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Hot Fun in the Summertime!

The 2019 Entertainment Season Preview

by Steve Desroches

“At the end of June the three musketeers drove off to the Cape barely visible in the maze of valises, wicker baskets and photographic paraphernalia. One would have thought we were the most carefree family in New England and we were. Our summer in Provincetown was fun.” – from The Lonely Life: An Autobiography by Bette Davis, 1962

Bette Davis was just 16 years old when her mother packed she and her younger sister in the car headed to Provincetown that summer of 1924, one the legendary actress remembered fondly for the rest of her life. Her single mother, a portrait photographer by trade, took a job as a maid for a local minister, and Davis and her sister spent their days playing on the harbor beach. Just five years later, Davis would make her professional debut with a role in Virgil Geddes’ play The Earth Between at the Provincetown Playhouse in New York. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Thumb through many a biography or memoir of a famous actor, artist, or performer and you’ll see Provincetown in the index. For a tiny town it has an oversized shared in the launching of many careers. The important role of live entertainment in Provincetown pre-dates the founding of the art colony and the establishment of the Provincetown Players. In the 1880s, at the height of the Gilded Age, tourism as we know it began. There was a growing middle class with free time and money to spend on recreation. While steamship service first connected Provincetown to Boston in 1842, it was in 1883 that the service became largely focused on the tourist trade. And simultaneously, Provincetown became an important stop on the vaudeville circuit, bringing in a variety of acts of the day. That tradition continues in a robust fashion each summer, as Provincetown is still a sparkling hot spot for performers of all stripes.

With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend, we stand on the precipice of the 2019 summer season, one that is jam-packed with live entertainment worthy of this town’s legacy. From the biggest stars of Broadway to the best drag queens in the country, from flying erotic aerialists to the best in stand-up comedy, the list goes on and on. As is tradition here at Provincetown Magazine, we give a run down of some of the amazing talents that will hit the fabled stages of this small spit of sand. Indeed there is a cadre of big names coming to town, but the hallmark of our unique scene is that Provincetown gives voice to so many fringe performers that all marvel at how welcoming the Cape tip is. And keep in mind that you never know when you might see the next big thing. Lily Tomlin, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Dom DeLuise, and Imogene Coca all graced the stages of Provincetown before hitting it big. You just never know where someone will go from here and that’s what makes Provincetown’s performance scene even more exciting. So in this exhaustive digital age, put down your phones and enjoy a live entertainment scene like no other in a town like no other! Happy summer!

Fran Drescher

The Provincetown Theater wraps up their stellar production of August: Osage County this weekend. The Bradford Street theater has found its footing under artistic director David Drake, and excitement is growing after the success of last year and this past spring. The Provincetown Theater eases into summer with the 4-Star Solo Show Festival, which this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, featuring LGBTQ-themed performances starting with Donald C. Shorter, Jr. and Genderosity (May 29), followed by gay rights icon David Mixner in 1969 (June 4 – 5), Mike Albo and his show Spermhood (June 11 – 12), and Marga Gomez with Latin Standards (June 18 – 19). The theater then presents their highly anticipated summer run of the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (July 18 – August 29). If you’ve never been to the Provincetown Theater, make it a point to check it out this summer as it’s become a real creative force in town and is really channeling the energy present here in Provincetown, the birthplace of American theater.

Latrice Royale

The Gold Dust Orphans and the Peregrine Theatre Ensemble once again are sharing space at Fishermen Hall, a beautiful 1930s style theater in the old high school. Each of these theater companies were founded by people who felt the magnetic pull of Provincetown as an artist colony and an eccentric’s haven, realizing the potential for an exploration of bold and daring stage productions. Playwright and camp maestro Ryan Landry brings his hit show The Ebonic Woman (June 24 – Sept. 9) to town after garnering rave reviews during its spring run in Boston at Machine, which is soon to go under the wrecking ball, but with hopes the developers deliver on their promise to create a theater for the Gold Dust Orphans so they don’t actually become theatrical orphans. For over 20 years the Orphans have presented the absolute best original productions carrying on in the tradition of Charles Ludlam and the Cockettes—wild, unpredictable, hilarious, but with a soul. This searing social and political satire stars Qya Marie, a star in the making and definitely someone to watch. Also addressing the troubling times in which we live, the Peregrine Theatre Ensemble picked the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret for their summer production (July 10 – August 31), drawing on the parallels between Weimar Republic Germany and the United States today. After a big hit with their production of Hair last summer, there is an air of anticipation to see how they stage this classic musical as they head into their seventh season.


