Saturday, October 30, 2010

Colonial's LGB lineup: Kate Clinton, Tommy Tune and Ani DiFranco

Tommy Tune is an idol for aspiring Broadway actors.

November at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield is going to be a rare and special month with three great artists - and members of the LGBTQ community - slated to hold forth on their stage. First up is Broadway's legendary Tommy Tune who at 6' 6" is likely the tallest song and dance man to ever grace the Broadway stage. Winner of many Tony Awards he brings the Manhattan Rhythm Kings plus a backup trio with him on Friday, November 12 at 8:00 PMas we detail in this advance story in Berkshire on Stage. Tommy came out in his memoir, Footnotes.

Kate Clinton is Lady HaHa.

The next night the funny and thought-provoking Kate Clinton brings her Lady HaHa tour to the Berkshires for a taste of the Provincetown Women's Week club scene in the naked Berkshires. (I am talking about the trees post-foliage season.) We had a wonderfully revealing chat with the former school teacher turned stand-up comic which you can also find in Berkshire on Stage, and she said she loved being the second oldest living lesbian comic, while naming the first. She also talks about her pal HIllary Clinton, Arianna Huffington and Al Franken, and speculates on the health of Dick Cheney, admitting she combs the obits every day looking for good news. Her November 13 9=8:00 PM performance at the Colonial sponsored by the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition and The Rainbow Times is only her second appearance ever in the Berkshires. She will be appearing with Roy Zimmerman. More about him in this second Berkshire on Stage story.

Ani DiFranco and her daughter. Courtesy Parenting Magazine.

Then there is the bisexual Ani DiFranco who probably loves her guitar more than any particular partner, though not as much as her daughter Petah Lucia who is now approaching four. Her fluid sexual identity is as famous as her independence in the music business. My story on her is in the works, and will appear shortly. She is at the Colonial on November 16 at 7:30. She will be appearing with special guest Melissa Ferrick.

For tickets to any of these concerts, visit the Colonial Theatre website.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Twice as many teens are gay than previously thought

But many of them are also engaging in risky behavior which is not good news.

According to a 2002 study of Massachusetts and Vermont teens, only 5 percent to 6 percent of teens had same-sex partners. In the new study, 9.3 percent of teens said they did. The new research, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that teens who had sex with only their own gender or with both genders were more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, putting themselves at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Elizabeth Saewyc, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, told Reuters Health that these teens may engage in riskier behavior because sex education programs don't always acknowledge gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships.

"Some teens I've seen tell me that they completely check out of sex ed because they feel what they were learning didn't apply to them," said Saewyc, who was not involved in the new study.

She suggested that educators need to acknowledge gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships more often in sex education curriculums so that teens are more likely to listen and will feel more comfortable discussing any issues.

Bullying has been increasing too as some schools are in denial.

In the 2008 British Columbia Adolescent Health Survey, for teens who were sexually active, 8 percent of males and 10 percent of females reported having had a same-sex partner. In a study looking at the 2001 Minnesota Student Survey, 9.4 percent of teens reported having had partners of the same or both sexes.

Dr. Preeti Pathela, lead author of the new study, said the results may have been different this time around because some states do not measure same-sex encounters.

This story is excerpted from a Reuters report.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Super production of "Hairspray" in Cohoes, NY

"Big Hair! Big Talent! Big Dancing! Big Fun! AND...Jim Charles in a dress. Who could ask for anything more?? Fun from beginning to end. I encourage you to strap on your dancing shoes and pack up the whole family and go." - Gail Burns,

For a community-based theatre, the folks at Music Hall (C-R Productions) in Cohoes, NY really make their musicals um, well, sing!

I often make the trek there when the musical pickings are slim in the Berkshires - like now and until Tommy Tune arrives November12. With their new iteration of Hairspray, you should think about filling up the gas and heading over the border for a good time. They always have a live pit band, too, a real plus. Sometimes the tech crew is a couple of fuses short on the amperage, but the wattage of the talent is still high voltage.

I loved Gail Burns' review of Hairspray - she sees a lot more issues and facets than most reviewers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Teens - It Gets Better (Broadway Sings for the Trevor Project)

Sometimes it get pretty lonely being a teen, especially if you are LGBTQ or taken as one....This video made for The Trevor Project features lots of my favorite Broadway performers and is very heartfelt since just about every one of them went through high school enduring the daily harshness. Look at them now.

The Trevor Project was founded by the generous actor-writer James Lecesne, who was our stage manager back in the 70's at the Pocket Mime Theatre in Boston. He helped me make big changes in my life, and has continued to help others as well. Other founders include director/producer Peggy Rajski and producer Randy Stone, creators of the 1994 Academy Award®-winning short film, Trevor, a comedy/drama about a gay 13-year-old boy who, when rejected by friends because of his sexuality, makes an attempt to take his life.

When Trevor was scheduled to air on HBO® in 1998, the filmmakers realized that some of the program’s young viewers might be facing the same kind of crisis as Trevor, and began to search for an appropriate support line to broadcast during the airing. They discovered that no such helpline existed, and decided to dedicate themselves to forming what was, in their view, a much-needed resource: an organization to promote acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group. Thus, The Trevor Project was born, and with seed funding provided by The Colin Higgins Foundation, The Trevor Lifeline was established and became the first and only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Today, in addition to operating the crisis and suicide prevention lifeline, The Trevor Project provides online support to young people through the organization’s Web site, as well as lifesaving guidance and vital resources for educators and parents.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mass MoCA puts out welcome mat for LGBTQ Youth, Adults

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams has never been shy about showcasing the work of artists who happen to be gay, but they are about to go much further. Mass MoCA has announced that it is a judgement free zone, and has been planning a new after-school program for LGBTQ youth (ages 14-21), to be hosted & launched at MASS MoCA beginning in January of 2011. The program is open to any LGBTQ youth that are looking for a safe space to be who they are and make art! Allies are also encouraged to attend.

