Sacramento Ballet at The Sofia

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The Sofia stays committed to the local arts community by hosting several arts organizations. In the first year The Sofia opened its doors to the Sacramento Ballet, The Sacramento Women’s Chorus, CORE Dance, and the Creativity Summit. This week, the Sacramento Ballet takes over Sutter Theatre for Children with their performance of Fast Forward. B Street Theatre’s Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill interviewed the ballet’s Artistic Director Amy Seiwert about her first year in Sacramento, the ballet’s upcoming performance, and Sacramento Art Institutions working together. 

How long have you been the Artistic Director at the Sacramento Ballet? 

It will be a year in July. This weekend’s performances, Fast Forward, mark the end of my first curated season with the company. It’s been an amazing first year so far.

What are your thoughts on Sacramento’s support of arts organizations? 

There is a community here of highly committed patrons and organizations that are incredibly supportive; they are helping the scene thrive. We are hoping to grow that family of people who are in love with the Sacramento Ballet and what we do.

The arts here do have a challenge. The City of Sacramento does not financially support the non-profit arts organizations at the same level of many other American cities our size. Though the City put considerable resources into building the Creative Edge plan, how can it be implemented without adequate funding? Though there is ample research showing the arts as an economic driver, and community consensus of the need for cultural equity, as a municipality, we are not fully making those investments.

Photo by Keith Sutter. Featuring Kaori Higashiyama and Richard Smith

How many performances has the Sacramento Ballet performed at The Sofia?

This season we did two series of four shows each. For 2019-20 we’re expanding that to three series.

Why did the Sacramento Ballet decide to come to The Sofia?

It is an excellent venue for us. The audience can experience our artists in an intimate setting with exceptional production values. This creates a unique experience for the viewer; the physicality and emotion is so close that it can have a significant impact without being overly theatrical.

Photo by Keith Sutter. Featuring Ava Chatterson and the Sacramento Ballet Company 

Why is The Sofia a great space for both the Sacramento Ballet and for Sacramento in general?

Whenever a community comes together for a performance, there is the potential for a cathartic experience. Given the sheer magnitude of options that modern society has for entertainment, this is one thing the performing arts have over Netflix. B Street thought this theater through so well; it truly is a place for the community to come together.

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Photo by Rudy Myers. Featuring the Sutter Theatre for Children

The Sacramento Ballet performs at The Sofia from May 16 through May 19. Go to http://www.sacballet.org/events/ or https://bstreettheatre.org/shows/?series=other-entertainment to purchase tickets to see the best dancers in Sacramento in the city’s most beautiful live entertainment venue. 

 

 

 

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Critically Acclaimed ‘A Doll’s House Part 2’ Comes to B Street

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A Doll’s House Part 2 was one of 2017’s most acclaimed plays. As our second title of the 2019 Mainstage Season, B Street Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill gives some background on how the play came about and the impact it has made on theatre.

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House shocked audiences when it first took the stage on December 21, 1879. Ibsen directly challenged the “bourgeois respectability” of Norway’s upper middle class, specifically society’s mandate that a woman’s main responsibility was to serve and satisfy her husband. Ibsen wrote, “A woman cannot be herself in contemporary society, it is an exclusively male society with laws drafted by men, and with counsel and judges who judge feminine conduct from the male point of view.” So, Ibsen’s main protagonist, Nora, slams the front door behind her, rebuking her upper middle-class life, leaving her family, and venturing out in to the world to discover who she really is. This “door slam heard ’round the world” made A Doll’s House one of the greatest theatrical works in history.

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Classic production at A Doll’s House 

Because of this legacy, many aspiring playwrights have attempted to write a sequel to Ibsen’s classic. However, most have failed. The most famous of these flops was the 1982 musical adaptation A Doll’s Life, which was panned by the New York Times as, “Over-produced, over-acted, and unrecognizable from the source material.” A Doll’s Life followed Nora as she attempted to re-new her life in society. She ended up in multiple relationships and never truly discovered herself outside of the male gaze.

