A funny & moving journey that entertains & inspires – Alison Wearing’s Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter

Fairy's DaughterPlaywright/actor/author Alison Wearing’s one-woman show Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad, expanded and published as a full-length book last year, is currently running at U of T’s George Ignatieff Theatre as part of World Pride 2014 Toronto. And I was so happy to be able to catch it last night!

Co-created by Wearing and director Stuart Cox, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter has been re-imagined for this Pride run, with the assistance of Calvin B. Grant’s multimedia and sound design – together creating a magical experience of memoir and storytelling.

Taking us on a journey through her ‘normal’ childhood in Peterborough, Wearing shares memories and events around her Dad coming out when she was 12 – and the subsequent emotional fall-out, and reorganization of family and home life when her parents divorced. Each scene is accompanied by projected images of family photos, and a soundtrack of both her and father’s favourite music, creating a sense of familiarity as we get to know Wearing and the world and people she grew up with.

Wearing is a highly engaging storyteller, shifting with ease through each vignette, and moving in and out of the various characters in her story, deftly performing childhood variations of herself and her friend Jessica, as well as both her parents. And as she progresses into young adulthood, we get the sense that this journey has been as much about self-discovery for her as it was for her father.

Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is a funny, moving journey of revelation and discovery – and ultimately understanding and acceptance – that both entertains and inspires.

You have two more chances to see Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: today (Sat, June 28) at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Wearing is available after performances for book signings or just to say “hi.” Go see this.

In the meantime, check out Shelagh Rogers’ interview with Wearing and her dad on CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter.

And have a peek at the trailer for Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter:

 

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Judy! Judy! Judy! Kimberly Roberts’ powerhouse performance in The Get Happy Hour with Judy

Get Happy HourThe late actress/entertainer Judy Garland is beloved on an international scale, and especially so among the LGBT community. And no one does Judy Garland quite like Kimberly Roberts.

I first saw Roberts appear as Garland in the The Judy Monologues at Toronto Fringe – and was struck by how much Roberts was able to convey of Garland throughout a completely silent performance.

I had the great pleasure of seeing Roberts perform in The Get Happy Hour with Judy, in the second of two World Pride 2014 Toronto opening night shows at Revival Bar last night, and it was the first time I’d heard her speak onstage.

Written by Roberts and Sephera Giron, and directed by Sarah Strange, The Get Happy Hour with Judy is part multi-media theatre/part cabaret/part TV show. Roberts plays both a Garland impersonator named Kimberly Williams and Garland herself in this largely one-woman show. Jamie Johnson plays the affable Bartender and accompanist, and Stuart Park guests as the Drunk and the Announcer. The action shifts from Williams chatting with the bartender about Garland and her cancelled TV show, and the two share an appreciation of her work even as they ponder the tabloid reports of self-destructive behaviour. Williams chooses to see the positive side of Garland, though, and imagines how successful her TV show would have been if it had been set up as a happy hour, with people talking, drinking, performing and enjoying. Complete with vintage black and white TV commercials, and a slide show of Garland family photos.

This is where Roberts really gets cooking. From there, the show launches into the TV program that never was, imagined by an actress sitting in a bar, chatting with a bartender over a martini: The Get Happy Show with Judy. Garland tells us about her early days in the business and shares stories about family, highlighted by the song choices (which Roberts expertly lip-syncs), including some rarely heard gems that will thrill Garland fans.

It’s more than the fact that Roberts is a remarkable look-alike. Every expression, from the mouth to the eyes, every gesture is nuanced and precise. The warmth and vulnerability behind the powerful voice and stage presence is palpable. And that’s why people love Judy Garland. Roberts doesn’t play Judy Garland – she channels Judy Garland.

You have two more chances to catch The Get Happy Hour with Judy during its Pride run: tonight (Wed, June 25) at 7:15 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. You can also follow and like The Get Happy Hour with Judy on Facebook.

If you’re heading over to Revival Bar, you might also consider getting there early and taking in JJ Marie Gufreda’s Left Hander in London: The Earthquake, based on Gufreda’s book about her transition from a “Joe to a Jane,” which is touring with The Get Happy Hour with Judy and has performances at 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on June 25. I caught the end of the show last night – and it promises to be a funny and poignant experience.

p.s. – Love how The Get Happy Hour with Judy gang includes their favourite Judy Garland song in their bios. Mine is “The Man That Got Away.” What’s yours?

 

 

 

 

Dawn Patrol Pride brings the big, gay funny @ Comedy Bar

Had some big, gay fun times at Dawn Whitwell’s weekly Dawn Patrol standup show at Comedy Bar last night – this week, the extra spectacular Pride edition.