Paul Browde and Murray Nossel in Two Men Talking at Mass MoCA.

Also coming up on November 20 is the appearance of Paul Browde and Murray Nossel's in a show they call Two Men Talking. Put together by these two gay men, it has become an international phenomenon. In this unscripted production, the two men, who first met as school children in Johannesburg in 1974, weave their life stories - which includes taunting and homophobia - into a captivating work of live theater that bounces between South Africa and New York touching on issues of personal identity, HIV/AIDS, being Jewish in South Africa, and the creation of a lifetime friendship.

Here's a very creative treatment of Paul and Murray's saga (note mobile users - requires Flash) FLYP Magazine Interactive For More Info:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Update: Out in the Berkshires Events Oct. 8-10

"Untitled" by Kit Restivo.

Pittsfield is clearly the place to be on Columbus Day Weekend. the city is jumping with enormous activity. For the second year in a row there will be an "Out in the Berkshires" celebration which has been slated for October 8-10. This year includes several new events, some of which have only been finalized in the past day or two.

Says Megan Whilden, Cultural Pittsfield's director, "The terrific thing about Out in the Berkshires is that it is the same weekend as a number of other events in downtown Pittsfield, from the Storefront Artist Project-organized open studios, to a conversation with artist Maggie Mailer at Ferrin Gallery, to Barrington Stage’s production of The Crucible and their programming around the Red Scare era and blacklisted writers."

The full slate of weekend events are being held in concert with National Coming Out day on October 11, and are co-sponsored by the Rainbow Times, the City of Pittsfield and the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition.  For visitors too, it is a rare chance to enjoy gorgeous fall foliage and gay-friendly arts and nightlife.

Out in the Berkshires kicks off Friday evening with the opening reception for the Out in the Berkshires group art show (see preview slideshow in our concurrent story at Berkshire on Stage. It takes place at the Lichtenstein Gallery, featuring regional artists from the LGBTQ community, including Kit Restivo whose photo appears at the top of this story.

The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts is the new home for the Live Out Loud Youth Project a social support and networking. youth-led, adult-facilitated group to support positive social relationships and meet the needs of LGBTQQA youth in the Berkshires. It's another important reason why the Out in the Berkshires project is to create a welcoming environment for our own LGBTQ youth to avoid tragedies like the recent suicide of Tyler Clementi. "And the LGBT art show was the Mayor's idea," notes Whilden.

Bill Nelson's All Male Revue has plenty of new surprises.

Friday evening continues with the first of three nights of delicious comedic cabaret with Bill Nelson’s All Male Revue at the award-winning Barrington Stage Company, followed by late night Karao-Gay with karaoke champion Ken De Loreto as the ever-so-charming MC.

"As Pittsfield itself has undergone change in recent years, the most exciting and entertaining twist on its diversity has been the arrival of increasing numbers of LGBT residents. They have enriched the arts and cultural scene, of course, but they have also been filling needed spots in the health care, high tech and entrepreneurial communities. The "Out" weekend is one way to reach out to them in hopes that they may become more involved. Not only can they enjoy the beauty and ambience of the Berkshires, but in Pittsfield, we welcome their active participation in the growth of the city." - Megan Whilden

Saturday enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage in the Berkshires and don’t miss the Downtown Pittsfield Open Studios, an opportunity to peek into some of the 60+ artist studios and galleries in downtown Pittsfield. After the All Male Revue Saturday evening, you’re invited to cruise at Come Out and Dance party into the wee hours.

"We know a successful creative city needs to be a diverse, tolerant and exciting city, and one of the key ingredients, as identified by Richard Florida in his seminal book, The Rise of the Creative Class, is the LGBTQ community, along with artists and immigrants. Pittsfield has worked hard to be welcoming to artist and immigrants, and we want to make the LGBTQ community feel equally welcomed, supported and appreciated in Pittsfield." - Megan Whilden

Sunday brings a "family and friends" brunch at the scrumptious Jae’s Spice that’s also a benefit for Out in the Berkshires programming, followed by a late evening screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Keep up with everything LGBTQ-friendly in the Berkshires at and look for online on Facebook and Twitter too!

Michel Bellici, "Painting 89", 30x40 Acrylic on Canvas

Friday, October 8, 5-7pm Out in the Berkshires art show opening

Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, 28 Renne Avenue Pittsfield, MA
FREE More info: 413.499.9348

A group show featuring regional artists from the LGBTQ community, including abstract painter Joe Goodwin, trans artists Autumn Doyle and Justin Adkins, mixed media artists Timothy Kushi and Donald Clark, photographers Susan Mikula, the late Vaal London-Kane and Kit Restivo, sculptor Joseph Wheaton currently in a two person show at the Berkshire Museum, painters Jaysin Eli and Michelle Bellici, and fiber artist Nathan Hanford.

Friday-Sunday, October 8-10 8pm Bill Nelson’s Musical Revue

$15 Barrington Stage Company, 36 Linden Street, Pittsfield, MA
More info & advance tickets: 413.236.8888 or

If David Sedaris were musicalized, he’d sound like Bill Nelson! The lyrics are equal parts jaw-dropping, profound and daffy. Join Bill and the guys for a casual, fun evening of fresh, inventive theatre songs!

KJ (Erica) Spizz

Friday, October 8 (doors open 9:30pm) 10pm-1am Karao-Gay karaoke night!

