Last 2 Fringe Reviews: Mr. Music Please (Guys in Disguise & my take on 2 to Django)
Calgary Fringe Festival Show Reviewed Here: Guys in Disguise Classic: The Silver Anniversary Edition and 2 to Django (again)
After blitzing the Calgary Fringe Festival on the long weekend, I decided that since I’m writing a musical theatre blog I really ought to check out the two shows that are mostly music, even if they aren’t musicals per se. Here’s my take on both of those shows, which I saw on Tuesday and Wednesday. They both still have one more show on Saturday (Guys in Disguise at 3PM and 2 to Django at 8PM - online sales for the latter are now closed so get there early or be prepared to line up if you hope to get a ticket for this one).
Guys in Disguise Classic: The Silver Anniversary Edition (Alexandra Centre Society)
Guys in Disguise Classic: The Silver Anniversary Edition is a musical cabaret by well-known Calgary female impersonators, Mr. Terri Stevens and Justine Tyme. In this show, the two drag queens portray musical icons like Cher, Reba McIntyre, Annie Lenox, and Julie Andrews (as Mary Poppins, if you can imagine, and you probably can) interspersed with comedic and improv bits. Fair warning: if you agree to audience participation in a drag show, don’t be surprised at what they get you up to – or in.
Unlike the Calgary Herald’s Bob Clark, who, unbeknownst to me attended the same performance, I thought this show was merely so-so. While Terri and Justine have the looks, the moves and, of course, the costumes, I found the act not sufficiently funny to keep me engaged, and I have to admit I was put off from the start by the fact that the songs and some of the speech were lip-synched (and sometimes badly so) even though I understand that’s pretty common-place in shows of this type. Perhaps if they were doing Guys in Disguise in the Lantern Church the audience would be sitting far enough back to be able to sustain the illusion. (Now that I think of it that would be intriguing for all kinds of reasons ). As it was, in the front row of the Alexandra Centre, I found it hard to ignore.
I’m not averse to this type of entertainment. In fact, during the 2008 Fringe I tried to work with Inglewood’s Club Paradiso (now Lolita’s Lounge – one of this year’s Bring-Your-Own-Venue locations, which hosts a popular bi-weekly drag show) to host a late-night “Garden of Eden” costume party in concert with my musical, Eve: The True Story. We couldn’t make it work, because, this being the boom before the big economic bust of September 2008, the restaurant/bar couldn’t guarantee they could find enough wait staff for large groups. Too bad, because I think it would have been a blast having people sing and dance the night away dressed as their favourite Garden of Eden character, no doubt with variable amounts of fig leaves.
If you’re not up for a night at Lolita’s or if you’re even braver, at Twisted Element (“Canada’s largest gay bar west of Montreal”) where Terri performs regularly, Guys in Disguise could be a good “intro-to-drag” for not too much time and money, although there are probably better. I suspect Terri’s TE show is considerably racier – and perhaps funnier a result. In fact, I think these guys/gals could do quite well with a late-night over-18 version of this show at the Calgary Fringe Festival, with no holds barred - well, maybe some holds. (This version is rated age 14+). For my money, however, if you want to see a high-energy show with a real bombshell of a woman singing real songs, some of which she wrote herself, consider Carolann Valentino’s ”Best of Fest” show, Burnt at the Steak.
I did have some fun when I got home, googling the question “Why do we/people/gays like drag shows anyway?”. My favourite was a Gawker article entited The Secrets Gay Men Don’t Want Straight People to Know which explains why gay men might not be as fascinated with drag queens as heterosexuals are. It also answers a number of other questions, partly tongue in cheek – and a few other places. Who says theatre’s not educational?
2 to Django (Jacqueline Suzanne’s Bistro)
For my final show I wanted to go to a sure thing, so I chose 2 to Django, which was previously reviewed on this blog by Will Arnold. If the mainstream theatre critics aren’t reviewing this show, it’s likely because they can’t get in. It’s a popular show in a small space and most of the tickets are bought up online or when people first show up on the grounds. Critics have to wait in line like everyone else to compete for spots unless they want to fork over their own cash to buy a ticket in advance like I did.
Colin Godbout’s beautiful guitar music (including familiar Django Reinhardt songs like “Caravan”, “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing”,”Would You Like to Swing on a Star” and “I Love Paris”), mixed with a little bit of storytelling and singing (not his strong suit but good enough) with co-blogger Laurie Strashok was a fine, mellow way to end my Fringe experience. Maybe next time I’ll make an evening of it and do dinner instead of just a nice iced coffee and creme brulee, but then again, there are so many shows to see, and so little time…
That’s it for my reviews. Watch for my recap of the highs and lows at the 2012 Calgary Fringe Festival tomorrow.
The Calgary Fringe Festival runs until Saturday August 11 only. Tickets are $10-$15 per show plus your $5 Fringe button and most shows are about an hour long. For schedules and online tickets (well worth it for popular shows), go to Calgary Fringe Festival. If you want to find people to go with, check out the Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group.