As feminist ideology and women’s right activism came to the social forefront in the 20th century, it seemed truly impossible to continue the story of Nora, one of theater’s greatest heroines. Many people translated the original text to mirror the modern day, but nothing came close to the social impact Ibsen made. That was, until 2016, when playwright Lucas Hnath, writer of such hits as The Christians and Little Red Speedo, was sitting at a table and contemplating ideas for his next play.

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“It started with the title,” Hnath said in an interview on Charlie Rose. “I wrote down the title, and it made me laugh.” And thus, an endeavor which no one thought could be done, began. Hnath’s adaptation begins 15 years after Nora slammed the door on her former life, and the first scene is our heroine returning to that same door, knocking, wishing to enter so that her divorce can be finalized, and she can continue her life as an acclaimed author.

Opening at South Coast Repertory in April of 2016, A Doll’s House Part 2 was immediately adored by critics for its humor, wit, and depth. It started its Broadway run in April of 2017, and again was praised as a worthy sequel to Ibsen. As New York Time’s Ben Brantley wrote, “He (Hnath) has written instead an endlessly open debate. Which for the record never feels like a debate, such is the emotional commitment of the cast and the immediacy of Mr. Gold’s fine, sensitive production. This unexpectedly rich sequel reminds us that houses tremble and sometimes fall when doors slam, and that there are living people within, who may be wounded or lost.”

A Doll’s House Part 2 received 8 Tony Nominations in 2017 (including Best Play), and Laurie Metcalf won the Tony for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The play went on to become the most produced in the country, receiving 27 separate productions in 2018. It will make its premiere in Sacramento at The Sofia, home of B Street Theatre.

“The first time I read the play, I knew we had to do it,” commented Artistic Producer and director Dave Pierini. “It’s funny, it’s cut throat, and more than anything else, requires great acting. B Street Theatre has one of the best acting companies in the country, and we knew we could deliver everything this script demands.”

The B Street Theatre production will feature four great actors. Core Company Member Tara Sissom will play Nora’s estranged daughter, Emmy. Brian Dykstra, known to B Street audiences for his superb performance in Red and The Price will play Nora’s husband, Torvald Helmer. Company Member Stephanie McVay will make her debut at The Sofia as the Helmer’s nanny, Anne Marie, and B Street Company Member Melinda Parrett, who has time and time again showcased her talent in B Street productions such as Rx, Elemeno Pea, and Dry Powder, will star as Nora.

From Left to Right: Stephanie McVay (Mending Fences), Brian Dykstra (Red), Melinda Parrett (Dry Powder), Tara Sissom (Treatment) 

B Street Theatre is known for producing the hottest new plays coming out of New York. A Doll’s House Part 2 continues this tradition, bringing the best contemporary plays to the Norther California area. You don’t want to miss this one.

Previews for A Doll’s House Part 2 begins this Tuesday and opens on Friday March 1. Come see this hilarious, critically acclaimed hit with some of the best actors in the country. Tickets on sale now!

 

 

Historic Figures in “Sound of Freedom”

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In B Street Theatre’s current Family Series production of Martin Luther King Jr. & The Sound of Freedom, many people who stood along Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights movement are highlighted. In this blog, we’ll go into detail these figure’s acts of bravery which changed our country forever

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Rosa Parks & Claudette Colvin 

Rosa Parks became a figure head for the Civil Rights movement on December 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She became known as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement as her one decision started the Montgomery Bus Riots. But Rosa Parks was not the first person who refused to move.

At the age of 15, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on March 2, 1955. She told the bus driver who was attempting to remove her from the seat, “It’s my constitutional right to sit here as much as that lady. I paid my fare, it’s my constitutional right.” Colvin was arrested on several charges, including violating the city’s segregation laws, but Claudette Colvin fought back through the legal system.  Along with four other plaintiffs, Colvin took the state of Alabama’s segregation laws to court in the Browder v. Gayle case. Colvin and the other plaintiffs won, and the federal government deemed that segregated buses were not constitutional.

