Concerts, plays and more usher in fall season

Arts as colorful as autumn leaves brush the Carolina landscape

With the advent of the fall, LGBTQ arts organizations, theatre groups and concert halls are warming the cooler air with a cornucopia of offerings to satisfy even the most discerning palettes. qnotes shares a few “leaves” to enjoy.

Lavender Pen Tour

The Queen City is gearing up for a national chorus stop on Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m., at Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Lavender Pen Tour, a soul-affirming, life-changing journey supporting LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, fighting bigotry, and spreading love and hope through music.

The tour’s organizers shared, “With a divisive political climate in the U.S., marked by an increase in dangerous and hostile rhetoric against the LGBTQ and other marginalized communities, [we] take its message and music on the road to promote universal equality and inclusiveness, and the value in treating all individuals — irrespective of differences — with dignity.” It is their hope that the voices heard will empower LGBTQ youth and Americans to “come together and provide conversations and action around civil liberties for all.”

Under the artistic direction of Dr. Timothy Seelig, the massive concert features not only singers, but musicians as well as it tours southern states where discriminatory laws aimed at the LGBTQ community exist.

The tour will also welcome One Voice Chorus and Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte as its special guests on stage during the Charlotte, N.C. concert.

“It is our hope that the music will encourage LGBTQ+ people and our allies to come together, provoke conversations and action around civil liberties for all, while raising funds for local LGBTQ+ organizations. We are not looking to argue, to preach or anger, but rather raise awareness, spread tolerance and bring harmony through song,” tour organizers shared.

They will make stops in Jackson, Miss., Birmingham, Ala., Knoxville, Tenn. and Greenville, S.C. before arriving in Charlotte. The tour will join with local non-profits and LGBTQ groups to help raise much-needed funds so they can continue doing their vital work to dismantle these biased and discriminatory laws. And, they will also visit schools, churches, government buildings and more to spread the message and share the meaning of The Lavender Pen Tour.

“As has been evidenced in the recent weeks, we as a country have a long road to travel. After spending a week in the South last month with our beneficiaries and community partners, I learned that hope — the unbreakable and audacious idea that Harvey Milk built his life on and inspired us to do the same — is very much alive,” said Chris Verdugo, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus executive director. “We will amplify the work of these organizations across the South, raise tens of thousands in additional funding so they may continue their vital work and empower and inspire them with our music and mission. We believe this tour is another step in the right direction that will build bridges of understanding, compassion and empathy.” In 1977, a year before his death, Supervisor Harvey Milk-sponsored a gay civil rights bill. Mayor George Moscone signed that bill into law with a lavender pen given to him by Milk. The lavender pen remains a symbol of the fight for equality for all, and the reason for the tour’s name.

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The San Francisco chorus was founded in 1978 and has been performing to audiences spreading the message of inclusion and equality.

The Oakland choir is a community comprised of diverse races, cultures and faiths who inspire joy and unity among all individuals through black gospel and spiritual music.

Beneficiaries for the Charlotte stop will be Campaign for Southern Equality, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Charlotte, RAIN, Transcend Charlotte, One Voice Charlotte, Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte and Time Out Youth Center.

Tickets range from $19-$49 and are available online at bit.ly/lpt-charlotte.

For more information, visit sfgmc.org.

Shout & Shine:
A Celebration of Diversity in Bluegrass

During the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass business conference, Raleigh, N.C. audiences will be treated to the Bluegrass Situation and PineCone’s Shout & Shine: A Celebration of Diversity in Bluegrass on Sept. 26, 10 p.m., at The Pour House, 224 S. Blount St.

Selection of acts was based upon the celebration and encouragement of diversity within the bluegrass and roots community, organizers said.

The showcase includes Tyler Williams Band, whose leader was born with cerebral palsy and who has been blind since he was very young; Sam Gleaves, whose  CD “Ain’t We Brothers” features original songs that are informed by his own life as an openly gay musician; Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Grammy Award-winning musicians with a career spanning more than 35 years; The Otsuka & Watanabe Brothers’ Japanese Jam, featuring musicians from Japan who demonstrate the far-reaching influence of bluegrass; The Ebony Hillbillies, an African-American string band whose music helped lay the foundation for many musical genres; and 2017 International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame Inductee Alice Gerrard, who has inspired scores of young female singers through her long career in music. The Shout & Shine SuperJam will be hosted by Emerging Artist of the Year nominees Front Country.

Equality North Carolina, Triangle Friends of African American Arts and NC Asian Americans Together, among others, will be on hand to provide voter registration information.