$5/$7 NEW STAGE 55 North Street, Pittsfield MA

Let your inner diva shine with Karaoke Master Ken Deloreto at the helm and KJ (Erica ) Spizz behind the turntable into the wee hours. Reportedly Spizz is thrilled to be making her Shire City debut at Karao-Gay. KJ has the equipment and a 25K+ song arsenal to satisfy both virgins and varsity players alike. She never lets her tone deafness or inability to carry a tune dampen the passion in her performances. Cash bar. Reservations 413.418.0999.

Saturday, October 9, 9pm -1am  Come Out & Dance Party 

$5 NEW STAGE 55 North Street, Pittsfield MA

Get out on the dance floor with the deliriously popular DJ BFG spinning tracks.

Sunday, October 10  11:30am Family & Friends Brunch

$20 Jae’s Spice 297 North Street 443-1234

Celebrate community and help support continued Out in the Berkshires programming at this delicious brunch at one of the Berkshires’ finest restaurants.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has become a classic.

Sunday, October 10 , 10pm Rocky Horror Picture Show

$9 Beacon Cinema, 55 North Street, Pittsfield MA

Let’s do the Time Warp during this late night showing of this cult classic! Dress up encouraged, prize for best costume.

Friday, September 24, 2010

October Events from Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition

Of course we are all looking forward to the Out in the Berkshires Weekend in Pittsfield (see previous story) but there is a lot more happening before and after the Columbus Day Weekend. Here's the latest from the Berkshire Stonewall Community Coallition.

BSCC Annual Meeting & Potluck

Wednesday, October 6, 7-9 pm at the Unitarian Church
on Wendell Ave, Pittsfield, MA

Join the Berkshire Stonewall Board of Directors for a potluck dinner at the UU Church to be followed by a community meeting where the board will present an annual report of what we have been up to over the past year, and then we’ll open the floor to questions and comments from the community. Our input is vital to the growth of the organization, so please bring yourselves, your thought and ideas, and a dish to share.

BSCC Halloween Dance

Saturday, October 23, 9pm – 1am at the Elk’s Club
on Union Street in Pittsfield, MA

Berkshire Stonewall will be hosting a Halloween Party on October 23rd from 9pm to 1am at the Elk’s Club. DJ BFG will be joining us once again, and we’re coming up with some crazy decoration ideas. Guests are encouraged to dress in their favorite costumes. Appetizers, DJ, Costume Contest!

Admission: $5 Member/$10 Non-Member ($5 additional fee for entrance in costume contest)


Saturday, October 16, 2-4 pm at The Bookstore
11 Housatonic Street, Lenox, MA

Cartoonist Howard Cruse will read excerpts from his international award-winning 1995 graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, which was reissued this summer in a new, 15th anniversary hardcover edition. The Lenox event will begin with Howard’s reading at 2 to be followed by book-signing and socializing.

Set amid the turmoil of the Civil Rights era, Stuck Rubber Baby centers on Toland Polk, a young, closeted gay southerner struggling to find himself and achieve moral authenticity. When it was first published, Artforum International called the novel “bravura storytelling.” In his introduction to the original edition playwright Tony Kushner referred to Howard as “one of the most talented artists to work in the form.” The book’s anniversary edition includes a new introduction by Alison Bechdel, author of 2008’s highly lauded Fun Home. The founding editor of Gay Comix and creator of the 1980s comic strip Wendel, Howard has lived in North Adams since 2003 with his husband Ed Sedarbaum.


Saturday, October 30, 2 pm at The Bookstore
11 Housatonic Street, Lenox, MA

Richard Stevenson (Dick Lipez) will read from his new book, Cockeyed, the eleventh Don Strachey PI novel by Stevenson, the pseudonym of Becket author Dick Lipez. Cockeyed is as much screwball comedy as mystery. It’s about what happens when Hunny “You go, girl!” Van Horn, Albany’s flamingest working class flamer wins the first New York State Lottery payout of one billion dollars. Strachey is brought in to deal with the skeletons that come tumbling out of Hunny’s non-closet. Cockeyed was published in September by MLR Press. Also just out in East Asia from Monsoon Books is Bangkok Free Fall, which was published last year in the US under the title The 38 Million Dollar Smile.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Out in the Berkshires: October 8-10, 2010

From the August performances of Bill Nelson's All Male Revue: Stanley Bahorek, Orville Mendoza, Claybourne Elder, Bill Nelson, Matt Castle, Frank Galgano. New songs coming in October as part of the renamed "Bill Nelson's Incredible Musical Review."

There's nothing official yet, no press release, just some events that seem to be coming together, but indications are that there will be a second "Out in the Berkshires" celebration in Pittsfield in October. One of the hoped for events has already been scrapped, but hopefully there will be more. Time grows short. This last minute stuff is ok for the locals, but if there is any hope of drawing in some new faces, a little advance publicity - including on the LGBT state tourism pages would help draw from beyond our meager population here.

Of course once the official announcements arrives, (PR goes to I will be sure to put a feature story up in Berkshire on Stage. Meantime, pencil in these dates. Of course, I highly recommend seeing the new iteration of Bill Nelson's (F)all Male Revue. Witty, clever, and very gay.