Claudette Colvin moved to New York City in 1958, but continued to write about the unjust laws which kept African-Americans from advancing in society. In an interview with Newsweek, she said, “”I felt like Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman was pushing down on the other—saying, ‘Sit down girl!’ I was glued to my seat.” She, along with Rosa Parks, began the fight against segregation in Montgomery, Alabama.

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Fannie Lou Hamer 

Born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer was a crop sharer for most of her life. She settled in Sunflower County, Mississippi with her husband ‘Pap Hamer’, who drove a tractor. On one fateful day, while walking by the Ruleville, Mississippi town center, Fannie Lou saw a sign posted by the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and decided to investigate. She joined SNCC and worked as a field worker on the voter registration committee. The committee worked on preparing blacks to read and write so they could register to vote. Seventeen people tried to register and were turned back one day. When her boss was informed of the drive to register, he threatened Fannie Lou and her family with expulsion from the plantation. She left that night and stayed with friends but it wasn’t long before her location was discovered and she and her friends were shot at that night by the KKK.

She refused to back down. In 1963, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was formed because no help from the Federal Government regarding the right to vote was apparently coming. The party registered 60, 000 new black voters across the state of Mississippi. Delegates from the party were sent to the 1964, Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey where they challenged the seating of the Mississippi delegation.

Fannie Lou took the opportunity to describe to the convention, and to the world, the horrific way she was treated after they left the voter registration workshop in Charleston, South Carolina in June 1963. She said that on the way home, they were hungry and wanted to stop at a Trailways bus terminal in Winona, Mississippi for food. Fannie Lou decided to stay on the bus while the others went into the terminal. They were not served but were arrested. She was also arrested. She was taken out of her jail cell and placed in another cell and, under the orders of a State Highway Patrol officer, was beaten by two black prisoners with a police blackjack—ordered to do so unless the prisoners wanted far worse punishment. The first prisoner beat her until he was exhausted. The law enforcement officer then ordered the second prisoner to beat her. It was three days before members of SNCC were allowed to take her to the hospital. Fannie Lou told the convention that as a result of this beating, she suffered permanent kidney damage, a blood clot in the artery of her left eye, and a limp when she walked. Her riveting testimony to the convention informed the country about the treatment blacks were receiving at the hands of whites in the state of Mississippi and the rest of the south.

Fannie Lou Hamer continued her activism, as she led the cotton picker’s rebellion in 1965 and was instrumental in helping to bring a Head Start program to her hometown of Ruleville, Mississippi and was involved in other programs throughout the state. Fannie Lou was a Democratic National Committee Representative from 1968-1971. She ran for the Mississippi State Senate in 1971 and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972.

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James Reeb 

A minister from Boston, Massachusetts, James Reeb was one of many northern clergymen who heard Dr. Martin Luther King’s call on March 8, 1965 and headed down to Alabama to march for freedom. Reeb was known in Boston as a minister who challenged his congregations to acknowledge the injustice African-Americans faced in this country and to do something about it. He turned his words into actions when he ventured south to face these oppressors. He was a part of the group that began the march to Selma, only to turn back when violence faced them.

That same night,  a group of ministers went out to dinner at a place called Walker’s, one of the few racially integrated restaurants in the area. While others departed by car after dinner, Reeb and two other Unitarian  ministers, Orloff Miller and Clark Olsen, left on foot. The three headed, side by side, to the chapel where Dr. King was to speak. James Reeb walked on the outside, nearest the street. They had not gone far when four or five white men came at them from across the street. Frightened, the three walked faster. They realized one of the men had a stick. When the attackers reached the three ministers, one swung his heavy stick and smashed the side of James Reeb’s head. Miller and Olsen were beaten and kicked on the sidewalk. When the attack was over, it was clear that Reeb was seriously hurt.

They called an ambulance, but because the driver of that ambulance was black, the police refused to help Reeb and it took several hours before he went into surgery. He would die on March 11, 1965.

The death of James Reeb caused nation-wide outcry over the violence in Selma. President Lyndon B. Johnson immediately sent the Civil Right’s Act to the Congress floor. Reeb’s sacrifice shed a light on the brutality which opposed the basic liberties that African Americans were fighting for. Dr. King, instead of appearing for the signing of the Civil Rights Act, went to Reeb’s funeral and gave a moving eulogy for the minister who gave up everything for the liberty of his fellow man.

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Martin Luther King Jr. & The Sound of Freedom closes with performances Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 PM. Get your tickets now and come see this important and moving play. 

 

 

 

Jahi Kearse plays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Company Member Jahi Kearse returns to the B Street Theatre to make his debut in the Family Series as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Martin Luther King Jr. and The Sound of Freedom. Kearse met with Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill to discuss the play and his close relationship with the B Street Theatre.

What is MLK & The Sound of Freedom about?

MLK & The Sound Of Freedom is a show that illustrates the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. It isn’t just about Martin Luther King Jr, but it is rather about the people and moments that inspired Dr. King and many others who answered the call to help usher the United States into a more inclusive way of existence during a troubled time.

Why is this an important story for kids?

This show is very important to kids because it shows just how powerful young people can be when they come together, in the hopes of challenging unjust circumstances & changing the hearts and minds of the world they are a part of.

How does putting this story in a theatrical experience emphasize the important lessons of the Civil Rights Movement?

Theater is an art form that helps us all remember how powerful human connection is in a time where virtual conversations and communications are at an all time high, we are reminded that we can all reach out to one another in real life! Person to person, face to face, hand in hand!

This is your debut in B Street Theatre’s Family Series. What makes you excited to do theatre for children?

This is my debut in the Family Series!!! YAAAAAY!!!!! Theatre for young audiences excites me because, I began my theater career in children’s theater. I have seen for many years how much of an impact this art form can be for young audiences! Young people soak in theater like it’s air!

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You’re about to perform in the Broadway production Ain’t Too Proud. With everything going on in your life, why do you make it a point to return to the B Street Theatre?

First off, B Street is my family! I am such a fan of the bravery, energy, passion, and joy in which B Street Theatre dives in to each and every show! That is what I look for in my theatrical work. I have worked very hard for a long time to be a part of work that matters to both me and the world and my upcoming Broadway show, Aint Too Proud… The Life & Times of The Temptations is in the same spirit of all the shows I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in here at B Street!

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What’s a story from Sound of Freedom that you did not know about before you went into rehearsal?

I was unaware of just how many young people were deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement. So many young people made a stance at a time when they honestly could have been, and maybe should have been, deathly afraid for their own safety. I hope to be remembered as a man who was even nearly as brave as they were.

You play Martin Luther King Jr in the play. What are some of your favorite MLK quotes?

I have a lot.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”

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Come see Jahi in Martin Luther King Jr. & The Sound of Freedom, which opens this Saturday to the public. 

The Creation of B Street Theatre’s “House on Haunted Hill”

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When we announced our 2019 season in June of last year, among the exciting titles like Fun Home and A Doll’s House Part 2 was another familiar title with a vague playwright attached. Below House on Haunted Hill it simply read, “B Street Company.” With the play set to open Friday, it’s time we reveal some of the secrets to this premiere production based on a classic Vincent Price horror film from 1959. The following is an interview with Artistic Producer, playwright, and actor Dave Pierini on the process behind this new work.

Dave, when did B Street Theatre decide to produce our own adaptation of House on Haunted Hill?

