“Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King” Continues the Epic Story

"Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King" Continues the

Loved the romantic fairy tale of Prince & Knight, the 2018 picture book about two young men battling a dragon and falling in love? Their tale continues in a new book out today.

Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King

Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King, by Daniel Haack and illustrated by Stevie Lewis (Little Bee Books), picks up where the first book left off. We see the Prince and Knight getting married and crowned by the Prince’s parents, though the Prince is the only one of the pair ever shown with a crown, even after this. (And the Prince is still a prince, not a king; presumably this is akin to Prince Charles being crowned Prince of Wales.)

Soon after this happy day, though, “a fog of darkness spread” throughout the realm, destroying crops, and the Prince and Knight know they have to do something. The kingdom’s sage tells them to go and find the Shadow King, whose “soul is filled with rage.”

Prince and Knight set off with their warriors and encounter the Shadow King’s army of monsters. They beat them all (though there is no gore shown) except for one, who threatens the knight until the prince saves him, just as the knight saved the prince from the dragon in the first book. The knight kisses the prince on the forehead and they once again reaffirm that they’ll put their lives on the line for each other. The equality in their relationship (despite their initial difference of rank) is one of the strengths of both books.

Prince & Knight: Tale of the Shadow King

The Shadow King knows he is defeated. He tells them, “I want to end this darkness” and shares his tale with them. He used to be happy, he explains, “But soon the world turned against me for the way I dress and speak.” This isn’t explained further, though we see that he wears a rose-colored tunic that hangs to mid-thigh, along with wide, dark rose pants and a long cape. I think his clothes are meant to be gender creative, but this is a fantasy world and they also have the vibe of royal robes, so it’s hard to tell. His long hair, which hangs to his waist, could also be viewed as gender creative (if we assume gender markers in this world echo our own), but this is not mentioned as a reason for his harassment. And his speech is not described, so we can’t determine why it was the object of ridicule. I know that some young queer children assigned male at birth get teased for talking “effeminately,” however; they (or children with other speech differences) may be able to see themselves here even if the book leaves out the details.

The Shadow King explains further, though, that “Because I loved a squire, I was banished to the dark,” and his growing sadness is what triggered his evil powers. Again, though, it’s unclear why his love for the squire was opposed. Was it because of homophobia? The Prince’s realm easily accepted the Prince and Knight’s love (and on the first spread of this book, we see a female same-sex couple as well); perhaps the land that the Shadow King had ruled was less welcoming. Or was it because of the social differences between a king and a lowly squire? The text doesn’t tell us; readers may interpret this as they wish.

Regardless, the Knight assures the Shadow King that he was treated unfairly. “Our differences make us unique. Let’s celebrate them with pride,” the Knight tells him. The Knight waves his hand to paint a rainbow across the page as he adds, “Like the colors of the rainbow, I’m glad we’re not all the same.” It’s a little on the nose as a queer analogy, but perhaps that’s the point.

The Shadow King is filled with hope. The prince invites him back to their home as sunlight spreads across the land. There, the Shadow King “built his own family,” and we see him with his beloved squire, who wears a long skirt/kilt and is helping a young child learn to walk.

As in the first book, the Prince and his parents are White, as is the Shadow King. The Knight’s skin and hair are darker than the Prince’s, and appear somewhat darker even than in the first book. Characters in crowd scenes are of various skin tones, including several who appear Black. Lewis’ warmly colored illustrations have a Disney-like quality in the best sense as they paint both the world and its characters.

The rhythm of the rhyming text jolts awkwardly at times, but the message of how harassment can lead to self-hate and spill out to impact a whole community is a fitting expansion to the themes of love and acceptance from the first book. Likewise, it’s good to see characters who appear to push the norms of gender expression. Let’s hope they’ll be centered in a future book in the series.

The book is being published as part of the partnership between Little Bee Books and GLAAD. As with all books from the partnership, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to GLAAD’s work of “accelerating LGBTQ acceptance.”

It’s Easter Weekend. Binge upon the gayest Biblical epic of all time. / Queerty

It’s Easter Weekend. Binge upon the gayest Biblical epic of


Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.

The (Very) Long Stare: Ben-Hur

Director William Wyler pushed the sword & sandal/Biblical epic to new extremes with this 1959 opus, which ties with Titanic and The Return of the King for most Acadamy Award wins in history. The film stars Charlton Heston as the title character, a Jewish prince living under Roman rule in the first century. Judah Ben-Hur has just about all the comforts he could want until he runs afoul of his childhood friend Messala (Stephen Boyd), who–for reasons never expressly said–turns on Judah, stripping his family of wealth and condemning him to servitude. Several years pass, and Judah plots to avenge his family name first as a soldier, and later, as a charioteer. His rising celebrity brings Judah back into conflict with Messala, as well as the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Ben-Hur begins to have a religious awakening thanks to his interaction with the preacher Jesus of Nazareth, as he squares off against Messala in one final chariot race.

So where’s the gay, you ask? The late, great Gore Vidal penned the script to Ben-Hur, and in the 1990s revealed that he’s written the Judah/Messala relationship to have overt homosexual overtones. In Vidal’s backstory, the pair had been gay lovers as teens. When they reconnect years later, Judah spurns Messala’s advances, prompting the latter’s petty dismantling of Judah’s life and family. Star Charlton Heston always denied Vidal’s story, though William Wyler’s direction and Stephen Boyd’s performance certainly suggest a gay affair between the two characters. Contemporary writings from other production personnel would seem to confirm Vidal’s version of the story: Judah jilted his ex-boyfriend Messala.

