Close this search box.

well established and here for you

independently owned and operated since 1977

Opening Day

Summer Season Begins as Pandemic Protocols End

by Steve Desroches

Top Image:  Left to right: Kelli O’Hara (Photo: Laura Marie Duncan), Dina Martina (Photo: David Belisle), Matteo Lane, Lillias White, Ginger Minj, and Alaska Thunderf*ck (Photo: Austin Young)

When Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that all COVID-19 pandemic protocols would be lifted come May 29 phones around Provincetown began to ring and ding. When does tea dance start? What about the Carnival parade? Will Miss Richfield 1981 still be changing costumes outside behind a dumpster near a family of angry raccoons? The questions from near and far flooded the town, which like many, was taken aback as planning had previously been focused around the initial August 1 date given by the governor. But the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend?! The energy shift in town was palpable as Provincetown immediately began preparing for what was already talked about as a packed summer based on the record-breaking advanced reservations, now reaching as late as Halloween. But fear not. Provincetown is nothing if not resilient, adaptable, and fun-loving even in the most challenging of times. And this summer will be one to remember, as many predict this may be the start of the Roaring Twenties, Part II.

Alaska Thunderf*ck Photo: Austin Young

Each Memorial Day weekend Provincetown Magazine offers a summer season preview. And this year it was a moving target as nightclubs, entertainment venues, and organizations throughout town reveled in the long-awaited news that they can all operate at 100 percent capacity, but bumped into the reality that, as one cabaret manager put it, “it’s easy to close a business, but not as easy to open one back up!” So as we all head into this reawakened summer, the buzzwords for the season should be patience, kindness, joy, and gratitude, as well as a renewed appreciation for this little, wonderful spit of sand way out in the North Atlantic.

Melissa Ferrick

Even though it’s only May, many people want to know about Carnival, the town’s signature event that celebrates Provincetown’s LGBTQ+ history and culture as well as the town’s reputation as a place that embraces the outsider. Several weeks ago the Provincetown Select Board refused to approve permits for the annual parade that takes months of planning as well as a large army of volunteers to pull off. But the reality is thousands are still going to come anyway for the late summer bacchanalia, set this year for August 15–21.

“At a minimum the day will be like Halloween, where people will show up in costume and parade up and down the street in an organic kind of an event,” said Provincetown Business Guild executive director Bob Sanborn. “That’s just a reality. That kind of thing doesn’t require approval. What we will explore and plan to ask for is to close the street, and while it wouldn’t be for the traditional parade, we’d put on something like the Folsom Street Fair [in San Francisco], a street festival. Perhaps with stationary floats up and down Commercial Street.  As for the week, it will be about 80 to 90 percent normal Carnival and the plan for 2022 is to bring back Carnival as everyone has always known it.”

Lillias White

So everyone should get started preparing costumes for the “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” theme as well as thinking of themes for Carnival 2022 (suggestions may be sent to [email protected]). As for the copious amounts of the other theme weeks and events that dot Provincetown’s calendar, breaking news is that most are coming back in some form, starting with Provincetown Pride, June 4 to 6 with the Boatslip’s iconic weekly Tea Dance starting up again on June 3. Pride will also see the venues like the Crown and Anchor, the Atlantic House, the Pilgrim House, the Porch Bar, and more begin to transition away from social distancing and Plexiglas barriers, to the beloved hot spots they’ve always been.

Todd Alsup

Other events like Womxn of Color Weekend (June 4–6), Men of Color Weekend (June 17–20), the Provincetown International Film Festival (June 16–25), CabaretFest (June 23–27), the Provincetown Portuguese Festival (June 24–27), Independence Week (July 2–7), Bear Week (July 10–18), GirlSplash (July 21–24), Family Week (July 24–31), are all set in one fashion or another as everyone pivots (the word of the moment) to adjust to our new reality. Announcements about DJs, new shows and events, and shifts away from virtual to in-person events are all forthcoming, and you can of course check Provincetown Magazine weekly for the latest in what’s happening on the Outer Cape. However we do know, when it comes to the Provincetown International Film Festival, which is planning a hybrid model this year, the Filmmaker on the Edge Award will be given to Richard Linklater, director of classics like Dazed and Confused, Slacker, and Boyhood with other festival awards going to actors Riz Ahmed (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Sound of Metal) and Natalie Morales (Language Lessons).

Kelli O’Hara Photo: Laura Marie Duncan

As the Birthplace of American Theater, the lifting of the pandemic protocols cannot come too soon, as virtual presentations are no substitute for the magic of live theater, not to mention the ticket revenue that keeps the stages lit in the first place. However, prior to the governor’s declaration the Provincetown licensing board wisely approved an outdoor performance space for the Provincetown Theater, being built as we speak in the Bradford Street theater’s parking lot. They’ll kick of their 2021 season with a production of Neptune (June 13, 17–19), a  joyous and moving exploration of being Black and gay in America today, written and performed by Timothy DuWhite and directed by Zhailon Levingston. That’s followed by The Cake (June 28–July 22), a romantic comedy about a North Carolina baker confronting a crisis of faith written by Bekah Brunstetter and directed by David Drake. And closing the summer season is Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (August 2–September 2).