Friday, October 8, 5-7pm
Out in the Berkshires opening reception
Group art show featuring leading LGBTQ regional artists including Nathan Hanford, Joe Goodwin, Tim Kushi, Autumn Doyle, Kit Restivo, Vaal London-Kane, Donald Clark and others. Location TBA

Friday-Sunday, October 8-10 8pm
Bill Nelson’s Incredible Musical Reviue
Barrington Stage 2

Friday, October 8, 10pm-1am
Karao-Gay Night
with Karaoke MC Ken DeLoreto
NEW Performing Arts Center (above the Beacon)

And there is a page at the New Stage website announcing Karao Gay. As we get notified by the organizers, we will pass along the word.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kolok Gallery & Berkshire Stonewall Sparkling Wine & Chocolate Saturday Sept 11

Robert Mateo Diago

Born in Puerto Rico, Robert Mateo Diago has lived in Northern New Jersey, NYC and South Florida. He's called Dallas, Texas home for 15 years. He has been a student of art since his early childhood, and by high school knew he'd pursue it as a career. He received his college degree from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

Diago developed a successful career in Art Direction and Commercial Design over 20 years. About ten years ago painting reentered his life - emerging as an almost primal need during a meditation retreat. Since then he's been creating personal and commissioned works; paintings, collage and sculpture. Two years ago Diago made the significant and official switch into making art his fulltime endeavor.

Having planned on constructing only a studio addition, the artist, a proponent of 'green' living, recently built a sustainable USGBC LEED Platinum certified home with a spacious, light-filled studio. The versatility of his new work space allows him to create and showcase large paintings including diptychs and triptychs while also providing him with space suitable for making other works such as sculpture and mixed media assemblages.

Ongoing at Kolok Gallery:

A rotating inventory including sculptures, paintings and prints by artists David Bradshaw, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Crewdson, Shannon Donovan, Joshua Field, Limor Gasko, Brandon Graving, Cai Guo-Qiang, Melissa Matsuki Lillie, Mark Mulherrin, Shuli Sade, Ryan Scheidt, Glenn Paul Smith, Weronika Zaluska, and others.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Bill Nelson's All Male Revue" returns with a change of songs

Bill Nelson, Frank Galgano, Claibourne Elder, Orville Mendoza, just part of the company.

For those who were lucky enough to catch the first outing of Bill Nelson's All-Male Revue, seeing it again is a no-brainer. The relaxed and easy-going Nelson is a writer of clever, often gay-themed lyrics that touch both our hearts and our funny bones.

We've talked to Bill and written up a detailed preview which you can read here in Berkshire on Stage. (A special feature of that site is that you can search via category to find performances of special interest, just click on the LGBT category in the drop down "Find Stories by Category" menu). This year there will be something old, something new, something campy, something blue as he skewers everything from his youthful crushes to the latest headlines.

Here's the official news release:


Bill Nelson’s ALL-MALE REVUE
Lyrics by Bill Nelson

Music by various composers including Will Aronson, Rob Broadhurst, Hailey Chang, Creighton Irons, Anna K. Jacobs, David Mallamud, Katya Stanislavskaya, and Niko Tsakalakos

New to the cast this year: Stanley Bahorek

Starring Matt Castle, Claybourne Elder, Frank Galgano, Orville Mendoza, and Stanley Bahorek

Music Direction by Matt Castle
Directed by William Finn

August 26 through 28, 2010

( PITTSFIELD , MA ) Back by popular demand, Barrington Stage Company's Musical Theatre Lab, under the mentorship of Tony winning composer/lyricist William Finn, presents the return of Bill Nelson’s All-Male Revue from August 26 -28 at the theater’s Stage 2 performance venue in Downtown Pittsfield.

A musical revue where the only thing naked is the lyrics. If David Sedaris were musicalized, he’d sound like Bill Nelson. Nelson’s lyrics are equal parts jaw-dropping, profound and daffy. Join Bill and the guys for a casual, fun evening of fresh, inventive theatre songs.

Starring Matt Castle (Company), Claybourne Elder (Road Show), Frank Galgano (Naked Boys Singing), Orville Mendoza (Road Show), and Stanley Bahorek (See Rock City and Other Destinations), the revue features the lyrics of Bill Nelson and music by various composers including Will Aronson, Rob Broadhurst, Hailey Chang, Creighton Irons, Anna K. Jacobs, David Mallamud, Katya Stanislavskaya, and Niko Tsakalakos.

Matt Castle is music director, with direction by William Finn.

Bill and William

Playwright/lyricist/bookwriter Bill Nelson received an MFA from the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program where he wrote, with composer Daniel Lincoln, Savannah: a Musical Fable. Bill’s plays have been performed across the country and his songs have been heard at cabarets around the world, including William Finn’s Songs by Ridiculously Talented Composers and Lyricists—presented at both Barrington Stages and Joe’s Pub—and New York Theatre Barn's The Oh, So Sexy Songs of Bill Nelson. A Dramatist Guild fellow and published lyricist, he's currently working with composer Anna K. Jacobs on a new musical, Harmony, Kansas , about a gay men's chorus in rural Kansas .

Performances will take place at BSC’s Stage 2 space, 36 Linden Street , Pittsfield on Thursday, August 26 at 9:30pm, Friday, August 27 at 9:30pm, and Saturday, August 28 at 10:00pm. Tickets are $15 (general admission) by calling the BSC Box Office at 413-236-8888 or online at

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Altar Boyz!" a fun show that parodies Christian boy bands

The Altar Boyz! From L. to R.: Tom Garutto, Eddie Maldando, Trey Compton, Barry Shafrin and Steven Cardona are the Altar Boyz.

If you've enjoyed some quality time watching videos of boy bands then this is the show for you: four wholesome lads from Ohio, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Juan, meet up with their Jewish friend Abraham when they all hear the voice of God telling them to go out among the masses and save a few souls. Only if you are a Christian fundamentalist, it's not going as planned. Imagine if Fred Phelps got a call from Jesus informing him that he was back on earth to help spread the word, but that he was calling from the Crown and Anchor in Provincetown.