Last night’s lineup featured an amazing roster of local talent, representing some of the funniest gays in the City (in order of appearance):

Paul Hutcheson

Danz Altvater

Regina the Gentlelady (see also the band The Lightfires)

Marco Bernardi

Carolyn Taylor

Phil Luzi

Catherine McCormick

Ted Morris

Deanne Smith

Here are some pix I took last night:

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World Pride musical drag fabulousness & support for PWA – A Chorus Queen

A-Chorus-Queen-Poster-30I was very happy to kick off my World Pride Toronto experience with the opening of A Chorus Queen at Hart House Theatre last night; a drag musical conceived by Marc Simcox (also the show’s executive producer and artistic director) and Ramzi Ayyash, with book by Joseph Amenta.

Directed by Heather Nassler, with choreography by Lucas Porter, A Chorus Queen takes us on a journey of live, love and following a dream as we tag along with three intrepid drag queens Tanya (Justin Deschaine/Laydee Justice), Veronica (Devion Farley/Devine Darlin) and Dede (Andrew Pelrine/Bunni Lapin) – sisters in heels – on their trip of self-discovery as they go after their dream of performing at the Moulin Rouge. All presided over by their mentor Mama Rose (Chantelle Helena Carr/Farra N Hyte), and accompanied by a hot and talented ensemble of young men (aka “the boys”), a soundtrack of well-known and beloved show tunes, the hilarious hoofer antics of the puckish Delicious Dick (Jose Arias/Dyna Thirst) – and a struggle against the vicious machinations of the evil queen Unca (Matty Cameron/Scarlett Bobo). Adding to the fun and glamour is a cast of guest queens, including Sofonda Cox, Brooklyn Hytes, Judy Virago, Xtacy Love, Carlotta Carlisle, Jada Hudson, Igby Izzard and Ala Mode.

A Chorus Queen is a singing, dancing, drag extravaganza, featuring stunning costumes by Michael DiFruscio, and witty – sometimes bitchy – banter. The second act especially stands out, with Carr giving her all in a knock-out performance of “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy; and Farley and Pelrine rock “Take Me Or Leave Me” from Rent. I adored the rendition of “You Don’t Own Me” from (the First Wives Club (movie version) from our three heroines Deschaine, Farley and Pelrine – reprised near the end of the show in its full pop glory. And the entire cast gives us a tap number that’ll knock your socks off.

A Chorus Queen is a magically delicious drag musical with sparkles on top. And if that weren’t enough, the show is a fundraiser for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation (PWA).

That’s two reasons to go out and see A Chorus Queen. If you need a third – it’s World Pride! A drag show is pretty much compulsory for a complete Pride experience. The show runs until June 28 – be sure to note the 7:30 p.m. curtain time.

So go forth, get tickets, have lots of fun and support a great cause. And have a happy and safe Pride! xo

World Pride 2014 Toronto event teaser: The Get Happy Hour with Judy

Get Happy PicHere’s another World Pride 2014 Toronto event I’m really looking forward to: The Get Happy Hour with Judy, directed by Sarah Strange and featuring remarkable Judy Garland look-alike Kimberly Roberts – running June 24 – 25 at Revival Bar at 7:15 p.m. and 10:15 p.m.

Toronto Fringe fans may remember Roberts performing as Ms. Garland in The Judy Monologues at Toronto Fringe 2012.

Kimberly Roberts is a truly incredible performer. She’s not so much impersonating Judy Garland as channeling her. Need proof? Check out this clip of her performing:

Come have a martini and spend the evening with Judy as she tells us about the TV show she’d preferred doing.

In the meantime, you can go follow and like The Get Happy Hour with Judy on Facebook.

 

 

World Pride 2014 Toronto event teaser: Alison Wearing’s Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter

Fairy's DaughterPlaywright/actor/author Alison Wearing adapted her memoir Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad into the award-winning one-woman show Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, which will be featured during World Pride 2014 Toronto at U of T’s George Ignatieff Theatre (June 25-28).

Written as a comic monologue, Wearing takes us along on her journey of discovery and coming to grips with her father coming out when she was 12.

“Balancing intimacy, history and downright hilarity, this is a story of birthday parties and bath house raids, confusion and closets, scandals and soufflés, disco and opera, and the triumphant music of love.”

This is a show you will not want to miss – so best reserve your tickets for Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter now.

In the meantime, check out Shelagh Rogers’ interview with Wearing and her dad on CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter.

And have a peek at the trailer for Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: