m. Participants are encouraged to turn their home into a “float” and show off Pride-themed outfits during the virtual event. Visit annapolispride.org to register and for more information. 

Baltimore Pride 2020, originally scheduled for Saturday, June 20, has been postponed to either August or September, depending how the COVID-19 situation in Maryland and globally unfolds. The community is encouraged to monitor the Baltimore Pride website for further updates.

Frederick Pride events have been postponed due to pandemic concerns. On Sunday, Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. the rescheduled parade will travel along Carroll Creek Linear Park in historic downtown Frederick. Vendor registration is now open at frederickpride.org. News about Pride events and entertainers will be posted at a later date. 

Howard County Pride has been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus. However, they are planning virtual drag queen story times, poetry slams, a talent show and other virtual events throughout Pride month. For more information, email [email protected] or visit howardcountypride.org

Hagerstown Pride plans a virtual Pride Festival on Saturday, July 18 at 11:30 a.m. Details at hagerstownhopesmd.org

Virginia

Hampton Roads Pride announced on its Facebook page a decision to postpone its 32nd Annual PrideFest, ninth annual Pride Block Party and second annual Pride at the Beach all scheduled for June 19-21, 2020 due to pandemic-related health concerns. New dates have not been announced. 

However, Pride Night at Harbor Park hosted by Hampton Roads Pride and the Norfolk Tides has been rescheduled to August 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $13 on Ticketmaster. Continue to monitor this event’s Facebook page for any changes due to COVID-19. 

Ghent Pride, presented by the Ghent Business Association and Hampton Pride, has not announced dates for this year’s event. The public is invited to monitor ghentpride.com and its Facebook page for updates as pandemic guidance evolves. 

Winchester Pride is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24 at noon in the Downtown Walking Mall. Its third annual Pride celebration will include guest speakers, entertainment and more. For details and information about this event, the Miss Winchester Pride Pageant scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 29, or for possible postponements or adjustments, visit winchesterpridecelebration.com.

No word yet from NOVA Pride, usually held in August. Check later at novapride.org

Reston Pride is cancelled. 

Shenandoah Valley Pride hopes to have its event on Saturday, Sept. 19 from noon-6 p.m. Details at shenandoahvalleypride.org

VA Pride (Richmond) is also looking to fall with a Sept. 26 event. Details at vapride.org

West Virginia

Eastern Panhandle Pride in Shepherdstown, W.Va., is postponed indefinitely. Look for the organization on Facebook later in the year for updates. “Alternatives” are being considered, organizers said. 

International

Global Pride is June 27 and is an international response to multiple Pride cancellations due to the ongoing global health crisis. This first-ever gathering of the worldwide LGBTQ community includes an impressive slate of speakers to include the President of Costa Rica, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of India and more. The show will be livestreamed on the Global Pride website and YouTube, and will be free to view. More information is available at globalpride2020.org

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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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Books

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

Revisiting iconic author’s seven ‘swans’

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(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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