SOPAC and North Jersey Pride Present 2024 Pride Programming Throughout June

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From the South Orange Performing Arts Center:

In partnership with North Jersey Pride, the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) presents its second annual celebration of the robust and vibrant LGBTQIA+ community, in and around South Orange and Maplewood with comedians, drag queens, GRAMMY-nominated talent, and more. From a hilarious performance from stand-up comedian and South Orange native Jessica Kirson to Drag Me to Oz, A Wizard of Oz-themed Drag Show, SOPAC has something for everyone during the month of June. 

“We are thrilled to announce SOPAC’s second year of partnering with North Jersey Pride for our annual Pride Celebration, said Lana Rogachevskaya. We are proud to collaborate for a month-long celebration, featuring six vibrant events throughout June. Building on the success of last year, we are excited to present an expanded and artfully curated mix of programming. This year’s events are driven by the thoughtful leadership of Matt Luminello and Dan Stankus. I cannot wait to hold space with the LGBTQ+ community, neighbors, and friends. This is the time to reflect, rejoice, and celebrate together.”

 “North Jersey Pride is thrilled to partner with SOPAC for the second year in a row. SOPAC’s commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, as evident by the robust roster of dedicated Pride programming all throughout the month of June, is to be greatly admired” said North Jersey Pride Executive Director C.J. Prince.  “In these divided times, it is the arts that connects our shared humanity and authentic expression. We are looking forward to seeing everyone at SOPAC whether it’s for What Matters Now?, Jessica Kirson, The Tony Awards Viewing Party, or Drag me to Oz! It’s going to be a fabulous month. “

American singer-songwriter and producer Paula Cole’s June 1 show at SOPAC will feature a mix of songs from the singer-songwriter’s multi-decade career, including hits from her latest album, Lo. Cole released her first album Harbinger after gaining attention for her performances as the vocalist on Peter Gabriel’s Secret World Tour in the early 90s.  Her second album This Fire increased her celebrity with hit songs “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don’t Want to Wait,” which later served as the opening theme for the television series Dawson’s Creek. Cole won a GRAMMY Award for “Best New Artist” in 1998 and became the first woman to be nominated for “Producer of the Year” that same year. 

On June 3, local drag queen Harmonica Sunbeam will join prominent leaders of the local LGBTQIA+ community for a conversation on the importance of Pride, personally and politically. Panelists include: Dean Dafis, Mayor of Maplewood; J.P. Pedoto, LSW Program Coordinator of Pride+; C.J. Prince, Executive Director of North Jersey Pride; Beatrice Simpkins, Executive Director of Newark Pride Center; Kevin E. Taylor, Pastor; and Gary Paul Wright, Founder and Executive Director of African American Office of Gay Concerns.

The community of North Jersey will come together on June 9 at Memorial Park for a free family-friendly day of celebration, music and community for LGBTQ and ally attendees. 

SOPAC hosts its second-annual Tony Awards Viewing Party on June 16. Co-hosted by SOPAC’s own Matt Luminello and Alicia Whavers, the event includes a special pre-show Tony’s warmup before the CBS Broadcast on SOPAC’s state-of-the-art full stage projector. During the commercial breaks, audiences will enjoy Broadway trivia games, karaoke, and much more.

Following her sold-out show last year, stand-up comedian Jessica Kirson returns to SOPAC June 22 for a performance showcasing her hilariously relatable performance of silliness, vulnerability and ridiculous characters. The South Orange native has racked up over 50 million views on social media and was awarded “Best Female Comic” by the MAC association in New York City, along with the prestigious Nightlife Award for “Best Stand-up Comedian.” In her spare time, Kirson is a regular contributor to The Howard Stern Show, where she produces and stars in prank calls. 

Following the sold-out success of its first drag show in 2023, SOPAC is coming in like a tornado with Drag Me to Ozon June 29. Dorothy and her drag friends are leaving Kansas and following the yellow brick road to SOPAC’s loft for a fabulous show celebrating one of the most beloved movies of all time. Audience members are invited to dress up and prizes will be awarded for best costume.

June 2024 Pride Events:

DATE: Saturday, June 1 at 8PM
TICKETS: Start at $38 and are available here
Grammy-nominated Paula Cole returns to SOPAC with her latest record Lo. Paula Cole’s eleventh studio album, Lo is devastatingly personal and utterly gorgeous. Her first album of original compositions in five years, Lo’s eleven songs, written entirely by Cole, navigate her opening to trust again after indelible blows of life. As the first woman to ever be nominated for the Best Producer Grammy in her own right, Paula Cole returns to the helm of recording as sole producer,

DATE: Monday, June 3 at 7PM
TICKETS: FREE but you must register here
Kickoff Pride month with a lively discussion on all things pride, moderated by local Drag favorite, Harmonica Sunbean! Prominent leaders of our local LGBTQIA+ community will engage in a discussion on all things Pride from what Pride means to them personally, to politics, advocacy, health and more

DATE: Sunday, June 9 ALL DAY
LOCATION: Memorial Park
Join SOPAC Staff, Board, and community members at Memorial Park for a day of community fun, music, and more celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community in South Orange-Maplewood (SOMA). There will be chances to win tickets to an upcoming SOPAC-presented show and so much more happening at the festival!  SOPAC is proud to be the Platinum Sponsor of the 2024 North Jersey Pride Festival.

DATE: Sunday, June 16 at 7PM
TICKETS: $10 suggested donation
Get your crew together and come to SOPAC to view the 77th Annual Tony Awards on our state-of-the-art full stage projector on the SOPAC Mainstage!  Come as you are, show off your style in your red carpet best, or cosplay as your favorite Broadway character.  At 7:00, join your cohosts, SOPAC’s own Matt Luminello and Alicia Whavers for a special preshow/ Tony’s warmup, as we countdown to the CBS Broadcast with singalongs (Seasons of Love anyone?), dancing in the aisles, and so much more!

DATE: Saturday, June 22 at 7PM
TICKETS: Start at $38 and are available here
Comedian Jessica Kirson is back!  After headlining SOPAC’s inaugural Pride Weekend in 2023, Kirson is bringing her hilariously relatable silliness and vulnerability back for SOPAC’s month of Pride Programming this June!  Don’t miss this powerhouse comedian. 

DRAG ME TO OZ – A Wizard of Oz-themed Drag Show
DATE: Saturday, June 29 at 8PM
TICKETS: $30 and available here
It’s drag queens with an OZ-some Twist! Click your heels three times and follow the yellow brick road to SOPAC! Grab your friends (of Dorothy) and don your ruby slippers as we celebrate one of the most beloved movies of all time, with a fabulous drag show. Arrive in your Ozian best as SOPAC will be awarding a prize for best costumes. Come out, come out, wherever you are for an ozmopolitan night out!

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