“The Normal Heart” is Not Your Normal Play

With Ebola on everyone’s minds right now, it’s good to remember that AIDS, which is a relative of Ebola, has been in America far longer and has killed far more people. It’s kind of an uncanny coincidence, then, that the Off Center Theater in Crown Center, is currently running “The Normal Heart”.
“The Normal Heart” is a riveting, passionate look at the very beginning of the AIDS crisis in America – before anyone even knew what it was. It’s also basically an autobiographical story of the playwright and activist Larry Kramer.
It’s about a man named Ned (played here by TJ Lancaster) who is alarmed that his friends are starting to die more quickly than they should, and with the same symptoms. He meets a doctor, Emma Brookner (played by Vanessa Davis), who is in the middle of the dying men, and is desperate to figure out what’s going on. They try to get the word about the virus out to the wider gay community – with almost no results.
What makes this play so powerful is that it’s not just a history of AIDS. It’s an enraged, brutally honest look at how everyone was ignoring the rise of this disease – all for different reasons. Nobody escapes the blame for the epidemic that is almost considered normal today. Gay, straight, religious, or political; no angle of the disease is left unexamined. Nobody gets off the hook.
It’s an ambitious play because it is so emotional and demands such commitment from the actors. For a small theater company like Off Center Theatre, it could be hard to attract a cast of actors capable of pulling this off. But they did. All the actors commit themselves to their characters with a ferocity that I rarely see on a stage. More than one audience member left the theater crying – myself included.
The stage setting is brilliantly understated. Mostly black and white, the most noticeable thing about it is the big wall full of black marks. When a character in the play dies, he adds his own mark to the wall. It’s a silent slap in the face, a voiceless reminder that there are people behind the statistics.
This is an important play. It’s a mixture of science, politics, guilt, fear, and the human relationships that are formed and destroyed in the middle of it all. It’s a shame that this production lies lurking on the third floor of Crown Center – it deserves a more prominent place of production.
If you are interested in human rights, history, social justice, love, or the intersection of the human mind with a mindless, mysterious killer, you must see this play.
The Normal Heart performances are at 8 p.m. on October 13,16,17 and 18 at the Off Center Theatre in Crown Center, 2450 Grand Avenue, Kansas City, Mo. Tickets can be purchased at the box office by calling (816) 545-6000 or at: Tickets.


Photo courtesy of Jose Cuervo

2023 Reserva de la Familia Limited Edition Terceerunquinto

On January 10, 2023, Reserva de la Familia, Jose Cuervo’s ultra-premium collection of artisanal small-batch tequilas and Mexico’s crown jewel, announced its 2023 collector’s box, designed by artists Rolando Flores and Gabriel Cázares of the Mexico-based Tercerunquinto Collective. The piece of custom art, titled “Structuring a Landscape”, features a geometric abstraction of the landscape of Tequila, Mexico and will adorn the 2023 limited-release collector’s box of Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo.

Since 1995, Jose Cuervo has worked with internationally recognized artists with roots in Mexico to design the box artwork for Reserva de la Familia Extra Añejo. Each box is an authentic collector’s item, with a limited quantity produced annually before a new artist is chosen. Previous artists include Gonzalo Lebrija, Pedro Friedeberg, Carlos Aguirre, Ricardo Pinto and many more. Every artist is selected by a team of art curators including 11th generation Cuervo family member and CEO of Jose Cuervo, Juan Domingo Beckmann, Executive Director of El Museo del Barrio in New York City, Patrick Charpenel and founder of Zona Maco, Mexico’s number one art fair, Zélika García.

Keep reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Velvet Ibiza

Velvet Ibiza

Every year, Ibiza is home to Europe’s very epic queer woman’s party, Velvet Ibiza, which is celebrating its 7th anniversary and promises to be next level. Velvet Ibiza is an all-inclusive 5-day and 5-night party and includes transportation from the airport, a bungalow, 3 meals, and activities and parties day and night, and drinks until around 10:30 pm.

This year, international crowds of LGBTQ+ women will be attending Velvet Ibiza on May 2 - 7 to celebrate life, belonging, and freedom. Event organizers have rented an entire resort in order to build a community vibe and allow queer women to connect so there’s no reason to go anywhere unless of course, you want to go shopping, head to the beach, or explore the island.

Keep reading Show less

Financial Planning for the LGBTQ+ community

The new year has arrived. For many people, that means making resolutions and thinking of ways they can do better in the coming year and beyond. Money management and financial planning are often very popular resolutions and goals, but most financial advice tends to be aimed at heterosexual couples who want to grow their family and raise children.

But, what if your life goals are different? What if you don’t receive the same protection under the current laws as hetero couples?
What if you don’t want to have kids?

Keep reading Show less