You see, Altar Boys - playing at the nearby Theater Barn in New Lebanon, NY from August 12-22 - is a rip roaring parody. It makes fun of boy bands, Catholicism, contemporary Christian music, closeted gays, gay Latino pop stars, boy-band costume designers, simplistic theology, unrequited gay crushes, commercialized Christianity, and occasionally someone in the audience. Those who were brought up Catholic, or Southern Baptist, or have been gay-bashed or even got mocked for going to an 'N Sync concert years ago will feel downright welcome.

And those with sharp ears will find a special message in the song "Rhythm in me" sung by gay boys: "God put the rhythm in me. Put it in me! Put it in me!"

The Altar Boyz (l to r) Trey Compton (Matthew), Barry Shafrin (Mark), Tom Garutto (Luke), Eddie Maldonado (Juan), Steven Cardona (Abraham).

Imagine the shades of red that someone like Tony Perkins or Pat Robertson would turn if they were seated next to you. These are no New Kids on the Block, at least once they hit the road and got out of Ohio.

Read my interview with the director, Bert Bernardi about the show, visit my Berkshire on Stage website where a little more family friendly interpretation of the show prevails. I have not seen it yet, but will get a review up early next week, hopefully by Monday, August 16.

Performances of Altar Boyz take place from August 12-22 on Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 5pm and 8:30pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $24 except Sunday matinees which are $22. For tickets call 518-794-8989. The Theatre Barn is located at 654 Route 20, New Lebanon, NY 12125. They have a simple website with season and subscription information.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jacob's Pillow schedules an Out Weekend with Ballets Trockadero

“Out” and About events gaining in popularity – Trocks at the Pillow

The trend towards welcoming the Berkshire’s LGBT community with special events continues with another “Out” night at Barrington Stage’s ART tonight July 29, followed by a special event at Jacob’s Pillow early in August.

Jacob’s Pillow has just announced “A Weekend OUT at the Pillow,” August 13-15. The weekend will provide LGBTQ families, individuals, and couples the opportunity to take advantage of all the Pillow has to offer, including a multitude of free and ticketed events, while spending time with old and new acquaintances.

In the theatres, audiences have the opportunity to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion. In addition to these ticketed performances, the Pillow will host several free events during “A Weekend OUT at the Pillow.”

The Pillow will also host a free Artist Mixer at the Pillow Pub on Friday, August 13, where members of the community are welcome to stay after the performances and chat with the performers. “A Weekend OUT at the Pillow” will also feature a special historic tour of Jacob’s Pillow on Sunday, August 15 at noon, given by Jacob’s Pillow Director of Preservation, Norton Owen, and focusing on Pillow founder Ted Shawn and his Men Dancers.

Box Office: 413.243.0745. For complete schedule, visit

Thursday, July 15, 2010

BSCC's End of Summer Dance August 28 in Pittsfield

The Berkshire Stonewall Community Coalition is planning an end of summer dance for Saturday August 28, 2010 from 8:00-12:30. Providing the dance beats is favorite spinner, DJ BFG, Admission is $5 for members, $10 for non-members. But if you join or renew your membership in BSCC at the door, your admission will be free!

And here's a creative idea...Bill Nelson's All Male Revue is playing on Barrington Stage 2 over on Linden Street, so you could drop by the dance, have some fun, stroll over to BSC for the 10pm performance and get back for last call.

From the 2009 Version - Howie Michael Smith, Frank Galgano, Matt Castle, Claybourne Elder, Orville Mendoza, Bill Nelson
I saw this show last year, and it was about as out as you can get and yet be family friendly. (Nothing's naked but the lyrics.) It's the final night, so get your tickets early.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bennington, VT - Summer 2010 Pride Picnic Saturday August 7

Here's some information on the Bennington Pride picnic.

The annual BennPride picnic this year will be August 7th (with a
possible rain date of August 8th?) 2010 at Shaftsbury Lake. We will gather
between 11 AM & noon with the meal to follow....

Bennington Pride Coalition will furnish the hotdogs, hamburgers and
buns. Please bring a potluck dish to share.

As I wrote last year, the fun starts at about 11 AM, with games and socializing, then a potluck lunch at noon (everyone bring a dish!) the location is the beautiful Lake Shaftsbury State Park, just ten miles or so north of Bennington. Berkshire folks would take Route 7 north into Vermont, and after riding through Bennnington take 7A north through Shaftsbury. After you pass the Clear Brook Farm on the right, and the Chocolate House on the left it is a little further to the park entrance on your right. If you come to Route 313 you have gone too far.

Cost to get into the park is $3.00 for adults ages 14 and older. For children ages 4-13, cost is $2.00. Under age 4 is free

There is a designated group picnic area and once you find that, just look for the rainbow flag, walk up and introduce yourself.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jason and deMarco to blend sexuality and spirituality at First Congregational Church, Williamstown

If you haven't been to church in a while, you might consider dropping in on the First Congregational Church in Williamstown this Sunday, July 11 for a very special worship service at 9:30 am. Times have changed, and many churches have kept up with the times. The appearance of the openly gay, openly Christian singing duo Jason and deMarco will be a first. They not only make great music, but are a rare model of how two lovers have been able to integrate their sexuality and spirituality into a lasting relationship and successful career.

Jason and deMarco. Jerry Avenaim Photo.

Of course, their openness about their sexuality often pits them against evangelical Christianity, while their faith at times meets with resistance from the gay community. Jason & deMarco may not have chosen an easy path, but it is a heartfelt one. You cn get a good sense of the guys and their unique approach to life in these excerpts from their DVD, We're All Angels. It was first aired on the Logo network this past May.

You can meet and enjoy the MTV-award-winning music duo on Sunday, July 11th when they perform and speak at the 9:30 am worship service at First Congregational Church, Williamstown. The service is free and open to the public.