Steve Grand

Approaching almost a decade in Provincetown, the Peregrine Theatre Ensemble, known for bringing young and fresh talent to town in lush musicals, is currently raising funds to stage performances in 2021, and announcements will be forthcoming. And the beloved Gold Dust Orphans, the wild and hilarious theater troupe led by playwright and actor Ryan Landry, will not have a summer production, but Landry will be holding court with the Provincetown tradition Showgirls, which begins June 7 in the Art House parking lot, with plans to move indoors come July.

Deven Green and Handsome Ned

Up Route 6 into Wellfleet, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT) turns the lights on with Shipwrecked! (June 30–July 25) by Donald Margulies, a tale about exploring the high seas in the nineteenth century, followed by Nat Turner in Jerusalem (August 11–September 5) by Nathan Alan Davis, an imagining of Turner’s final night in prison after leading a revolt of enslaved people in Virginia. WHAT for Kids returns with The Tale of Ibis (July 5–August 12) by Jody O’Neil, based on a true story about a curious humpback whale calf found entangled in Provincetown Harbor in 1984. And over at the always compelling Harbor Stage Company the troupe of actors will present a July production of Stand Up If You’re Here Tonight, a new play by John Kolvenbach and an August run of Dindin by Brenda Withers, which will also be adapted for a new film to be released this coming winter.

Ginger Minj

As much as Provincetown is famous for its theatrical legacy, its entertainment history is just as storied and revered with everything from cabaret to comedy to drag to the indefinable. A hallmark of Provincetown is the tight-knit community, and the town is at its best when it works together. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. But that’s only true when everyone has a boat. So in the spirit of cooperation rather than competition the Pilgrim House and the Post Office Café and Cabaret are working together. The latter venue recently sold to Jack Kelly and Paul Melanson, the couple that turned Tin Pan Alley into a musical sensation, and won’t open until July 1 (unless renovations are done sooner). At that time they plan to present a drag revue hosted by Anita Cocktail with a revolving cast of guest stars as well as musical stylings by Debby Holiday, Seth Sikes, Mary Callanan, Mike Ryan, and Daniel LeClaire and comedic shows with Suzanne Westenhoefer, Karen Rontowski, and Del Shores, the filmmaker behind the cult classic Sordid Lives. In the meantime, look for some of these acts to make appearances at the Pilgrim House. The Post Office Café is preparing a “changeover brunch” each Saturday hosted by Anita Cocktail in what will surely be a sassy way to start your day whether you’re just arriving in town and waiting to check into your accommodations or your vacation is over and you want one last hurrah.

Donnelly & Richardson – Photo: Greg Salvatori

The Pilgrim House has its own impressive slate of diverse performers and is happy to announce that the riotous Miss Richfield 1981 (May 29 – September 18) is returning with her new show 40 Years on the Throne, as is the “showbiz spitfire” Paige Turner (May 29 – September 18) with her show Joyride, a sparkly, uplifting rollick with all-live vocals. Canada’s best export, Miss Conception (June 11 – August 8) returns to Provincetown (now that the border will be opening soon) to present her party a la drag show extravaganza, full of a ridiculous amount of costume changes and audience interaction. The Tupperware drag diva Dixie Longate (July 2–7) ditches the plastic bowls for cowboy boots and a guitar with her show Sh*tkicker. The steamy Steve Grand presents his new concert Straight Outta Quarantine (July 10–20), Provincetown legend Sharon McNight (July 31–August 3) performs a night of stories and songs, and Cacophony Daniels presents Drag Dad (July 24–27) about what it’s like to balance fatherhood in high heels and false eyelashes. The absolutely hilarious Matteo Lane (August 7–9) sweeps into town with his cannot-be-missed stand-up show, and drag dance superstar Edie returns to Provincetown with Las Vegas Showgirl: Unleashed! (August 14–24) with high kicks and a little Sin City sparkle. The cavalcade of drag continues with Sutton Lee Seymour in Booby Tunes (August 28–September 1) and The Golden Gays NYC in Hot Flashbacks: A Golden Girls Musical Adventure (August 30–31). All summer long Zoe Lewis makes appearances with a variety of special guests, including David Maiocco as Liberace (July 4), indie pop artist Bitch (July 18), Petit Speakeasies (August 1 and 29), and with Qya Cristal (August 22). And come Labor Day Weekend the husband and husband musical duo Branden & James present Broadway Under the Covers (September 5–9).

