Arts, Dining & Entertainment

Fifth Summer Pride Theater Festival aims to build understanding of LGBT world

Vermont Pride Festival at Chandler, The Kid Thing

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“The Kid Thing” focuses on two lesbian couples contemplating parenthood.

July 17-19, 24-26 — RANDOLPH — As many readers will remember, Central Vermont was a hotbed of anti-civil union sentiment during Vermont’s difficult 2000 debate about civil unions, and attitudes here had not changed much by the time same-sex marriage was approved in 2009.  To build understanding among community members, Vermont Pride Theater was created in summer 2011 and since has been presenting on stage the concerns and issues of gay and lesbian Vermonters within a context encouraging dialogue between audiences and performers.

This year’s Summer Pride Theater Festival, July 17-19 and 24-26, will be another diverse and multi-generational experience: Vermont premieres of two exciting plays, with actors from throughout the region, along with the Vermont debuts of renowned guest artists from both coasts. All performances will take place in historic Chandler Music Hall, Randolph.

Jonathan Harvey’s classic play “Beautiful Thing”, Friday July 17 and Sunday July 26, 7:30 p.m.: Set in a working-class neighborhood of southeast London, “Beautiful Thing” tells of high-school student Jamie and his attraction to his neighbor Ste (Steve). “This is more than a simple boy-meets-boy-and-falls-in-love story,” suggests director Cher Laston. “It is the tale of two young men and their shared sexual awakening – a beautiful thing – juxtaposed against a backdrop of poverty, ignorance, and violence and underscored by the soulful tunes of Cass Eliot, embodied by their gal pal Leah.”  The cast of local youth and adults, from Strafford to East Montpelier and towns in between, is excited to present this tough yet tender and funny work.

Sarah Gubbins’ prize-winning new play “The Kid Thing,”  Sunday July 19 and Friday July 24, 7:30 p.m.: Of the award-winning production of “The Kid Thing” in Chicago, Variety said, “Two lesbian couples contemplate parenthood in this play, which smartly mixes debate and drama, argument and psychological revelation.” Veteran director Margo Whitcomb was drawn to work with the Pride Festival for the first time because of this cutting-edge new play, saying “The dialogue and story are fresh and real, offering an uncompromising look at changing values in today’s LGBT world.”

“John Epperson: Show Trash,”  Saturday July 18, 7:30 p.m.: Performed by Mr. Epperson with the help of projections, anecdotes, and songs, it traces how a shy, misfit kid from Mississippi came to re-incarnate the glamor goddesses of yesterday in his big-city showbiz persona “Lypsinka.” This one-night-only show, directed by Barry Kleinbort, makes its New England debut at Chandler by special arrangement.

Terry Baum’s “HICK – A Love Story”, Saturday July 25, 7:30 p.m.: A moving portrayal of the little-known love affair between first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and hard-living, butch reporter Lorena “Hick” Hickok. Opening in San Francisco to rave reviews, the play was called, “A real love story like no other. A compelling one-woman event,” by the San Francisco Examiner. A one-time-only performance, not to be missed.

As mentioned above, interaction between performance and discussion is a key part of Vermont Pride Theater’s mission. All six performances will be followed by talkbacks between the performers and their audiences. A complimentary reception, to meet and greet the performers, will be offered after each talkback.

Tickets for adults are $17 advance, $20 day of show; students, $12 advance, $15 day of show; four-admission pass $60, at www.chandler-arts.org, or 802-728-6464.

Rounding out the entire festival, landscapes and collages by visual artist Marie LaPre-Grabon will be on exhibit in the Chandler Downstairs Gallery.

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