Friday, July 22, 2011

New York, September 2011

Getting excited, lots of fun stuff to see in New York!

Wed Aug 31
- arrive via Porter at 13:00
- staying at the Vanderbilt YMCA
- the Museum of Sex is having an exhibition on Justin Spring's Obscene Diary which I must see! I found a coupon for $3 off the $17.50 admission and the museum is open until 8 pm.
- I will likely want to see the above right away and can continue down to The Strand Bookstore and The Stonewall Inn
- if time permits I could even continue down further to the Taschen New York Store and the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation which is only open noon-6 pm so I better make contingency plans. It says they have a new exhibition opening Sept 1 anyway.  Watch me wait to go to it and it's something lesbian.
- also the Keith Haring bathroom on the 2nd floor of the LGBT center

Thurs Sept 1
- the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation which is only open noon-6 pm and the above stuff I don't get time for
- 7 pm, Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Fri Sept 2
- I want to see the Roosevelt Island Tramway. The entrance to it is really close to my hotel.  The question is then of course what to do on Roosevelt Island? I suppose walk around and find out.
- There's a NYC transit museum that looks great.  $7 to get in, open Tues-Fri 10-4.  It's located in a dis-used subway station.

Sat Sept 3
- 8 pm, had a ticket to My Big Gay Italian Wedding which just announced it's closing on Aug 20 so I got a refund. I think I'll go see Priscilla instead. There seems to be some good discounts on tickets at Givenik. In fact I found a ticket in the third row there right beside the premium level seats for $95.

Sun Sept 4
- The Tenement Museum looks amazing. Open 10 to 6.
- 7 pm, There's an off-Broadway play called "Tricks the Devil Taught Me" I may go see with discount tickets here for $45.  I'll have to read more about it first.

Mon Sept 5
- 11 am, I have been near it but I can actually go to Ellis Island and see the Statue of Liberty. Only 240 people per day are allowed to go up and see the crown area and these tickets are of course sold out until Hell freezes over so that's out.  Turns out only 3000 people per day can even go to the base so I bought that now from State Cruises.
- 8 pm, Going to see Avenue Q off-Broadway

Tues Sept 6
- The Forbes Galleries have some cool stuff hoarded by the founder of Forbes magazine including old Monopoly boards and the glasses Lincoln was wearing when he was shot. And it's free! 10 am-4 pm.
- 7 pm, The Book of Mormon, NYC's hottest show

Wed Sept 7
- my place is right beside the UN Building so I must go. $16 admission and a 30-45 minute security check both sound great (NOT!), it's open 9-5:30 pm.

Thurs Sept 8
- flying back, arriving in Toronto at 2:25 pm

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Saved - Factory Theatre

*I feel like some of my reviews lately have been overly critical. Okay, not just lately. Anyway, I now want to attempt to be more constructive in my reviews and highlight areas for change rather than strictly outlining faults and have started with this review*

As I sit in the courtyard waiting for this play to start, I read the director's notes in the program.  He talks about disenfranchised middle class youth in Canada contributing to the G20 and Vancouver riots because they are "repressed by their disconnect to themselves and society". That these youth feel nothing towards our society "except hate and anger".

The play features a group of adolescents who feel disconnected and commit a shocking act of violence. This is the play that Sarah Kane's Blasted should have been and this play pre-dates Blasted by 30 years. The play is fantastically written, not falling into the trap of so many plays about adolescents and overly focusing on their ennui. This play has relate-ability for youth, but also a forward moving plot, humor and character development. I can see why the director chose to stage it.

The production was good but some things can be done to make it better, even now half way through it's run.

1. Change the season. The theatre has no air conditioning and was about 35 degrees the night I saw the show. The cast has been forced into jackets and sweaters and when one character says "its too cold in here" laughter erupts from the audience. Change the season to summer, get the cast out of their sweaters and stop the sweat from dripping off them. The summer of violence rings truer anyway.
2. Pick a time. The play is written and set in 1965 yet the directors notes claim the setting was moved to 1997. You can't have lines like "I'll text you a photo" in 1997 and cell phones the size of credit cards.  Also in 1997 it's unlikely a woman would be trying to fix her stockings with a needle and thread, or that she would be going out to the cinema to see the latest Tarzan picture. Clean this up.
3. Two of the three leads are perfect. The young man who opens the show sounds and acts like Dick Van Dyke in the movie Mary Poppins. He's more likely to host a tea party on the ceiling than start a knife fight. Toughen him up and have him watch Mary Poppins for a lesson in what not to do.
4. Drop the opening scenes.  They're too confusing.  One second he's asking her name, the next second they're on a boat, the next second they've broken up?  It moves too fast and only serves to distance the audience from the material when the play starts. Drop these scenes and start with the break-up.
5. Give the old man an ironing board! He stands there for five minutes in a pivotal scene ironing his shirt on the back of a sofa and it's ridiculous. An ironing board would bring your total props to I think three? Its not too much to ask.

