Avenue Q’s director brings puppetry experience to show’s run at Mad Cow

By : Jamie Hyman
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Avenue Q has three defining characteristics: a mix of actors and puppets, the raunchy mischief those puppets deliver, and the shock value of seeing fuzzy puppet friends in some very adult situations. That means puppetry – which is harder than it looks – is key to Avenue Q‘s success. When Mad Cow Theatre executive director Mitzi Maxwell hired Orlando director Juan Cantu to direct the show, she hired a director with past experience working with puppets at Disney World. Cantu, knowing how key puppetry is to Avenue Q, brought in even more experience: Michael Ziegfeld, a comedian and puppeteer who has worked with Jim Henson. Together, they trained the cast, which Cantu says he chose based on their singing and dancing skills, because he says it’s easier to teach actors puppetry than to teach puppeteers how to sing and dance and act.

Despite the emphasis on puppetry, Cantu tells Watermark that Avenue Q is a very human story which he hopes will start a conversation among those who see it.

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Bathrooms become battlegrounds in anti-discrimination debate

By : Wire Report
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – As bathrooms become battlegrounds in the national debate over anti-discrimination laws, a city council’s decision to protect the restroom choices of transgender people in Charlotte, North Carolina, was cheered Feb. 23 by rights advocates as a courageous move. But it may not stand for very long.

Gov. Pat McCrory told The Associated Press that the bathroom provision denies privacy rights for people who expect to share restrooms or locker rooms only with people born with the same anatomy.

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Sexual politics: Money, money, money and the LGBT community

By : Stephen Miller
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Our community is becoming more and more aware of our political clout, especially as public sentiment has slowly shifted and gay and lesbian couples are combining assets. In fact, one major force for change in the political landscape has been brought to you by LGBT donations into political campaigns.

A good indicator for how things have changed was Obama’s run for re-election in 2012, where LGBT money made a significant difference.
In the early 2000s, LGBT donations had, overall, been dropping, both in 2010 and 2014. The Center for Responsive Politics states that funds dropped 58 percent from the 2006 election cycle to the 2010 cycle. It dropped another 12 percent between 2010 and 2014 for most candidates.

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Jason and deMarco to Perform at SunCoast Cathedral MCC

By : Krista DiTucci
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As part of their “Anything is Possible” tour, contemporary pop worship artists Jason and deMarco will be performing live at SunCoast Cathedral MCC in Venice on Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. The concert will be a free-will offering and coincides with the church’s 21st anniversary.

Susie Brenner, SunCoast MCC program developer, says she is excited about their music and the message they bring.

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Suck Dynasty: Cruz surrogate Phil Robertson wants the gays and those who support them gone; Cruz agrees

By : Billy Manes
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As expected, we’re at that moment when the red-rover game of the Iowa Caucuses meets its sociopolitical nadir. Over the weekend, it was slightly less than entertaining to see what amounts to nothing short of bigotry on display among two of the Republican Party’s top-tier candidates, Ted Cruz and Donald (Dump) Trump. The former chose Duck Dynasty beard Phil Robertson to air his grievances with same sex-marriage on Sunday, according to a CNN Report. We’re “evil” and “wicked,” Robertson said, but in his world “no” probably means “yes,” so we won’t let it bother our sensitive take on humane discourse.

“When a fellow like me looks at the landscape and sees depravity, the perversion – redefining marriage and telling us that marriage is not between a man and a woman? Come on, Iowa!” Robertson grumbled while grease caked in his hirsute hate face. “It is nonsense. It is evil. It’s wicked. It’s sinful. They want us to swallow it, you say. (!!!!!!!! – ed.) We have to run this bunch out of Washington D.C. We have to rid the earth of them. Get them out of there.”

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“Christmas Spectacular” update: Wanzie wins!

By : Jamie Hyman
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We recently reported that Watermark columnist and Orange Blossom Trail Living Nativity Christmas Spectacular creator Michael Wanzie received a cease and desist letter from attorneys for Radio City Music Hall, accusing him of infringing on their trademark of the phrase “Christmas Spectacular.”