Timothy DuWhite

Forced to close completely last summer the Art House is roaring back June 25, focusing largely on the best and brightest of Broadway, the genre that put the venue on the map a decade ago. With many shows hosted by Seth Rudetsky the Art House welcomes Sierra Boggess (July 2–3), Jenn Colella (July 23–24), Rachel Bay Jones (July 31–August 1), Liz Callaway (August 13–14), Susie Mosher (August 21), Lillias White (August 27–28), Beth Malone (August 30), and Christine Pedi (September 11) as well as spilling over into Provincetown Town Hall with shows by Kristin Chenoweth (August 8), Kelli O’Hara (August 15), Stephanie J. Block (August 22), and Beth Leavel (September 5). Other musical acts include Melissa Ferrick (July 22), the comedy duo Deven Green & Handsome Ned (August 6–7), John Hill (August 24), Nicholas King (August 26), and the legendary Marilyn Maye (August 31–September 11).  The laughter we all need right now comes just in time with Judy Gold (June 25–September 1) and the always fabulous Tori Scott (July 9–10), the comedy trio Unitard (August 10 and 12), and Ben Rimalower’s one-man-show Broken Records: The Albums You Wouldn’t Shut Up About (August 23). And last but not least the Art House presents its drag offerings: making her Provincetown debut is RuPaul’s Drag Race star and champion Alaska Thunderf*ck (July 11) at Town Hall; followed by Steven Brinberg in Simply Barbra (July 15–17), a like-butter impersonation show of Ms. Barbra Joan Streisand; and RuPaul’s Drag Race star Ginger Minj (August 4 – September 11).


Last summer the Crown and Anchor transformed their poolside space into a gorgeous outdoor entertainment venue, something that hopefully can remain a permanent fixture, as there’s nothing quite like seeing a show under the stars. And at the moment it will continue with a robust roster of great acts, starting with the demented drag darling Dina Martina with Chariots of Failure (June 3 – September 5) and the high-energy, camptastic Illusions drag revue starring Lakia Mondale, Billie Jean, and Roxy Pops (now through September 6). Musically, the Crown and Anchor continues to thrill with Todd Alsup and Jon Richardson in their encore run of their hit show Elton & Billy Greatest Hits Live (June 4–September 6), and Richardson also appears in Broadway on the Beach with Jonathan Hawkins (June 5–September 5) and Donnelly & Richardson Sing Dolly Parton (June 11–September 3) with Peter Donnelly.

Qya Cristal

It’s a veritable drag-a-palooza all summer long at the Crown with Divas by the Sea brunch every Sunday (now through September 5), Thirsty Burlington’s One Night Only with Cher (June 14–September 6), drag superstar Varla Jean Merman with Little Prick (June 15–September 11), and a special appearance by New York City drag politician Marti Gould Cummings with Bawdy by the Bay (July 28-29). Dotting the Crown and Anchor’s bill this season are Christina Bianco with Crowd Control (June 29 – July 1), a wild night of music, impressions, and comedy; violinist Edmund Bagnell with Happy Days Are Here Again (July 6 – August 31); a Bear Week appearance by Matthew Darren (July 8 and July 15); one night only with Anne Steele (July 22) for GirlSplash; Broadway star Melissa Errico (August 4–5); a 20th anniversary production of Naked Boys Singing (August 11–12); the 1990s flashback show The Boy Band Project (August 18–19); and Marieann Meringolo with Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: The Songs of Alan and Marilyn Bergman (September 1–2).

Music options abound on the Outer Cape with the Payomet Performing Arts Center in North Truro as they shift from the pandemic drive-in model back to the tent. The list keeps growing with announcements of bookings of Alexis S. Suter Band (June 5), Ana Popovic (July 4), Martin Sexton (July 16), Joe Louis Walker (July 17), Asleep at the Wheel (July 23), Aoife O’Donovan Trio (July 24), Adam Ezra Group (August 13), and Rhiannon Giddens featuring Francesco Turrisi (September 3). Keep checking Provincetown Magazine as Payomet continues to fill out their 2021 season.

Zoe Lewis

Shifting from the seaside scenery of the cliffs of North Truro to Commercial Street Lea Delaria’s jazz hot spot The Club celebrates summer with Michael Flanegan and his band each Monday, Qya Cristal with the Bart Weisman Trio every Tuesday with the latter also performing each Wednesday, and DJ Rodd Hott every Thursday with the Remember the Pied Circa 1980 What Dance Party.

It’s been a long, long year, one of anxiety, tension, and sometimes great sadness. But brighter days are here. And with all the fabulous fun listed here, the most important ingredient is you. What we all bring to Provincetown makes it so special. That’s why it’s vital we treat each other with compassion, understanding, and kindness more than ever. In a world that feels like it’s gone mad, Provincetown can once again show the world how people from all over can assemble and bring out the best in each other. So as we shake off the cobwebs and dust and bounce back, have fun, but remember to be gentle as it will take some time for the anxiety to recede. Make a commitment to justice, equality, and inclusion in all you do, and spread nothing but joy this summer.





Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

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

Keep in touch

Fill in your details and I will get back to you in no time.

Phone: + 1 508-487-1000 ext 6
[email protected] 14 Center St. Provincetown MA, 02657