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Winter Fire and Ice Gala

Food, fun and fundraising to benefit Positive Directions

By Beth Wasson

WICHITA - If you’re looking for a little fun after the holidays the Winter Fire and Ice Gala might be the event for you. Happening Jan. 19 at Abode Venue, the evening promises fun, food, and a fundraising auction for Positive Directions Inc. (PDI), a local non-profit organization committed to the prevention of HIV.
    Tickets, only available online at postivedirectionsks.org, are $80 for the main event starting at 7pm, or $100 for early entry as a VIP at 6pm. Beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres and what Executive Director Brett Hogan describes as “eye-popping ambient entertainment” are included with the admission price.
    Without revealing too much, Hogan promises a “fun, funky night” with the likes of magicians, singers, and dancers performing continuously throughout the gala. Attendees are encouraged to dress for fun whether that is formal attire or a more casual choice.
    Underwriters for the gala include Spirit AeroSystems, XY Bar, Abode Venue, Douglas Design District, and B Young Salon along with many private donations. The fun continues with an after party at XY in Old Town. One hundred percent of the ticket price goes to PDI for funding its services and community outreach.  

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Signature Theatre produces Cuckoo’s Nest

By John Dalton-White

WICHITA - Signature Theatre will begin its 2018 theatre season with Dale Wasserman’s adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, to be presented at the Wichita Scottish Rite Theatre Jan. 19-20 at 8pm and Jan. 21 at 7pm.
    A boisterous, ribald and ultimately devastating story of a mental hospital and its inhabitants, Nurse Ratched (played by Teri Mott) runs her ward with icy efficiency. With a firm hand on medication, treatment and basic necessities, her word is law and dissent is punished. Into this isolated world struts Randle P. McMurphy (played by Quinn Warren), a charming rogue who has chosen a stint in the mental institution rather than face prison. Brash and rebellious, McMurphy soon ignites a power struggle that can only end in their mutual destruction.

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ABBA MANIA returns to Orpheum in February

27-Dec-17 29WICHITA -  The ABBA tribute band ABBA MANIA returns to Wichita’s historic Orpheum Theatre at 7:30pm on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
    The band formed in 1999 and the show has been selling out theatres and concert halls internationally ever since. ABBA MANIA will be touring the U.S. again in 2018 with 30 shows over five weeks including a prestigious date in Las Vegas.
    It’s a very exciting time for all things ABBA as there is talk of an ABBA reunion concert in 2018 and a sequel to the hit movie Mamma Mia.

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Heart of America Men’s Chorus seeks new members

27-Dec-17 30By Greg Dalton-White

WICHITA - Are you a male between 18 and 80? Do you like to sing? Do you enjoy choral music? Then the Heart of America Men’s Chorus (HOAMC)  might be the place to start. HOAMC is looking for men to join the ranks of the bass, baritones, 2nd tenors and 1st tenors for their Spring concert that will feature the songs of Disney.    
    It is easy to join. Just show up for the first rehearsal on Jan. 16 at 7pm in the vocal music room located on the second floor of the DeMattias Performance Hall at 3100 W. McCormick. The chorus’ artistic director, Deanne Zogelman, will ask you to sing a bit with a small group to fit you into the right section of the chorus. That’s all it takes.
    Chorus members do pay a $40 fee (tax-deductible) to help support the financial obligations of purchasing music and accompanist fees. This concert will not require tuxes, but if you stay with the chorus a tux will be necessary. We have some scholarships available to help with this if it will cause a burden, or you can search at the various thrift shops in town to find one.

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‘Gut-level drama’ featuring gay character to be performed at Wichita Community Theatre

By Jamie Rhodes

27-Dec-17 35WICHITA - Wichita Community Theatre opens its 2018 season with Hugh Whitemore’s play Breaking the Code. Directed by Leroy Clark, the production focuses on Word War II hero Alan Turing. Two predominate things stand out with Turing: one, he was a brilliant mathematician who invented the computer and helped put an end to WWII by breaking Nazi Germany’s secret Enigma Code, and two, he was a homosexual.
    Due to Turing’s classified work during the war, most were not aware of his role in ending it until many years later. He didn’t receive any public credit for his brilliancy. What the public chose to see was his “crime” of homosexuality during a time when it was outlawed in Great Britain. After his conviction, he was punished with chemical castration undergoing a series of dangerous hormonal therapy drugs which left him impotent and incapacitated both physically and mentally. Turing died alone and forgotten after committing suicide.
    The beginning of the play takes place in 1952. Throughout the play, the audience can expect to see flashbacks of Turing’s life starting from 1929. Although the play does address Turing’s role in the war, it focuses primarily on his personal life as a gay man.

