(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- In partnership with North Jersey Pride, the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) presents its inaugural SOPAC Pride Weekend on Friday, June 9 – Saturday, June 11, celebrating SOMA’s robust LGBTQIA+ community. The weekend exclusively features LGBTQIA+ artists, including TikTok comic sensation Jessica Kirson, “far-ranging sonic nomad” (Chicago Tribune) singer-songwriter AKENYA, and DJ Ryan The Person.
“As Executive Director of SOPAC and an out and proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community myself, I’m proud to be part of this movement and this moment,” Stephen Beaudoin said. “At SOPAC, we want Pride to be radically joyful, thoughtfully inclusive, and always oriented in the direction of community, celebration, and love. Our first ever SOPAC Pride Weekend signals the beginning of our ever-expansive commitment to community, creativity, and connection.”
Tickets for Pride Weekend events are available for purchase online.
Stand-up comedian and South Orange native Jessica Kirson kicks off Pride Weekend on Friday, June 9 at 8:00pm. Racking up over 50 million views on social media, Kirson’s vulnerability and silly characters brought her wide appeal to a multigenerational audience. Kirson was awarded “Best Female Comic” by the MAC association in New York City and received 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.
The weekend continues with The Night Before Pride Party at SOPAC on Saturday, June 10, featuring singer-songwriter AKENYA in her New Jersey debut, and DJ Ryan The Person. A Chicago native, AKENYA has collaborated with some of the top artists from the city, including Smino, Saba, and Chance the Rapper. Her music is a distinct blend of jazz, hip-hop, soul, pop, classical and world music.
SOPAC Pride Weekend concludes with a Tony Awards Viewing Party on Sunday, June 11. SOPAC invites all Broadway lovers to don their red carpet best and experience the 76th Annual Tony Awards on SOPAC’s Mainstage. This event is free (with a suggested donation of $15), and friends and supporters of North Jersey Pride receive exclusive early access to tickets.
"We’re thrilled to partner with SOPAC for this special Pride weekend,” North Jersey Pride Executive Director CJ Prince said. “SOPAC is demonstrating its commitment to providing safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ artists and performers to tell their stories, while also creating opportunities for engagement, dialogue and education around LGBTQIA+ inclusion and equality. It’s so critical for our LGBTQIA+ youth to be able to see themselves on stage and to know that community organizations like SOPAC support them—this Pride weekend lets them know they are seen and celebrated.”
SOPAC Pride Weekend events:
Friday, June 9 at 8:00pm - Jessica Kirson; SOPAC Mainstage. Stand-up comedian and South Orange native Jessica Kirson is a powerhouse on stage! Winning the coveted Nightlight Award for “Best Stand Up Comedian” in New York City, she’s a hilariously relatable performer of sheer silliness, vulnerability, and ridiculous characters. Don’t miss your chance to laugh the night away with Kirson as part of SOPAC’s first ever LGBTQIA+ Pride weekend! TICKETS: Start at $27, available here.
Saturday, June 10 at 9:00pm – 2:00am - The Night Before Pride Party with Akenya and DJ Ryan The Person; SOPAC Loft. Let’s get this party started! Join us in the Loft at SOPAC at 9:00pm for a special performance from R&B artist AKENYA, followed by a fabulous night of great music provided by DJ Ryan The Person, starting at 10:00pm. Ring in the start of North Jersey Pride’s Festival in style. Grab your friends, throw on your rainbow gear, and dance the night away. The first 75 tickets receive a complimentary beverage. (Cash bar for all other beverages.) TICKETS: $30, first 75 tickets sold include a complimentary beverage, available here.
Sunday, June 11 at 7:00pm - Tony Awards Viewing Party; SOPAC Mainstage. From dazzling performances from the 2022-2023 nominees to moving acceptance speeches, the Tony Awards is every theater kid's (and adult's!) Super Bowl. SOPAC hosts a 76th Annual Tony Awards watch party on their state-of-the-art full stage projector in a 439-seat theater. There will be many photo ops, including a special Pride backdrop. Enter your award predictions to win an exclusive prize. During the commercial breaks, enjoy Broadway trivia games, karaoke, and so much more with the soon to be announced host(s). Friends and supporters of North Jersey Pride receive exclusive early access to tickets, so act fast and secure your seats today! TICKETS: Free, suggested donation of $15. Further information found here.
South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, New Jersey.