Working closely with the Raleigh community, the showcase was born in 2016 as a direct response to the North Carolina General Assembly’s controversial “bathroom bill,” HB2. “We’re proud to support ‘Shout & Shine’ again and build off of last year’s successful theme of inclusiveness and diversity,” said Loren Gold, executive vice president of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Raleigh is a thriving Southern capital city that’s shaped by the passionate minds of its inclusive and welcoming residents. The mission of this showcase could not align more with that core value of our community.”

Admission is $10 at the door, space permitting. For those unable to attend, the event will be live streamed on the Bluegrass Situation’s Facebook page.

For more information, visit pinecone.org.

‘Pricilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical’

Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance, 1047 W. Northwest Blvd., presents “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical” based on the 1994 popular movie of the same name from Oct. 13-22. It follows the journey of two drag queens, Tick and Adam, and a transgender woman, Bernadette, as they travel across Australia in their bus, named Priscilla.

Showtimes and dates are: Oct. 13-14, 19-21 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 15 and 22 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $18/adult and $16/senior and student and are available online.

For more information, visit wstheatrealliance.org.

‘The Cake’

Written by NBC’s “This Is Us” writer Bekah Brunstetter, “The Cake” is currently being staged at the Playmakers Repertory Theatre, Paul Green Theatre, 250 Country Club Rd., in Chapel Hill, N.C. through Oct. 1.

The story follows cake decorator Della who must figure out how her faith and her love for her family can co-exist when she refuses to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding for her best friend’s daughter.

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This tension is not new to Brunstetter. Her father, former N.C. Sen. Pete Brunstetter supported the 2011 Defense of Marriage Act (aka Amendment One). In fact, he voted for the legislation which passed, but was later overturned by the courts. The partial inspiration for “The Cake” came from the circumstances, the Raleigh News & Observer reported, and added that the father and daughter continue to disagree on same-sex marriage.

Showtimes and dates are: Sept. 22, 24, 26-30, 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 24, 30 and Oct. 1, 2 p.m.

Tickets range from $15-$57 and are available online. Students with valid University of North Carolina photo ID can get tickets for $10.

For more information, visit playmakersrep.org.

‘Perfect Arrangement’

Raleigh Little Theatre, Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., will bring Topher Payne’s “Perfect Arrangement” to the Triangle from Oct. 27-Nov. 12.

This period piece takes place during the Red Scare in the 1950s. Two U.S. State Department employees have been tasked with identifying “sexual deviants” within their ranks. This presents a challenge as both are gay and married each other’s partners as a cover-up.

Payne used the inspiration of the earliest stirrings of the American Gay Rights Movement to craft this comedy.

There will be a post-show forum on Oct. 29 where participants engage in an interactive conversation leading to personal reflection and exploration of the themes and tensions of the play.

Showtimes are Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $25/adult, $21/students and seniors and $15/first Sunday performance for everyone.

For more information, visit raleighlittletheatre.org.

Across the State

Lee Theatre, 329 N. Lee St., has two plays that are centered around LGBTQ themes. “Mothers and Sons” will be presented from Sept. 28-30 and Oct. 5-7 and explores acceptance and unconditional love. The play follows a mother searching for answers about her late son from his former parter. “Next to Normal” will be performed from Nov. 2-4 and 9-11 and is a team effort between the theatre’s CataLST intership program and Catawba College. The award-winning rock/pop musical tells of a family’s story of love, sympathy and heart. Visit leestreet.org for show times and ticket information.

Charlotte Pride Band will perform in concert on Oct. 28. More information about tickets and location will be available online in the future at charlotteprideband.org.

Cantaria, The Gay Men’s Chorus of Asheville, along with The Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus, will be in concert on Sept. 30, 6 p.m., in Pack Square during Asheville Pride and on Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m., at Hendersonville Unitarian Universalist Church, 409 E. Patterson St. For more information, visit cantariaasheville.org.

Common Woman Chorus will present “No One Is Alone” on Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m., at Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4907 Garrett Rd., in Durham, N.C. Admission is free. Contributions are appreciated. For more information, visit commonwomanchorus.net.

“RENT” is being performed at Blumenthal Performing Arts, Belk Theatre, 130 N. Tryon St., from Sept. 26-Oct. 1. Visit blumenthalarts.org for showtimes and tickets.

William Ivey Long‘s costume designs exhibit will open at the Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St., beginning Sept. 23 and will run through June 3, 2018. Visit mintmuseum.org for more information and tickets.

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Posted by Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at specialassignments@goqnotes.com and 704-531-9988, x205.