Fantastic source material and moments of brilliance.

"A society that maintains an underclass tolerates a measure of barbarity."—The New York Times, in their review of Saved

Monday, July 11, 2011

Excuse Me, Would You Like to Buy a Bar - Bathurst St Theatre

The author of this play, Wesley J. Colford, caught my attention as a handsome dancer in the recent performance of Reefer Madness. I saw him outside Mickey & Judy, we spoke, and I decided to add his play to my already lengthy list of nine.
An attractive young cast that really commits to their roles and some great scenes.  Is this supposed to be a drama or a comedy though?  It felt like the serious scenes were being played for laughs, and there was some laughter, but then why were there serious scenes?
At the beginning two women are talking and then a Chinese xylophone plays and the two women forget who the other person is or why they were talking.  Then they suddenly start talking again, then again with the Chinese xylophone, then again with the memory loss.  Then the play moves on and never mentions the Chinese xylophone or the memory loss ever again.  What's up with that? Parts like that take away from the good aspects of this play.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Radioactive Drag Queens From the Year 3000 - Factory Theatre

This show is an abomination.
There's so many problems it's hard to know where to start.  First of all there are no drag queens except in the last 30 seconds.  There is a tired tranny in a $2 house dress and a couple of women but that's it.  The one drag performance comes at the very end, a plot device you can smell in the first 30 seconds of the show, and the man doesn't know the words to the song and can't dance or lip synch. The two women behind him doing the "walk like an Egyptian" move behind him don't help.
The action comes screeching to a halt for three 5 minute monologues that will make you want to scratch out your eyes.  The one by the "straight" man is so offensive it borders on homophobic.  "I really like vagina.  No seriously.  As in no cock.  Vagina.  More vagina.  I beat up a drag queen once.  Did I mention vagina?" is a summary of the speech.
So terrible it makes you not want to go see other Fringe shows.
So terrible I was, I'm not kidding, sitting in the audience thinking how little time we have on this earth and how I was spending it watching this.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mickey & Judy - Tarragon Theatre Extra Space

Michael Hughes, the writer and star of this one-man show, is a revelation.
This show is full of heart as Michael takes situations like being taken for psychiatric testing for cross-dressing at age six and presents them with humour and without self-pity.  He describes how he has gotten through difficult situations in his life by watching musicals and escaping to a different land and the show itself is intercut with musical numbers by this gifted performer.
The honesty and humour of the piece draws you in and won't let go.
A standing ovation well deserved, you'll laugh and cry.
The feel good show of the Fringe.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

La Duchesse de Langeais - The Central - Fringe Festival

It's that time of year again, the Fringe festival is back in town.

