(Photo courtesy Mado la Motte)
(May 30) Few know more than Montreal playwright Steve Galluccio how incredible a launching pad the Fringe Festival is. The openly-gay Galluccio launched his career at the Fringe two decades ago with She's The Queen in 1991, and has since gone on to fame and glory on stages around the world. His 2003 play Mambo Italiano – a poignant comedy about two closeted gay Italian lovers – was translated into French by none other than Michel Tremblay, has been restaged worldwide in several different languages, been adapted into a successful movie co-starring Ginette Reno and Paul Sorvino, and will soon become a Broadway musical.
But it all started at the Montreal Fringe. So Galluccio agreed to be their festival spokesperson this year.
“I was a part of the first four Fringes,” Galluccio notes in this year’s festival program. “I could tell you how the festival launched my career, but that would be boring. As I was thinking of all those years ago, one magical memory came to mind: it was the third year I think, and the beer tent was somewhere in a parking lot on St. Laurent, south of Prince-Arthur. It was a brutally/beautiful hot night, and the power went out in the tent. As we were sitting there in the dark, I asked one of the actresses in my play (Yayou) to belt out the song Respect. She did, and before you knew it everyone was singing along and harmonizing and clapping their hands. The song ended, the lights came back on, and there you had it: the spirit of the Fringe Festival. There is nothing quite like it.”
Galluccio’s work was always fabulously gay, and here are my choice gay (and gay-friendly) picks for this year’s festival:
The Last Straight Man In Theatre Canadian Fringe veteran and New York based actor/comedian Kurt Fitzpatrick’s solo show is a multimedia, multi-character comedy that involves a live Fitzpatrick portraying a cast of characters on stage, while interacting with filmed versions of himself as even more characters. Characters include Guardino, a male prostitute, Will, a rebellious teenage boy, and Mary, a preaching black waitress. The result is a strange, wild, and hilarious ride through one weird night in a neighborhood of Kurt’s imagination. OK, maybe not very gay, but we love our male prostitutes. At Venue 7 (Portuguese Association, 4170 St. Urbain), $12 admission. June 10-11-13-17-18-19.
|How to Become Jayee|
How to Become Jayee Plateau Theatre’s press release reads, “The one and only original director of the FBI is back, in drag, and in charge. But will he be able to strong-arm the masses this time, or will his past haunt his uncertain future? Journey over to the set of a Hollywood blockbuster with 20th century America’s most flamboyant cop, a supermodel starlet and, of course, the ubiquitous equestrian mediatrix.” Doesn’t get much gayer than this, folks. Stars Zack Amzallag, Caroline Gautier, Jennifer May Walker. At Venue 8 (Club D’Espagnol, 4388 St Laurent). $10 admission. June 10-11-13-15-18-19.
The Importance of Being Earnest If it’s written by Oscar Wilde – as this is – it qualifies as gay theatre. Being Earnest is one of the most performed shows in theatre (reportedly with an expected 27 different performances around the world just this season) and it's easily Oscar Wilde's most famous play. Brave New Productions asks, “So what makes ours different and a must-see at this summer's Fringe Festival? We have taken the English classic and updated it for today's audience. Changes include moving the time period from the past to the present, the setting from England to Louisiana, updating and condensing the original text as well as altering the genders of a few key characters resulting in a great commentary on sexuality today.” This play will be performed OFF-FRINGE at the Galeriie Avenue Art (10 King Street). $10 admission. $7 students. June 13-15-16-17.
Body Slam If you love looking at hot male and female bodies in motion, do not miss Gregory ‘Krypto’ Selinger directing Montreal artists seen on the stages of Cirque Eloize, SYTYCD Canada, KalmUnity and The Jazz Festival in unique, structured improvisations, fusing breakdance, circus, contemporary dance, music, and slam poetry. At La Tangente (840 Cherrier). $10 admission. June 10-11-12-15-17-18.
The Sods This may not be uber-gay, but damn their press release sounds good: “After decades of moral outrage, legal disputes and controversy, porn emporiums have become a relic of our naughty past. Big cities always had a nondescript doorway or two where trenchcoat-clad men would enter to view peep shows, porn film loops, or classic strip tease acts. Montreal Fringe audiences will hear from denizens of the last porn emporium on earth, in The Sods.” This one-man show is Written and performed by Jason Thompson. At Venue 4 (Centre des arts contemporain, 4247 St-Dominique). Admission $12. June 10-11-12-16-17-18.
Crossroads An original translation of a traditional oriental theatre style known as Beijing Opera. This comedy of errors revolves around a great general who has been disgraced and exiled from the Song dynasty. He is almost killed pre-emptively by his guards, but for a loyal innkeeper, his wife and a mysterious stranger. Two of these would-be rescuers grow suspicious of each other and end up fighting eone another blind, in a hilarious and acrobatic ‘Fight in the Dark’ full of martial arts. At Venue 9 (The MAI Theatre, 3680 Jeanne-Mance). $10 admission. June 10-11-13-15-17-19.
Hedwig and The Angry Inch
Hedwig and The Angry Inch Few haven’t heard about New Yorker John Cameron Mitchell’s cult-classic punk glam rock musical. This version stars Antonio Bavaro (a.k.a Montreal drag queen Connie Lingua) as the iconic Hedwig and Peggy Hogan as sidekick Yitzahk alongside a live four-piece band. Adding to the vibe and authenticity, Hedwig is being performed OFF-FRINGE at Montreal’s indie punk venue Katacombes (1635 St-Laurent). $12 admission. June 9-12-13-14-15-16-19.
Smut Slam Montreal’s first-ever Smut slam will be a fast-paced night of storytelling based on real life, real lust, real sex, on June 8 at Café Souffle (100 Marie-Anne West). Smut Slammers sign up to tell a 5-minute piece of smut/sex/erotica based on their real lives and somehow relating to the Fringe. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. One night only. $7 admission.
Mado La Motte’s Drag Race! The most popular event in Fringe history is back for its eleventh fabulous year with ringleader Mado La Motte – Montreal’s iconic and famed drag queen who celebrates 25 years in showbiz in 2012 – pitting Montreal’s best-known professional drag queens against a bevy of fringe beautifies in a aseries of skill-testing obstacles! And this bitch – i.e. me! – will be one of this year’s judges! June 18 at 4 p.m at the Fringe Park (Parc des Ameriques on The Main). Free admission (pay what you can).
NEW LESBIAN UPDATES!
Doing Good Fab Montreal dyke stand-up comic Jess Solomon – who is also a former UN war crimes lawyer – jokes about her attempts at doing good. I think Solomon rocks – she is very funny. OFF A at the Montreal Improv (3713 St Laurent # 202). $12 admission. June 9-10-11-12-13-15-17-18-19
Robby Hoffman: Autobiography Hilarious Montreal stand-up comic Robby Hoffman (this city is an amazing breeding ground of dyke comics of late) “sees life through a more neurotic, hilariously charming point of view. Ever feel trapped in the wrong body? Robby catches herself saying ‘young people these days, Jesus’. Then she realizes, oops, she’s one of them. Guess it’s symptomatic of being born 7th to a single hearing-impaired Jewish mother!” At Venue 2 at Petit Campus (57 Prince Arthur East). $12 admission. June 11-12-14-17-18-19.