Robin Lehleitner, head of the church's Education Team gives us a little background: "We voted to become an Open & Affirming church in 1992, and have a number of gay members, but for the most part this aspect of our ministry tends to be a well-kept secret in Berkshire County. Hosting J & D is our way of attempting to publicize it." She also credits Bennington's Dr. Ken Sullivan-Bol for playing a big part in bringing the duo to the Berkshires.

Rev. Carrie Bail, pastor of FCC, Williamstown says "We care about ensuring that everyone receives an equal welcome, no matter what their race, class, or gender identity. Ken has been a big part of that hospitality, not only for the LGBT community, but for anyone who happens to walk through our doors."
Jason & deMarco, rising stars who are gay, spiritual, and in love, have performed at numerous high profile events including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Awards in Los Angeles, the Matthew Shepard Foundation's annual gala in Denver, and the 2006 Human Rights Campaign Gala at the Waldorf Astoria New York.

Jason and deMarco. Van Der Kolk Photography

They have also been a part of the human rights campaign celebrating marriage equality, Love Rocks, alongside artists such as Christina Aguilera, Pink, and The Dixie Chicks. While Jason & deMarco tour internationally in various venues, they also continue sharing their music and message with the community of faith around the world.
Their controversial autobiographical documentary film We're All Angels, from director Robert Nunez, takes a behind-the-scenes look at the public and private lives of these rising pop stars, with a particular focus on their openness about their sexuality. Most recently Jason & deMarco announced the launch of a new non-profit organization called S.A.F.E. (Safe, Affirming, Family Environment) dedicated to establishing "S.A.F.E. Houses" for GLBTQ youth and young adults. Their concert profits go to benefit this cause.
The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, of Williamstown, located at 906 Main Street (Rt. 2), in the center of the Williams College campus, voted to become an “Open and Affirming” church in 1992. This means, in part, that the congregation seeks to extend affirmation and support to the LGBTQ community. Services are Sundays at 9:30 am from July 4 throughout the summer, and 10:30 am beginning September 12. The church is fully handicap accessible and parking is available behind the building off of Chapin Hall Drive.  For more information call the church office 413-458-4273 or e-mail

About Jason Warner

Jason Warner is the oldest son in an entertainment family. He grew up on the eastern shore of Maryland and began singing at an early age, traveling with his mother in music ministry. His grandmother often called him 'lungs' because she could hear him coming down the street as a baby. In 1996, Jason toured with the professional contemporary Christian recording group, Truth, and then in 1997 and 1998, with the group The Sound. On the road and in the studio with these groups, he learned about music management, direction, production and booking. Jason graduated from Lee University in Cleveland, TN in 1997 with a BA degree in Music and Sociology. The following year, he founded his own independent recording label, RJN MUSIC, originally based in Nashville, TN. Says Jason, "although the foundation of my morals, spirituality, and ideals were a result of my strict Pentecostal upbringing, my spiritual beliefs have broadened along with my musical style. I've always pushed myself to break down barriers and cross boundaries in order to reach people from all walks of life, because I believe that music is the universal language of the soul and has the ability to bring people together."

About deMarco DeCiccio

deMarco DeCiccio's earliest memories of music take him back to nursery school where he was taught to sing nursery rhymes by Catholic nuns. He later furthered his love for music and theater by studying at the Etobicoke School for the Performing Arts, and in 1999 he graduated with a B.A. degree in Music and Languages from York University in Canada. deMarco's debut album was a series of love songs, sung in Italian, called "Melodie." Since relocating to Los Angeles in 1999, deMarco has performed in a number of theatrical productions, and has appeared in several national commercials.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Two Gay Artists Show Sculptures at Berkshire Museum

"Sea Grass" one of the larger pieces by Susan Rodgers

The new sculpture show at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield is called Spatial Relationships but it might better be called Special Relationships. That's because it has a gay and lesbian connection...the two artists whose works are being featured just happen to be members of our LGBT community.

(While I understand there was a Facebook alert to the BSCC members, either I missed the LGBT connection or it was not specifically mentioned. My gaydar wasn't working in any case. Thanks to a dear colleague who alerted me to the LGBT element yesterday. So sorry for the late heads-up.)

Joe Wheaton's impressive "Shadows ope".

Joe Wheaton was on the Berkshire Stonewall board a ways back, and is married to the gay detective novelist Dick Lipez — in fact, they were the first male couple married in Becket, on the day gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts. And here’s a choice snippet from the the catalog, about his use of materials.

Metal is his medium of choice because, Joe says, “it’s everything I’m not — if I weren’t gay I could work in feathers and Styrofoam.”

As if that were not interesting enough, turns out that Susan Rodgers is also more than just a famous artist, she is in a long term marriage with her gay partner as well. Some of her work is large scale as shown in the first picture, but it can also be surprisingly intimate enough to hang on your wall.

In any case, here is the safe, straight version of the event as presented to the mainstream press: Press releases continue to be the last place to learn about gay and lesbian people. When I ask pr writers why they never include the fact that an artist, show or exhibit has gay content, they answer it's not necessary because we live in a "post-gay" world. Maybe. But the artists themselves might not make the point, and they should.

Susan Rodgers: Silence.

Berkshire Museum will present the work of two local sculptors beginning Thursday.

"Joe Wheaton & Susan Rodgers: Spatial Relationships," an installation of new sculpture created specifically for this exhibition, runs through October 11. The installation brings together two Berkshire-based artists who worked extensively in other materials before gravitating toward metal. Coincidentally, both gained their affinity for working in metal after taking adult education welding classes at local high schools. Both artists will be present for the opening reception on Thursday, July 1 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The reception is open to the public.

