Key West residents have always wholeheartedly embraced our local performing arts community. Even during a pandemic, we’re finding unique ways to safely support the beloved Florida Keys theaters.

Key West Theater

The popular Key West Theater is the venue for the 2021 “Pride Follies” entertainment extravaganza.

The type of performances held at each venue run the gamut from top-tier virtual concerts in genres ranging from classical to rock to theatrical productions and comedy and variety specials — many of them locally produced but now with reduced audience sizes and strict safety protocols in place. And some local theaters have found success with virtual or radio play presentations.

Historically the “Pride Follies” takes place in late May as a prelude to our June Key West Pride celebrations. However, because of the coronavirus crisis, last year’s show had to be canceled (as did a rescheduled show planned for November). But I’m thrilled to say it has returned for 2021 and will be bigger and better than ever.

“Pride Follies” will be presented by, and benefit, the Key West Business Guild, which is celebrating its 43rd year of promoting gay and lesbian tourism to Key West. The renowned not-for-profit guild also produces several annual signature events that support area businesses and attract visitors worldwide. They include Key West Pride, Tropical Heat, Key West Womenfest and the Headdress Ball — providing LGBTQ visitors something special to enjoy year-round.

The guild also operates the Gay Key West Visitor Center at 808 Duval St. Walk-in guests can expect a warm “One Human Family” welcome and an informative introduction to the island and its events, local businesses and area attractions. (I definitely think it should be your first stop in Key West if you’re a “newbie” to the island — or just need a refresher.)

The late-May production’s format is similar to an old-fashioned vaudeville-type show with a wide array of local talent to entertain audiences. The performance will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at the Key West Theater at 512 Eaton St. The historic theater dates back to 1848 when it was built as the First Baptist Church of Key West. After various incarnations, including concert and dance venues, the site was transformed into a fantastic performing arts center in the island’s historically rich Old Town.

The dynamic “Pride Follies” variety show will be  directed and emceed by vocalist (and 2017 Fantasy Fest Queen) Destiny Montgomery.

“Pride Follies” mirrors the old theme of Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town,” and showcases our exceptionally skilled resident performers. The variety show is infamous for having the best of our local performing arts community (and sometimes the ones that I hope aren’t giving up their day jobs!). Don’t get me wrong — Key Westers love to attend professional performances, but also can’t resist a bit of humor and camp to mix it up a bit.

The “Follies” will be directed and emceed by 2017 Fantasy Fest Queen Destiny Montgomery this year, with socially distanced seating and masks enforced when audience members aren’t seated. You can always expect Destiny to deliver an incredibly dynamic variety show while raising money for a local charity. Acts are likely to range from vocals to dancing programs — maybe with a saucy burlesque performance to pique your imaginative senses (please note that attendees must be age 21 or older).

The doors open at 7 p.m., providing plenty of time to mingle (social distanced, please) before the 8 p.m. performance. The Key West Theater offers full bar service and seating both downstairs and on an upper mezzanine. Although the venue will provide bar and waiter service during the performance, you may want to grab a nosh prior to the show at any of the fabulous restaurants within walking distance of the theater.

Tickets range from $15 per person to $35 per person for premium balcony seating and can be purchased online or at the theater box office Wednesday and Friday from noon to 6 p.m. (5 p.m. on show days). Any tickets previously purchased for the canceled November 2020 performance will be honored for the May 2021 show.

So why not get out and show your Pride this May (with your protective mask, of course) by attending the “Pride Follies” enticing evening of entertainment? You’ll surely discover why Key Westers are so PROUD, not just in June but in any month of the year — especially when it comes to enjoying our island’s stellar performing arts community.

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