Last summer, when we were putting together the 2019 Season, we had selected six out of the seven plays we would produce, but couldn’t find the right play to start off the season right. So, Buck, Jerry and I began talking about stories in which we could adapt in the fashion of Around the World in 80 Days and The 39 Steps, fun theatrical adaptations of beloved stories, that our company of actors always performs well. So we began looking at pieces of literature and discussed some titles, and nothing was clicking. And then one day, I looked up movies that were in the public domain, and House on Haunted Hill was on that list. I mentioned it to Buck, and he pointed to it and said “I remember this movie. I watched this as a kid. It scared the hell out of me. We should adapt this.”

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How long did it take for the play to get written?

Well, I initially started around late June, early July of 2018, when we made the initial decision. I just watched the movie over and over again, and had found the original screenplay and looked to that for inspiration. The first draft took me about two months.

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How much does this adaptation take away from the original script and how much does of the story is new?

The basic story of the movie is still there. I mean, why mess with that? What we wanted to do with this adaptation is make it wildly entertaining while staying loyal to the original film. You can’t put—what Buck likes to call—the murderers row of comedy actors on our stage and do a straight-up adaptation. Our audiences want us to enhance the humor and enlarge the story. My job as the playwright was to provide a canvas for Buck to create all the creative bits and ideas which he is prone to do. We enlarged some of the personality traits of the character, and I limited the amount of locations. My job was to make a clear, simple story so that Buck could easily add his own creativity to the story.

How has it been like to be the playwright and also one of the actors in the play?

I don’t recommend it. It’s hard, because, in rehearsal, I’m constantly listening and thinking about the script, when I’m supposed to be focused on acting. That’s difficult. The fun thing is when stage management gives me a line note, I can just tell them, “Oh no, that’s a rewrite.”

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What’s this play gonna be like for our audiences?

They can expect a classic B Street comedy; similar to Around the World in 80 Days, The 39 Steps, Big Bang, the comedies that made B Street Theatre so popular in this area. A big grand story, with some incredible comedic talent onstage. And I hope they’re a little scared.

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B Street Theatre’s House on Haunted Hill opens Friday January 11 and runs until February 17. Come see Dave Pierini, along with Tara Sissom, Amy Kelly, Greg Alexander, Elisabeth Nunziato, John Lamb, and Jason Kuykendall in this hysterical adaptation of the classic 1959 horror film. 

Georgia McBride: In All Her Glory

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Jon Kovach is a talented actor from New York City and is playing the titular character in Matthew Lopez’s The Legend of Georgia McBride. Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill met with the actor to discuss drag, reprisals, and Sacramento.

Where are you from? 

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, raised in the suburb of West Chester. I moved to NYC in 2015 and have happily lived there since.

What was your first experience with drag? 

My first experience with drag was during my senior year as a Lakota West Theatre student in high school. A recent graduate was returning home for the weekend, and it was rumored that he had been performing in drag. Everyone is a product of their own environment, right? I joined the theatre program late in high school, and before joining, my exposure to anything other than straight-white-conservative was limited. My friends laughed when I asked what “drag” meant, and that weekend said graduate showed me. He was in the bathroom when I arrived to my friend’s parent’s basement, and 25-30 minutes later she came out in full beat (drag make-up), a long blonde wig, womanly curves hidden under a stunning dress, lip-syncing to a bad-ass pop-diva of the time. I remember being confused; why is he doing this? I remember believing that said graduate must have gotten breast implants (I was wrong, it was padding). I remember being embarrassed for looking at her breasts. I remember her dancing close to me, and touching my face. I remember being uncomfortable, and shortly thereafter kindly excusing myself from the event. This opened up a great dialogue with my friends about learning from that discomfort, and growing to be more open-minded. A few summers later, after moving out of my hometown for college, touring the US with a rock-band, and exposing myself to much beyond West Chester, I was performing in Band Geeks! the musical at Human Race Theatre Co. in Dayton, Ohio. Remembering my experience from high school, I tentatively followed our ensemble to a drag show after one of our performances. Surely I had grown, right? Drag queens danced close to me, touched my face, and shoved my hand into their padded breasts when I offered a dollar bill. I still didn’t “get it” fully, at first; the spirit of drag, but I wasn’t uncomfortable. I was curious as opposed to confused. Using my theatre training at Miami University to discern performance choices I asked myself: why lip-syncing as opposed to just singing? Why so much make-up, and overly-bright clothing? Why am I enjoying this so much? Then it clicked. That joy is why. The freedom that drag brings to the audience, the performers, and to myself is why. A freedom from reality, singing without any limitations of what live bodies/voices allow. Freedom from societal gender norms, constraints, clothing trends, and practicalities. Freedom from the discomfort of a homogenous closed-minded upbringing.