While the history of American theater is deeply rooted in Provincetown, Cape Cod in general has long been an important spot for summer stock and influential playhouses. Wellfleet, in particular, has for decades now hosted compelling theatrical productions, a tradition that continues at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater and the Harbor Stage Company. Just down Route 6 WHAT kicks off their summer season with David Mamet’s Race (June 7 – 28), followed by the musical Murder For Two (July 5 – 27), and then Vern Thiessen’s Lenin’s Embalmers (August 9 – 31). The Harbor Stage Company hosts several readings of new plays as well as presenting two productions at their “theater by the sea that’s right on the edge,” starting with a world premiere of the comedy The Hermitage by Carrie Barrett (June 13 – July 20) and then an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters (July 25 – September 1).

Aurora Sexton

Drag performance is enjoying attention like never before. The hit television show RuPaul’s Drag Race has won nine Emmy Awards. New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand swung by Blazing Saddles, a Des Moines gay bar, while campaigning in Iowa, sharing lipstick tips and swapping dresses with a drag queen named Vana. Drag queen story times for children have become all the rage at public libraries, and not just in big cities, but places like Waterville, Maine, Greenville, South Carolina, and Evansville, Indiana. In some form or another drag has been a part of the performance scene here in Provincetown back to the days of vaudeville and grew alongside the LGBTQ community on the Cape tip. Sometimes people ask “Why all the drag?” That’s like going to New Orleans and asking “Why all the jazz?” Drag is firmly entwined in the culture of the town, which makes Provincetown one of the national capitals of the art form.

Bianca Del Rio

Just as songwriters flock to Nashville and actors to Hollywood, Provincetown has for decades attracted the best and the brightest drag stars, with 2019 promising to be a banner year for drag.
The Crown and Anchor is home to Illusions (now through October), Provincetown’s longest-running drag revue starring Billie Jean, Lakia Mondale, Roxy Pops, and Payton St. James, all showcasing a wide array of celebrity impersonations. Also at the Crown is the incomparable Dina Martina (May 31 – Sept. 15), one of the giants of Provincetown’s drag scene, the ingenious Ben DeLa Crème (June 27 – Sept. 2), who continually presents work that shows just how inventive drag can be, and the incredibly talented Liza Lott, who takes to the stage at the Crown in Minnelli: The Legend (May 25 – Sept. 1), a most welcome summer run from a queen finally taking the spotlight she so richly deserves. Go see why Bob Mackie called Thirsty Burlington the best Cher impersonator he’s ever seen as she presents The Cher Show (May 25 – Sept. 5), which she continually updates to keep up with the legendary pop culture icon. Hungry for more? Check out Drag Brunch on Sundays with Haley Star, Jacqueline Dimera, and LaDiva Jonz (June 23 – Sept. 1) as they perform in the Courtyard Bar at the Crown. Mona Mour does drag double duty as she presents The Mona Report with Mona Mour (June 24 – Sept. 2) every Monday and hosts Fagg*t Feud every Wednesday in this queer spin on Family Feud. And don’t forget Sisters in the Name of Love, the annual long-running drag fundraiser for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, which this year will be held at the Crown on June 11.