In other words, Ben-Hur is a Christian epic that also happens to be gay AF.

We’re sure here for it. Besides the gayness, Ben-Hur offers much more to enjoy, including terrific performances by Heston (who won an Oscar), Boyd, and Hugh Griffith (who also won an Oscar), heart-pounding action in the chariot scenes, and some of the lushest production designs Hollywood ever created. In a medium known for ambitious epics, Ben-Hur ranks among the finest ever produced.

Normally we recommend a series as part of our Weekend Binge feature, but at over three and a half hours longBen-Hur is a binge unto itself. We recommend it as a way to celebrate Easter, queer style…at least until someone makes a movie where Jesus is actually gay. Nobody has adapted Terrence McNally’s “gay Jesus” play Corpus Christi yet! We’re just saying…

Streams on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube & VUDU.

Tony-nominated Sydney Lucas Joins EPIC for new virtual series – Lesbian.com

Tony-nominated Sydney Lucas Joins EPIC for new virtual series –

EPIC Players Inclusion Company is proud to release their fourth virtual performance, Ring of Keys from the Broadway production of Fun Home. The video features a duet between Tony Nominated Sydney Lucas and EPIC company member Nicole D’Angelo. The performance is part of EPIC’s new virtual performance series, EPIC Sings for Autism, which was started after EPIC’s spring/summer performances were put on hold due to the COIVD-19 Pandemic. The New York City based neuro-diverse theater company created the series so their autistic performers could have a creative outlet and find some normalcy during this time.

Lucas shared what drew her to collaborating with EPIC, “Fun Home has had such a positive impact on so many people. I recognized this very early on and have always felt a responsibility to tell Alison’s story to the best of my ability. Learning that it touched Nicole (D’Angelo) and really spoke to her, touches my heart as well.” She went on to say, “I wanted to raise more awareness about autism because it’s another story that needs to be told, and another group of wonderful people who need to be recognized and acknowledged. After all, Ring of Keys is a song about recognition. Meeting Nicole over ZOOM was extra special and getting to sing Ring of Keys together with her is the cherry on top. Fun Home has taught me that when you invest in matters that have the ability to reach into another’s heart, your heart is all the fuller for it. It’s really a beautiful thing to experience!”

EPIC company member D’Angelo went on to say, “Fun Home is the reason I am in theater, and in many ways saved my life. It was such an honor to perform a song from the first show I ever saw that made me feel like there was a place for me, a queer, socially awkward introvert, on a stage, and to share that performance with Sydney Lucas, who helped to shape and create the musical that means so much to me.”

Ring of Keys from the Broadway Musical Fun Home

Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, music by Jeanine Tesori. Featuring Nicole D’Angelo and Sydney Lucas.

In an effort to spread some much-needed joy and inspiration, EPIC’s company members,’ which feature artists on the spectrum, will continue to share a series of virtual performances throughout the Spring. Many of the video’s will be in collaborations with Broadway talent. The company would also like to connect with additional Broadway talent who may be interested in working on a virtual performance with EPIC. Interested individuals can contact Aubrie Therrien at aubrie@epicplayersnyc.org

Individuals living with autism and other neuro-diversities have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shuttered many of their essential resources, programs and supports and left them even more vulnerable to anxiety and distress.

Additional Videos from EPIC’s Virtual Performance Series:

A Whole New World from the Broadway Musical Aladdin

Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Tim Rice. Featuring EPIC company member Jordan Boyatt and Telly Leung who played the title role of Aladdin on Broadway. Accompanied by Scott Evan Davis.

YouTube: https://youtu.be/_tfIqUsJ_NA

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/414538753

Who I’d Be from Shrek the Musical!

Performed by EPIC’s Travis Burbee and Henry Houghton, and featuring special Broadway guest, Analise Scarpaci (Lydia Hillard in Mrs. Doubtfire the Musical!/Broadway). Lyrics‎ by ‎David Lindsay-Abaire, and music by ‎Jeanine Tesori.

YouTube: https://youtu.be/SE2Mqi27pnc

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/410846266

If the World Only Knew

This original song was created by award-winning composer and lyricist Scott Evan Davis who also wrote and composed the new musical Indigo, which workshopped on Broadway this past fall. If the World Only Knew was created for the autistic community and was shared with EPIC for their Lincoln Center cabaret.

YouTube: https://youtu.be/9Ch58BdhYzk
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/404823802

EPIC Players — which stands for empower, perform, include and create — is a nonprofit, neuro-diverse theatre company in New York City. Founded in 2016, EPIC seeks to use the performing arts as a vehicle to empower neuro diverse artists and pioneer increased inclusion in the arts. EPIC also provides free performing arts and careers classes for all participants. The company’s productions feature neuro-diverse artists that work in all capacities of theatre including acting, writing, stage management, design and backstage work. Past productions include neuro-diverse adaptations of The Little Prince, The Tempest, Peter & the Starcatcher, Dog Sees God, You’re A God Man Charlie Brown, Little Shop of Horrors, and numerous cabarets as Joe’s Pub, HBO Headquarters and Lincoln Center.

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Twitter: www.twitter.com/epicplayersnyc