Joe Wheaton's Kabuki Series #9

Wheaton, who lives in Becket, began working in ceramics at age 12; in the 1980s he attended Alfred University, where he studied ceramics, printmaking, photography, and sculpture. In 1990 he took a welding class at Pittsfield’s Taconic High School. "The minute I started welding," he told art critic Carol Diehl, author of the exhibition catalog, "I knew I had to do something that truly nurtured me," a revelation that prompted him to commit to the life of a full-time artist. Wheaton describes his work as "old-fashioned modern," although the new work he created for "Spatial Relationships" is distinctly contemporary.

Susan Rodgers: Night Sounds

New York native Rodgers had studied sculpture while working in theatrical set and prop design before moving to the Berkshires in the 1970s. She experienced an epiphany similar to Wheaton’s in a welding class at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington. The two sculptors share a love of working with found objects, as well as a mutual focus on line, form, balance, and shadow. But they diverge in matters of composition. As Rodgers told Carol Diehl, "… we both respond to the same art – David Smith and the usual – however I love the Mondrian grid, and I don’t think Joe’s as drawn to the grid as I am. In fact, I think he’s ‘anti-grid.’"

On view in Berkshire Museum’s Ellen Crane Memorial Room, the sculpture that comprises Spatial Relationships proves complementary and, at the same time, provides thought-provoking counterpoint. "This show is part of Berkshire Museum’s mission to support Berkshire artists and to demonstrate the innovation that has arisen in this special region," said Stuart A. Chase, the Museum’s executive director.

Joe Wheaton's Two Rocks

Chase describes Wheaton and Rodgers as mid-career sculptors who have both achieved recognition and whose work sells well. "Typically, a curator putting together an exhibition of contemporary art would go to the artists’ studio or gallery to select work,"” said Chase. "By giving Joe and Susan the freedom to create new work for Spatial Relationships, we gave them leeway to move beyond what they know is salable in a gallery situation."

Visitors can expect to see work from both artists that represents a departure from what has been successful in the marketplace.

"Spatial Relationships" will be on view in the Ellen Crane Memorial Room. Carol Diehl will lead a panel discussion with the artists on Thursday, September 23 at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jay Armstrong Johnson to star in Pool Boy at Barrington Stage

Jay Armstrong Johnson stars in Pool Boy. Live. On Stage. in Pittsfield. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Pool Boy, a new musical by Nikon Tsakalakos and Janet Allard will debut at Barrington Stage in two weeks time. Beyond being the hilarous tale of a - what else - pool boy at the Hotel Bel Air it is also a chance to see Jay Armstrong Johnson again. He was last in these parts two years ago in Hairspray at the Weston, VT Playhouse, and has been making a name for himself both on Broadway and on the road ever since.

Jay Armstrong Johnson

You can read the full casting details (and see more pictures) in Berkshire on Stage. Watch also for my upcoming interview with Nikos on how this production went from a summer job where he was at the mercy of everyone else's decisions, to a summer job where his input is sought.

Now here's a cute video that shows off both the musical abilities of Jay A. Johnson and his warm personality.

Now here's the thing. This show, with its great contemporary music by Nikos and a fabulous cast is already rapidly selling tickets as the word of mouth spreads. The Stage Two is a small 200 seat house, and has been home to a string of really fine shows - Freud's Last Session (which goes to NYC after it finishes next week) and The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez which had hardly a spare ticket during its extended run. Tip: shows there are general admission, so arrive early for the closer seats.

Out @ BSC on July 8

Reminder: OUT@BSC will take place on three Thursdays this summer. The first is July 8 with a performance of Sweeney Todd and a post show party at Jae’s Spice. Don't forget to ask for your 10% off discount. Read about the first program of its kind for the GLBT community by a major Berkshire cultural institution. A decent turnout means we will see more "out" events in the future too. I thought this Sweeney Todd (review here) was quite wonderful.

Performances of Pool Boy are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 7:30pm at BSC Stage 2, 36 Linden St., Pittsfield. Opening Night: Wed., July 21 at 7:30pm. Tickets: $15-$45. Seniors: $20 all matinees. Pay What You Can Night for 35 year olds and younger: Fri., July 16 at 7:30pm. Post-show discussions with the cast will be held following the Thursday, July 15 and Thursday, August 5 performances. For ticket information call 413-236-8888, stop by the BSC Box Office at 30 Union Street or visit I suppose I don't have to remind you that Pool Boy contains adult situations (mostly straight) and strong language.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hot Berkshire Summer Begins - Mark Morris, Jacobs Pillow, FilmTopia, Randy Harrison

Mark Morris Dance Group in Morris's Mozart Dances. Photo by Stephanie Berger.

And so our 2010 Summer of Plenty begins this weekend. With the always surprising Mark Morris and his dance company at Tanglewood's Ozawa Hall this Sunday and Monday June 27-28 at 9 pm, the once bad boy of dance will show us how refined he has become.

Over at Jacob's Pillow, the State Ballet of Georgia has put together a program from the Petipa days to the present day that is sure to delight dance aficionados. Their Falling Angels is, quite frankly, not to be missed.

From India, The World Unseen, part of the Film Topia series.

Then there is the fledgeling FilmTopia series which is kicking off Saturday at 7 pm at the Topia Arts Center in Adams. Unspooling are three short films by Nuria Olive-Belles, a really fabulous Spanish filmmaker who worked at Jacob's Pillow for several summers as their Video Director. But the big attraction is the feature - The World Unseen by Shamin Sarif. Caryn from Topia tells us it is a gorgeous multilayered story of two Indian women living under apartheid South Africa in the 1950's.