As I step out of The Central I look at my watch and see the play runs 21 minutes short of it's promised 60 minute duration, but you won't mind. The Central is a bar with an amazing patio just behind Honest Ed's with an inside like a house of horrors.  The walls appear to be cobbled together from other walls of other abandoned buildings. There is no room at all, when you walk up the steps to use the bathroom the person at the top has to stop as two people do not have room to pass each other.
The "stage" is a long room, maybe 15 feet long and 7 feet wide. In the 7 feet wide there is a table, three chairs, an aisle and no air conditioning. The chairs are made into rows the length of the 15 foot long room at a very tight angle, leaving you hot and cramped.
Once the play started it became apparent the "stage" was  by the bar as every five minutes or so a server would get a drink. The "stage" was also in the kitchen, separated by a door that did not fully close. The parade of staff streaming into the kitchen did not stop for more than 30 seconds and rarely then. Being beside the kitchen did not help the temperature either which got hotter and hotter as the show went on until the sweat was pouring off my forehead in buckets. Despite the fact that it was only 24 outside, inside it was at least 35 with no breeze.
The show would have been less disturbed if it was held in the middle of the street and like in a suburban road hockey game, the play could have stopped and the audience could have picked up their chairs whenever a car came.
The play would have felt less disrupted if it was held in Union station during rush hour. That may have even added  to the play with the people going about their busy lives while La Duchesse, The Duchesse, pauses to reflect on hers.
The original play was written as a monologue by Michel Tremblay, whose work St Carmen of the Main was recently produced by CanStage. This version is presented with three characters, La Duchesse and her male and female inner voices and the change really works well. It serves to amp up the emotion of the piece, something absent from the recent production of St Carmen.
There's a trick in translation whereby you leave certain words un-translated. It helps to add a feeling of the original and when done well it doesn't matter that the audience doesn't understand the odd word as they get the gist and a sense of another place, in this case Montreal. By the end of the piece the translator gets it right and there's a decimate flow mixed with a French je ne sais quoi. The beginning still needs more work with entire sentences or two sentences left untranslated it only serves to draw non French speakers away from the story.
The cast are all consummate professionals, in perfect attire giving mostly flawless performances. The lead did flub a series of lines in the middle but his acting was fantastic, playing La Duchesse with a coy smile and frowning funnily when her female or male counterpart brings up something unpleasant.
A great piece that deserves to be seen by a wide audience but that I cannot recommend in it's current venue.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Toronto Gay Pride 2011

Another amazing weekend at Toronto gay pride.  It's always a highlight of my year, and every year I am always astounded at how fast you get to feeling tired and run down in the hot sun.  I plan events for 10 or 11 pm every year and never make it to them as I'm too tired.
Sarah and I stopped off to see the Allan Gardens greenhouse near my place.
This fellow was the best of the TD boys.  I later found him on Model Mayhem.  Here's his profile, his name is Ives and he will pose nude.  Food for thought....
Here is gay porn star Marcus Mojo. I saw another gay porn star standing outside Priape for an authograph session on Friday night with a table and stuff to sign.  I took this photo on Saturday with Marcus just kind of lingering outside Priape talking to friends.  I don't think it was a signing so I didn't approach.
I loved this umbrella!
Here's Sarah on Sunday throwing a football.  No prises won, she made the first shot and then missed the next eight!
This I believe is a friend of my dad and Linda's named Jeremy.  He was moving pretty fast so this is the best photo I could get.
An action shot of David Miller mid fist-pump.
Drag royalty Miss Conception.
Canadian soliders on top of a jeep.  There were several more marching behind the jeep which was nice to see.
Regina, the Gentlelady, did a great set as part of Light Fires.
Here's a fun action shot.  I don't know why this lady had silver things covering her nipples as she wasn't wearing a thing down below.  I also don't know what this float was actually for.  Lesbianism?
One of the strippers from Flash gave a short show out front of the building.
You'll remember last year I was infatuated with this one fellow who stood outside the Stag Shop and shook his stuff.  I posted a video of it. Well this year I kept looking for him everywhere and I was determined to stand there all day.  Everytime I passed the step where he had stood I would glance over and let a little tear leave my eye. He wasn't there.
Sunday night I saw this fellow singing and thought how much he looked like the guy I remembered.
He sang very well and they introduced him as Nathaniel from Queer Idol.  I took a bunch more shots, growing increasingly sure it was him, and got this one:
When I got home I looked up the old photo from last year and it is the same guy.  Notice in the first shot above and in the shot below from last year, he's wearing the same pair of underwear!
I have yet to ask anyone to pose for me after attending the erotic photo workshop and I knew this would be the guy.  I was too chicken to talk to him as he was surrounded by like five women.  I would have had to say "Excuse me women - move.  Would you pose naked for me?"
I Googled "Nathaniel - Queer Idol" and came up with his full name and sent him an email this morning asking him to pose for me.  Yikes!  Now it's all I can think about.
Sarah found this 7 foot tall person who was wearing FLATS!
Sarah got a ballooon hat from this nice man who said he had been a clown for over 40 years.  It turns out the guy is over 60!  He looks good for being over 60 other than the fact that he has no teeth.
There were fewer naked men than normal and this was the best of the bunch for obvious reasons.  I woke up at like one in the morning and said aloud "I should have asked him to pose for me!"  He probably would have done it for free!  Unfortunately a Google search of "Naked guy Toronto Pride" did not turn up this fellow's contact info. :(
More strippers outside Flash putting on a PG-13 rated show.
From Sarah's camera, us with the Trojan folks.
And here's Sarah outside my house with her amazing balloon hat!