Wanzie posted an update, that he’s been back and forth with the attorneys since, discussing the boundaries of satire and the legal battles he has fought (and won) regarding other parody productions. Find out what happened after the jump: 

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As LGBT acceptance grows, Italians struggle to redefine family

By : Wire Report
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Rome (AP) – In Italy, family is considered so sacred that marriage is lauded in the Constitution. But what kind of family?

That has become a bitterly divisive question in a nation where the Vatican packs considerable political weight and where gays have grown impatient as other traditionally Catholic European countries have either allowed same-sex couples to marry or legally recognized their civil unions.

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Overheard in Orlando: TheBroadwayWorld.com winners and “stolen” talent

By : Anonymous
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And the Winners are …
TheBroadWayWorld.com results are in, and several LGBT and LGBT friendly performers were on the top of the list as the winners. Fuck me gently with a chainsaw! The multi-talented, Blue Star for the Best Choreography (Professional) for the popular Heathers: the Musical. Kenny Howard also won best Direction of a Musical (Professional) for Heathers: the Musical – Lick it up, baby. Lick it up! Heathers: the Musical was based on the black comedy, teen-angst ridden film from the ‘80s that starred Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. Kenny also won Best Direction of a Play (Professional) for The Flick – both shows were performed at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and were locally produced.

Baring it all!
It’s been recently announced that one of the most risqué annual art exhibits has found a new home. Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is a time for lovers, but even if you’re single, you’d be certainly guaranteed to get an eyeful of the artistic expressions of the nude form. Nude Nite returns, and it will be hosted Artegon Marketplace, home of various shops featuring local artisans, so this certainly feels like a great fit. Located on the north end of I-Drive, the new location not only offers a leak proof roof, but also bountiful and secure parking. (Not commonly found in previous Nude Nites). If you would like to participate, there is still a call for live artists as well. Nude Nite Orlando, will run from February 11-13; tickets are on sale now and often sell out! There’s also a Nude Nite Tampa coming in March.

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Orlando gay organizations add groups

By : Jamie Hyman
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Two Central Florida LGBT organizations are offering new groups to benefit the community they serve.

Older, Wiser, Learning (OWL), a program for older LGBTs run out of the GLBT Center, now offers a weekly “Lady Hoots,” a forum for women to discuss issues and topics they face in their daily lives.

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Reno youth center cuts ties with chaplain over LGBT views

By : Jamie Hyman
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Reno, Nev. (AP) – A Reno juvenile detention center cut ties with a longtime chaplain over his views on homosexuality, highlighting an issue that some state-run correctional facilities face.

The facility is looking for someone with more tolerant views to lead Sunday services and Bible classes, detention center division director Steven Calabrese said. Calabrese told the Reno Gazette-Journal the decision was made in light of recent sermons made by Marvin Neal.

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Tampa Bay AIDS Walk and Fun Run has big turn out

By : Jeremy Williams
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AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) and Empath Health hosted the 12th annual AIDS Walk Tampa Bay at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg Dec. 12.

More than 1,000 people participated in the walk, which began with a new Fun Run. Early reports from ASAP say they raised $135,000 and with  donations still coming in that number will climb.

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11.19.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

I can still remember the scents, the sounds, the television movies and the intentional distractions associated with my first encounters with the HIV virus: its full-blown AIDS inevitability (at the time) replete with lesions forming volcanic country masses across innocent chests and arms, the crushed ego of acting legend Rock Hudson as his strong jaw turned sadly and vulnerably into a fading vibration, the tacit reconciliation that swallowed the fluttering falsetto of Queen’s regal Freddie Mercury as he sat before the clicks and clacks of prying press cameras to speak to the fact that he, too, had fallen, would fall, and, in fact, was dead shortly thereafter. I remember it all, because this is largely my history. We watched, we felt punished, my closet doors were glued shut, and this would never, ever happen to me.

But mostly I remember a telephone call to my landline in my Florida State University dorm room, one where the absence of air conditioning made everything feel like a sweaty inquisition, a drip pan for shame or humility.

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