Cacophony Daniels

Long before lip synchs for your life and sashays away, Varla Jean Merman (June 21 – Sept. 6) established herself as America’s drag superstar. She returns to the Art House with her brand new show A Star Is Bored, titled as such because “after 25 years of giving over 75% of her best,” she’s tired. After delighting audiences in Puerto Vallarta all winter, Canadian sweetheart Miss Conception comes back for her second season at the Art House with TV Land (June 29 – Sept. 8), a smash up of sitcoms throughout the ages. The dragapella quartet The Kinsey Sicks hits the town (June 30 – Sept. 8) with Naked Drag Queens Singing, and the veritable whirlwind of talent and ingenuity Jinkx Monsoon returns (July 6 – Sept. 1) with Major Scales in Together Again, Again! Jinkx also joins Varla Jean and Liza Lott in The First Wives Fight Club (July 3 – Sept. 5), a drag theatrical spoof. The Art House moves to the big stage at Town Hall as it presents the loveably evil Bianca Del Rio (July 15), who is kicking off her world tour here, and comedy giant Bob the Drag Queen (August 11) with her new show Crazy Black Lady.

The Post Office Cabaret continues its storied drag legacy this summer as it invites back drag fashion icon Raja (July 3 – Sept. 8) and the delightfully bent Tammie Brown (June 20 – August 31). Former Miss Gay USofA Aurora Sexton, who made a savage debut last season with her Melania Trump show, returns (June 20 – July 21) with her evil queen themed drag puppet show Hexed. Sexton has distinguished herself as a boundlessly creative performer. She’s one to watch. Long the darling of the drag scene in Puerto Vallarta (which is beginning to rival Provincetown’s in size), the outrageous Mama Tits is finally making her Provincetown debut (July 24 – Sept. 8). You may remember Mama made news when she took on a group of anti-gay protestors at Seattle Pride proving she is right on and a standup drag queen, who stands at seven feet tall in heels.

Pilgrim House is definitely red-hot as it quickly reestablished itself as a performance space once the current owners took over a couple of years ago. The beloved and arguably top-selling drag queen on the scene Miss Richfield 1981 returns (May 25 – Sept. 13) with her new show Gender Fluids. Miss R is a master of not only stand-up, but at uniting a diverse audience through laughter. The fast-talking New York City girl Marti Gould Cummings comes to Pilgrim House (June 7 – Sept. 21) after making nationwide news when, by request from a toddler, she performed a number to “Baby Shark” at a drag brunch in Manhattan. One of the top Tupperware salespeople in the country (for real) Dixie Longate hits Provincetown (July 4 – 9) with those indestructible plastic products in her hilarious show that is a very real Tupperware party. In these fast-paced times, RuPaul’s Drag Race season seven cast member Mrs. Kasha Davis reminds us all that There’s Always Time For A Cocktail in her aptly named show (July 10-12). Vocal powerhouse Ada Vox wowed judges on American Idol and will make her Provincetown debut at Pilgrim House (August 7 – 9), as will Broadway baby Cacophany Daniels (August 14 –16). Rounding out this stellar line up is the beloved Latrice Royale (August 28 – 30) and storyteller extraordinaire and drag legend Coco Peru (Sept. 4 – 6).

What would summer in Provincetown be without Ryan Landry’s Showgirls, which returns to the Atlantic House (June 3 – Sept. 16) for another season of debauchery and madness. And what would Commercial Street be without Scarbie on her pink Schwinn as she brings her uplifting, feel-good show (May 25 – Sept. 14) back to the UU Meetinghouse. And in a special Carnival appearance, drag and country music star (yes, you read that right) Trixie Mattel takes to the stage at Town Hall the night before the parade (August 21) in a special show to benefit the Provincetown Business Guild.

Aimee Mann

This winter the town was abuzz when news broke that Lea DeLaria was taking over the Pied Bar and turning it into a supper jazz club, called appropriately enough The Club. Set to open on June 21, The Club will host a variety of performers, including a Fourth of July show with Rosie O’Donnell and dates to include folks like Melissa Errico and Kate McGarry. Every Tuesday The Club will feature Billy Hough with his musical show Cocksucker Blues. And of course DeLaria herself will perform regularly throughout the summer. Stay tuned for more from this exciting new venue in town.