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Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.

Tallgrass Film Festival to feature Alaska Is a Drag, other LGBTQ Films

28-Sep-17 91By Ciara Reid, staff reporter

WICHITA - The 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival will take place Oct. 18-22 and will screen several LGBTQ films: Alaska Is a Drag, Woman on Fire, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, and The Feels.
    Alaska Is a Drag is director Shaz Bennett’s feature debut, and was born from her own dreams while working in a cannery in Salt Lake City. The film stars Martin L. Washington, Jr. as Leo, an aspiring drag superstar, who is stuck working in a fish cannery in Alaska. He and his twin sister are trapped in the monotony of fist fights and fish guts. Out of necessity, Leo learned to fight back, which catches the attention of the local boxing coach. When a new boy moves to town and wants to be his sparring partner, Leo has to face the real reason he’s stuck in Alaska.
    Matt Dallas, star of the show Kyle XY which aired for several seasons in the mid-2000s, plays the role of Declan, the new kid in town who becomes Leo’s boxing sparring partner. Dallas became involved in the film after a call from his manager.


    “I immediately fell in love with the message,” Dallas said in an interview with Liberty Press. “The journey that the lead character goes through, to fight for his right to be himself. There is so much hope and beauty. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
    Alaska Is a Drag was shot in three weeks. During filming, the main cast lived together in a beach house. Dallas says they would rehearse all day, then continue work into the night. This allowed the cast to truly gel as an ensemble.
    A native of Phoenix, Dallas currently lives in Los Angeles with his husband Blue Hamilton and their son, Crow, who they recently adopted through Arizona’s foster care system. For about a year, Dallas and his husband have been producing content for their YouTube channel, Matt and Blue, which currently has more than 177,000 subscribers. The idea for the channel stemmed from Dallas and Hamilton feeling creatively disconnected.
    When Dallas worked on Alaska Is a Drag, his costars Maya Washington and Martin L. Washington, Jr. had YouTube channels. “After spending three weeks with them, and seeing their creative outlet, you have this platform where you can do anything you want,” Dallas says.
    Their videos showcase various elements of their daily life, and is incredibly relatable and hilarious. The most popular video is titled “Things Husbands Do” and includes scenes of Dallas and Hamilton accidentally wearing the same thing, being mistaken for twins by a stranger, and humorous confusion over which dad their son Crow is referring to when he calls for “dad.”
    “As we started doing it, we started realizing it was an opportunity to shed light on the foster/adoption system, and what it means to be a gay family,” Dallas says. Their story has resonated with many people.
    Last fall, during a trip to Disneyland, Dallas and Hamilton noticed a teenager staring, seeming to recognize them. The boy and his mother came over and introduced themselves, and the boy told them how watching their videos helped him feel comfortable and to come out. His mother was crying.
    “Her son made her sit down and watch the videos with him,” Dallas says. “It was a moment of realization for her, that he could have kids, that life. To me, that was one of the most powerful moments, hugging his mom and her kid.”
    Dallas and Hamilton are focusing on expanding their channel and content. “We’re excited to grow and evolve the channel and the brand,” Dallas says. In addition to their YouTube channel, Dallas has been working on a passion project for the last six years that he hopes will go into production soon.
    The script tells the story of two veterans who return from deployment and begin to re-acclimate. “It’s really about post-traumatic growth,” Dallas says. Dallas has been serving as a producer of the film, and will play a role in the film as well.
    Another LGBTQ film that will be featured at the festival is Woman on Fire, a documentary that focuses on Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter in New York City. Guinan is a third generation fire fighter. The film documents all facets of her struggles as she transitions, both professionally and in her personal life.
    The Feels, directed by Jenee LaMarque, starring Constance Wu, Josh Fadem, as well as LaMarque, tells the story of a lesbian bachelorette weekend that goes awry when one of the brides admits she has never had an orgasm.
    The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, a documentary directed by Jennifer M. Kroot, examines the life and work of one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer, whose novels have inspired millions to claim their own truth, according to the synopsis on the film’s website, www.armisteadfilm.com.
    Kroot’s documentary about the creator of Tales Of The City moves nimbly between playful and poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. With help from his friends (including Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan) Maupin offers a disarmingly frank look at the journey that took him from the jungles of Vietnam to the bathhouses of 70’s San Francisco to the front line of the American culture war.
    For showtimes, venues, and ticket information, visit www.tallgrassfilm.org. l

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