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Jon Kovach in Hippodrome Theatre’s production of The Legend of Georgia McBride

You’ve done this show before. What is it like to return to play this role again? 

This is my first time reprising a role, and I am enjoying it more than I thought that I would. Typically, I am cast in a role 1-2 months in advance, then 3-4 weeks of rehearsal, then 3-4 weeks of performances. On this schedule, I am given enough time to form a solid character by opening night, and to be confident in my choices by closing. When the show closes, I may stop working on the story, but the story continues working on me. Meaning, problems/goals will happen in my life that imitate what happens in the script and on stage, and I am able to use what I’ve learned from working on the play in order to solve a problem/achieve a goal in my own life. So I return to Casey at B Street with a much better understanding of the character and the story than I ever could have been able to the last time I performed the role at The Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville, FL last year (a performance I am also very proud of). And, funny enough, this is the second time that I am playing Casey, but the third time that I have gotten an offer for the role. I was offered the part in Fall of 2016, but turned it down at the opportunity to work at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA in Abigail/1702. So, Casey and The Legend of Georgia McBride have been sitting with me since I read the play the first time in Fall 2016, and I’ve never rolled into an opening night feeling more confident in understanding a character, a story than I am for this performance.

Are you enjoying working at B Street Theatre? 

I have thoroughly enjoyed working at B Street Theatre. What a treat to perform in such a beautiful brand-new facility. The staff is so dedicated and passionate to balance so much programming at the quality they produce. This is the hardest-working and most-diversely-skilled intern company that I’ve seen in a regional theatre. Our director, Jerry Montoya, said early in our rehearsal process that B Street focuses mainly on finding strong actors, and that has shown. Between the performance that I caught in Ironbound and the actors that I have the pleasure of sharing the stage with in The Legend of Georgia McBride, this theatre knows how to pick actors.

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What are your impressions of Sacramento? 

My time outside of rehearsal has been limited. This show is physically and emotionally draining for me, Casey goes through quite the journey. What I have seen I’ve really enjoyed. I caught a drag show at Capitol Garage, and had great vegan food during vegan chef challenge month. The bicycle costume parade on Halloween sure was fun. I went for a hike through the river access at Watt Avenue which was fantastic. The weather this time of year is to die for, 80’s around noon and 50’s at night is supreme. Also the variety of plant life if stunning, how can one climate foster evergreens and palm trees?

Why is this show relevant in 2018? 

To briefly echo some points I brought up earlier: it is always important to encourage open-mindedness, to express joy, and celebrate freedom. One of my main concerns in 2018 is the continued push-back against civil rights. Why has the White House chosen to remove any/all LGBTQ terminology from their website/database? Why has the White House recently refused to recognize trans persons’ gender identity? Why does the Republican party continue to endorse a candidate proudly claiming nationalism (rhetoric strongly used by members of the KKK, Neo-Nazis, & white supremacists; groups known for oppressing, beating, and murdering LGBTQ persons)? Drag is different than LGBTQ, straight people perform in drag all of the time, but drag is closely connected to the LGBTQ community, and providing exposure to the LGBTQ community in any way is positive for society. We must continue to fight for LGBTQ rights and representation.