Live music abounds in Provincetown, but perhaps the most popular are those occasions where everyone is invited to sing along. A legend and a beloved icon of Provincetown, Bobby Wetherbee returns to the Crown and Anchor. Go see why he’s a veritable Provincetown institution! He’s not alone in tickling the ivories, as the Crown also hosts afternoon piano music and song in the Dive Bar with Kevin Quill and Doug Repetti, who also plays up the hill on Carver Street at the Porchside Bar at the Gifford House. Across from Town Hall, Tin Pan Alley has become a musical hot spot with a revolving list of guests at the piano, including Jon Richardson, Todd Alsup, and Gerald Goode, who all also play the Crown, as well as Cassandra Marsh, Jim Brosseau, and Michael Ryan.

Branden & James

Billy Hough and Sue Goldberg return with Scream Along With Billy at the Grotta Bar where every Friday they cover a different iconic album in this night of music that is a Provincetown favorite. Speaking of favorites, Matt Alber returns (July 15 and 28) at the Crown and Anchor with a scruffy singer-songwriter set. The hilarious Tori Scott hits the Art House (July 3 and 29), showing why she’s the Bette Midler for the new millennium, followed by the violin and cello duo Branden & James (June 22 – 23), the pop rock band Betty (July 26 – 27), heartthrob Steve Grand with his concert show Top to Bottom (July 2 – Sept. 5), and a weeklong engagement with the singing string quartet Well-Strung (August 11 – 16). The Art House also continues its deep relationship with the best and brightest stars on Broadway bringing Gavin Creel (July 5 – 6), Jessie Mueller (July 12 – 13), Michael Cerveris (August 9 – 10), Liz Callaway (August 16 – 17), Faith Prince (August 25 – 26), Marilyn Maye (August 28 – Sept. 1), and a double shot of fabulous when they present Debra Messing and Kathy Najimy together at Town Hall (August 4).

Debra Messing

The Crown and Anchor presents its own star-studded musical series featuring Lucie Arnaz (July 22), Tony Award winner Lillias White (July 23), Yoli Mayor (July 24 – 25), twin tenors Will & Anthony (August 3 – 4), Linda Lavin (August 5 – 6), Lorna Luft (August 12), Linda Eder (August 26 – 27), John Lloyd Young (August 13), Australian neo-cabaret star Kim David Smith singing the songs of Kylie Minogue (August 14 – 15), The Boy Band Project, a throw back show celebrating the boy bands of the 1990s (August 19 – 25), and a special Carnival Week appearance by the multi-talented Todrick Hall at Town Hall (August 17).
Pilgrim House welcomes Suzanne Vega for a special solo acoustic set (August 5 – 6), NFL player turned singer Esera Tualo dons a wig for a comedic drag portion with his character Polylava in shows throughout the season (June 14 – Sept. 4), and coming back is the extra special Lee Squared, a musical comedy show tribute to Liberace and Peggy Lee (June 21 – Sept. 7).

For something completely new check out the Governor Bradford, which plays host to the Oversoul Theatre Collective presenting The Groovalottos and a weekly night of hip-hop jazz, funk, and soul (May 25 – Sept. 7), while over at the Crown and Anchor The BULIFE hosts the Be You Hip-Hop Showcase (June 27 )and Bart Weisman present the Jazz Festival with Jessica Curran and Henry Acker (August 15 – 19). The Great Music on Sundays @ 5 series continues this summer at the UU Meetinghouse (June 9 – Oct. 6) and the Sunset Concert Series at Herring Cove Beach kicks of in late June running until Labor Day weekend.

The tent is up out in North Truro, and the Payomet Performing Arts Center is ready for another summer of outdoor concerts featuring such acts as The English Beat (June 8), a special night with The Wailers (June 9), Aimee Mann (July 9), Bettye LaVette (July 13), Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn (July 30), and Blue Oyster Cult (August 23).

Margaret Cho
Photo: Albert Sanchez

One of the most common sounds that fills the air in Provincetown is the sound of laughter. Laughing is good for the spirit and the soul, it brings people together, and is scientifically proven to be good for your health. Lucky for Provincetown there is no shortage of masters of comedy coming to town this season. The Crown and Anchor is presenting Schmoozing with Fran Drescher at Town Hall (August 10), and Bill Blumenreich brings the political satire master Randy Rainbow to the big stage (July 27) as well in what will be a much-needed respite from our current national nightmare.

