Recent Comments


    Trailblazing Trans TV Actor/Activist Shakina On Stage in the Bay Area for Special Benefit Performance

    Photo by Marques Walls

    On Friday, August 18, Shakina will be taking the stage during TheatreWorks’ 20th Anniversary New Works Festival, sharing a night of transcendent tunes, followed by a dazzling dance party. At this one-night-only benefit performance, the trailblazing trans activist and powerhouse performer will offer a sneak peek at the future of musical theatre, debuting songs from her new musical Five & Dime and insight into her creative process.

    Shakina is the creative force behind bold new work, including her hilarious turn as trans truther Lola in Hulu’s Difficult People; writing, directing, and appearing in NBC’s Quantum Leap; and guest-starring in the musical finale of Amazon’s Transparent (which she also helped write and direct). She’s gained acclaim in the theatre world with her solo show Manifest Pussy and as a Founding Artistic Director of New York’s Musical Theatre Factory, where she developed shows including the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop.

    She also made history as the first trans person to have a starring role on a major network comedy show with NBC’s Connecting …, which chronicled life during lockdown. “I had been working on TV for six years or so, and I knew Series Regular was the ultimate goal,” Shakina shared with the San Francisco Bay Times. “I just didn’t imagine that it would be a show I had to shoot by myself, from home, during a global pandemic. All the pomp and circumstance of being a cultural groundbreaker was overshadowed by the greater, collective task we all felt making that series. The cast had a sense of shared responsibility to be a time capsule of the moment, and to speak truth to power. I’m so proud of what we created.”

    She’s now adapting the play (and film) Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean into the new musical 5 & Dime. Shakina collaborates with Dan G. Sells (Brokeback Mountain, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) and Ashley Robinson (Brokeback Mountain, Fall of ’94) to offer a new take on this classic about the reunion of a fan club of the infamous Rebel Without a Cause actor.

    Ed Graczyk’s 1976 Broadway play and the 1982 film (both directed by Robert Altman), which starred the likes of Cher, Kathy Bates, Karen Black, and Sandy Dennis, offer a rare early example of positive trans representation in media. “I remembered the original play from high school. I either never knew, I had forgotten, or blocked out that there was an iconic trans character at the center of the story,” Shakina said. “When I was invited to join the creative team and I reencountered the play, I was so excited to rescue this incredible character of Joanne from the archive, and really to give all the women in the show [a] new voice, and new insight into their characters through song.”

    Shakina will return to TheatreWorks where she packed the house with a wildly successful appearance during the company’s 2014 New Works Festival. “One Woman Show marked the beginning of my transition, and now I’m returning to TheatreWorks a completely self-made woman, so that feels victorious,” she said. “I’m also excited to be telling a story this time that’s not my own (not autobiographical), and to be using my skills as a writer and storyteller to bring these beloved characters to life in new ways.”

    This New Works Festival performance offers a unique opportunity for the innovative artist to peel back the curtain. “What’s adding even more zip to this concert: I’m not only going to be performing songs from the musical, but I will also be sharing the stories behind how we wrote it, when we were collaborating intercontinentally over Zoom during the pandemic. We didn’t meet in person until after we had finished a few drafts of the show, and the backstories behind the songs are just as fun, moving, and heartfelt as the tunes themselves.”

    After Shakina’s performance, audiences are invited to don their dancing shoes for a Texas Honkytonk-themed after-party with drinks and music as TheatreWorks celebrates the Bay Area’s vibrant LGBTQIA+ community. You should stick around as you might just see the evening’s star showing off her moves: “I never miss out on a dance floor!” Shakina exclaimed.

    Theatre was an early love for Shakina and she advocates for its importance. “I think there’s something special about live performance. As we spend more time in front of our screens and in artificial realities, I think it’s more important than ever for people to gather in shared physical space, breathe, and feel the live energy of immediate performance together.”

    Don’t miss this vibrant, fun-filled night, raising funds for TheatreWorks in its continued missions of supporting the development of new theatre and bringing the arts to Bay Area audiences.

    TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presentsSongs and Stories with Shakina: A Musical TheatreWorks Fundraiser and Party Friday, August 18, at Palo Alto’s Lucie Stern Theatre. The event is presented in partnership with the Commonwealth Club of California. At 6 pm, Shakina will sit down with Michelle Meow for a pre-show conversation to be broadcast on the Commonwealth Club’s Michelle Meow Show—tickets to this conversation are free and can be reserved at

    At 7 pm, Shakina will perform, followed by an after-party. Tickets for the special benefit performance are $150 for the show and after-party, $50 for the show only.

    For tickets and information, please call 877-662-8978 or visit

    Arts & Entertainment
    Published on July 27, 2023