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Drag Queen Anita Cocktail

Who are some drag queens that inspire you? 

Anita Cocktail in Provincetown, MA, is incredible. I worked with Anita’s creator Mike Steers at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors’ Theatre. She’s quite the queen, and hosts a benefit drag show every year for the AIDS foundation. I am recently quite the fan of Mercury Rising, right here in Sacramento, CA. She is endlessly charismatic, witty, has fabulous costumes, and can perform the best death drop (a well-known and incredibly difficult drag dance move) I’ve ever seen.

If you created your own drag persona, what would she be named? 

Miss Tracy Mills from Georgia McBride says to make a drag name on-the-fly use your mother’s birthplace (Sharonville, OH) and the name of the first girl you’ve ever kissed (Brittany Leeland), so I’d start with: Sharon Leeland. That would probably develop into a play on the name Sharon and the word “sharing” to something clever like: Sharon Secrets, Sharon Abed, or Sharon Undies.

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The Legend of Georgia McBride continues on the Mainstage this week and runs until December 9. Come see Jon and the rest of the cast find their inner queen. 

Miss Rexy: Rival of “Georgia McBride”

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In their debut with the B Street Theatre, Kevin Kantor plays Miss Anorexia Nervosa, a talented young drag queen who challenges Georgia McBride. Artistic Associate Sean Patrick Nill met with Kevin to talk about the show, drag queens and more. 

Where are you from?

I am from Denver by way of Chicago, but I’m currently based in New York.

What’s the earliest time you can recall drag or drag queens?

I, like many a young queer boy, wore out the VHS tape of Peter Pan starring Mary Martin in the titular role. I’d say that was probably my earliest memory of and definitive precursor to my affinity for challenging the notion of what gender should or can be. My first experience with watching live drag as performance was growing up going to the bars in Boystown in Chicago.

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You’ve done this show at other theatres? What’s it like to perform the play again?

It’s been a wonderful experience to rediscover this character with a new family and in a new space. So much of a drag persona can be built around their fabulous wardrobe, so I must tip my wig cap to Gina, our costume designer, who has me feeling simply beautiful. And I truly love playing this character. I’m always excited to be playing queer characters, complex, three-dimensional queer characters who get to survive their own stories and celebrate their existence. She has hard-fought battle scars, and I love being able to showcase that you can be resilient but not at the cost of your humanity.

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Kevin Kantor in Hippodrome’s Theatre production of The Legend of Georgia McBride 

What are your impressions of the city of Sacramento?

I can’t wait until we’re open and I can actually do some exploring, but thus far I’ve had a wonderful time at my four main hangs: the theatre, Urban Fitness, the Safeway at Alhambra, and the Starbucks on N and 26th. (Maybe don’t run this answer haha.)

Why is this show relevant in 2018?

This show is truly for everyone and it is a celebration of joy—more specifically, I believe, an invitation for everyone to celebrate queer joy and chosen family. The Legend of Georgia McBride is a show so full of love and light and it actively welcomes people who may not consider themselves part of or initiated in the queer community, and says ‘We love you. We want you here. We want you to celebrate with us,’ while also realizing and paying respect to the hardships that the queer community had to overcome to earn this space, and at time, fight for our lives.”

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Drag Queen Sasha Velour

Who are some of your favorite drag queens working today?

Sasha Velour is one of my top queer icons, hands down. She’s a culturally-conscious, politically-engaged, wears gag-worthy fashion. She’s a queen we need in times like these.

If you personally had a drag persona, what would be her name?

Ana Tevka, a slutty Jewish shtetl bubbe that lip syncs to Jewish Holiday standard and smells like Werther’s Originals hard candies.

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Come see Kevin play Miss Rexy in The Legend of Georgia McBride, running now until December 9. Tickets available at B Street Theatre