One of the absolute most hysterical acts to come to town is doing her first extended run in town as Pam Ann presents Buckle Up Bitches! at the Crown and Anchor (June 26 – July 27). The creation of Australian comedian Caroline Reid, Pam Ann entertains all over the world as a blistering flight attendant with her one-of-a-kind pre-flight instructions. Do not miss her! The Crown is also home to Julie Wheeler (May 25 & 27, June 27, and July 23), Leslie Jordan (July 8 – 9), Lisa Lampanelli (July 1 – 2), Sandra Bernhard (August 8 – 9), comedy shows Body by Taco Bell (July 2 – 11) and Ptown AF (July 23 – August 15), as well as a trip over to Town Hall for a night with the one and only Margaret Cho (July 13).

The Art House tickles the funny bone with stand-up comic Judy Gold (June 27 – August 30), the fantastic comedy trio of Unitard, featuring Mike Albo, David Ilku, and Nora Burns (August 9 – 10), and the simply fabulous Deven Green with Ned Douglas in their show The Human Jukebox (August 3 – 6). Pilgrim House features funny men Justin Sayre with There’s A Cream For That (July 15 – 16) and Daniel Franzese with YASS! You’re Amazing! (July 17 – 19), a Carnival Week one-night-only show with the hilarious Matteo Lane (August 15), as well as providing the summer home for IMPROVincetown, Ptown’s improv comedy troupe (Now through August 24).

Matteo Lane

True to form, there are shows each year that bring something completely different to Provincetown. All summer long Matt Farber and Le Farfadais, a French-based cirque company, present AirOtic, a sexy and sensual circus style show (June 28 – August 24). The gymnasium at the old Provincetown High School will be turned into a Cirque du Soleil style venue for this sophisticated, yet erotic performance with an LGBT focus. Also in the realm of eroticism, Troy David’s Male Call will present Enchanted, an all-male dance revue at the Post Office Cabaret (June 20 – Sept. 8) while during Bear Week at the Crown things get hairy with Bearlesque, an all bear burlesque show (July 15 – 17). For more traditional dance performance, check out the Provincetown Dance Festival at the Provincetown Theater (June 21 – 22) and the Cape Dance Festival at the amphitheater at the Province Lands Visitor’s Center (July 27).

Each summer Provincetown hosts a variety of special events starting with Womxn of Color Weekend (May 30 – June 2)and, for the first time ever, a Men of Color Weekend (June 21 – 23), the former being “an annual 4-day Pride designed to elevate, strengthen, educate and celebrate LGBTQIA women of color, non-binary and gender-fluid people of color, and their allies,” and the latter produced by Boston Men of Melanin Magic and presented “in the spirit of AfroPunk” professing the same ethos: “No Sexism, No Racism, No Ageism, No Homophobia, No Fatphobia, No Transphobia, No Hatefulness.”

Provincetown Pride (May 31 – June 2) once again presents the stunning art installation Global Rainbow by Yvette Mattern in which a laser rainbow is projected across the sky over the town. The Provincetown International Film Festival honors John Cameron Mitchell and Jillian Bell along with screenings of feature films, documentaries, and shorts from all over the world (June 12 – 16). The Provincetown Portuguese Festival (June 27 – 30) honors this important component of the town’s immigrant heritage with concerts, food, and of course the annual Blessing of the Fleet. Bear Week (July 13 – 21) and Girl Splash (July 23 – 27) both heat up midsummer, while Family Week celebrates LGBTQ families. And then there is of course Provincetown’s signature event, Carnival (August 15 – 24) with this year’s theme of Enchanted Forest. Adding to the festivities, Carnival Week kicks off with the arrival of the cruise ship Celebrity Summit when the LGBT vacation company VACAYA’s first ever Provincetown cruise arrives for an overnight visit to start the party.

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Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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