Then, Saturday afternoon, Susan Mikula, who is Rachel Maddow's partner, opens her photographic exhibit at the always interesting Ferrin Gallery. Her latest work titled American Vale: Recent Photographs features images of the Berkshire's industrial past. While they are easily identifiable, they have a somewhat soft, translucent quality that give the impression of looking back through the mists of time. Being that the opening reception is this Saturday June 26 from 4 to 6, you know who will not be in the Big Apple preparing for her nightly program. Could be interesting.

Randy back then. New images with interview in Berkshire on Stage later this weekend.

Yesterday I caught up with Randy Harrison, who is back in the Berkshires for the sixth year preparing for Endgame at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. Arriving in the Berkshires for a month, he assured me that his cats Ella and Aggie are being looked after while he is preparing for the Samuel Beckett play. He spends his time on stage cooped up in a trashcan as Nagg.

Though Endgame doesn't begin performances until July 6, his fans from Queer as Folk have snapped up every available seat for opening night, and are gnawing away at the rest. The interview with Harrison will not go up until late this weekend (lots of transcribing to do first) but as usual it probes the depth of his theatrical knowledge. Which is considerable.

Some people only think of him as his character on QAF, but he was a serious actor long before that role, and intends to keep it that way. He is not a circuit boy, and keeps his private life private. As serious as our talks are, his fans have discovered my think piece on Beckett which has a teeny tiny pic of the lad, and it's gone viral becoming the most read piece on my Berkshire on Stage site. His fans from Germany, Italy and Japan have whole websites devoted to him. The QAF series continues to be rebroadcast both in the US on Logo and Ovation, and internationally.

The Jewdy Show - My Life as a Sitcom

As mentioned in the previous post, Judy Gold took over the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. She knows funny (with a Jewish Lesbian Mother twist) like few others. This is no stand-up act however, it is a full bore theatrical production, and you can read a bit of its history in this advance story.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Guide to LGBT shows this summer. Who knew there were so many!

Actors come in many varieties, too.

Do you think the Berkshires are ready for Judy Gold? This week in Williamstown she's about to reveal her latest comic outing titled The Jewdy Show - My Life as a Sitcom. Her unique brand of humor was honed in the clubs of Provincetown, small stages she shared with Lea DeLaria, Paula Poundstone, Sandra Bernhard and Kate Clinton. What would the annual October Women's Week in P-Town be without her special appearances? Not as funny, for one thing.

So, if you have been blissfully unaware that the esteemed and venerable Williamstown Theatre Festival is opening its 2010 season with both the king and queen of LGBTJ comedy, you are hereby informed.

And since the fact that much of the top entertainment in the Berkshires has creative LGBT writers, performers and content that is poorly publicized, you might just help spread the word. And take a gander at the advance story I have written about Judy and her show in

Judy Gold (l) and her partner Elysa.

You might also make that a regular stop in your web browsing since it has an LGBT category that you can search for the latest entertainment of special interest. Of course you will also find reviews and interviews that you won't find anywhere else as well. Right now we have two advance stories on Sweeney Todd which opens Wednesday, a photo preview of the cast and show, and an interview with director Julianne Boyd about her Sondheim obsession.

You may also want to read all about The Baltimore Waltz being done by Main Street Stage in North Adams. The Paula Vogel play is filled with humor as she uses her imagination to cope with the loss of her brother to AIDS. It's far from depressing, as I point out in my Berkshire On Stage review.

There is also a complete listing with photos of all the cabaret artists coming to the Berkshires this summer. While we were disappointed to see Elaine Stritch postponed since she and the LGBT community are long time friends, her replacement, the glorious Barbara Cook is also dearly beloved. I last saw her at the Provincetown Town Hall. Now I can enjoy hearing her again right here in the Berkshires at the LGBT friendly Mahaiwe in Great Barrington. And, my heart be still, Ute Lemper is due in at the Colonial I could go on. If you love cabaret, read the full story and start saving those pennies.

The maestro, simply referred to as MTT, is a master of Mahler.

And over at Tanglewood, the replacement of the perpetually ailing James Levine with Michael Tilson Thomas (story with slide show) on opening weekend comes as great news to the LGBT community. MTT is the first openly gay conductor to achieve national prominence without having to conceal his homosexuality. Currently the music director of the San Francisco Symphony, we think he would make a great leader for the BSO and Tanglewood, and say so in this story that has been getting lots of hits and controversy in the classical community.

Les Ballets de Trockadero make audiences laugh - they are in pointe shoes and tutus, after all - but oh my, how can they dance!.
Over at Jacob's Pillow, there is dance, dance and more dance, including all those free performances on the inside/out stage at dusk. But if I had to pick two companies not to be missed, it would have to be the Trey McIntyre Project (August 4-8) and the fabulous, stunning, outrageous "Trocks" who play various programs from August 11-15. And if you love real Russian ballet, the incredible ballerina assoluta stupenda Nina Ananiashvili and the State Ballet of Georgia takes the stage this week. The complete Pillow schedule with video samples of each group is on a special page at

Want more? There is also the Bill Nelson All Male Review coming to Barrington Stage Company, and the Bill Finn Labor Day weekend show with the horribly long name that always include LGBT composers.

Who is not excited about the all-male version of the Sondheim musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. That already witty show opening in Williamstown next week should deiight both the eye and the ear. We searched for all the cast member's pictures too, and you can see them in our exclusive Berkshire on Stage preview story.

I'm not done yet. Don't forget the three social "out" nights at Barrington Stage, a first for the Berkshires.

Check the post that follows this one. It will have additional details I am confirming now. You can also keep up to date on the latest buzz by joining the Berkshire On Stage Facebook group. Each new article gets a link on the wall, and you get weekly pick and preview announcements.