A native of Italy, Fabio Zito has a history of work that has continually been supported and produced by his home theatre but the topic matter of his latest work proved to be too much and for the first time his script was rejected. Not being discouraged, Fabio went of the hunt for a replacement company who could provide them residence and a public performance space – enter the spunky East Village theatre Wild Project.
The Snail is a story about a boy who is locked in a body that he doesn’t recognize until he decides to start living as a woman and while the premise is intoxicating, the execution of the story fell short of making a connection with the audience. The Snail is part Jay & Gloria from Modern Family meets Brandon Teena from Boys Don’t Cry and while Arianna Luzi gave a mesmerizing performance as Andrew, it wasn’t enough to fully bring the audience into the narrative. New York has numerous trans/gender-themed plays (see MDLSX and Boy), some experimental and others very thoughtful, but The Snail was a slow and sticky attempt at telling somebody elses story and it reminded me of a life lesson my cohort Amy Pearl once told me.
For years, Amy had been trying to get her work accepted into Toronto’s queer Rhubarb Festival but Buddies in Bad Times Theatre turned her down. Frustrated, Amy called up the artistic director at the time (and founder) Sky Gilbert to find out why her work, despite being queer in content, was continually passed over. He told her that it wasn’t what was in her work but rather what wasn’t. Amy’s work was probably gayer then most gays could ever hope to be yet it was lacking the vulnerability and insights that can only come as a result of an actual lived experience. It’s not that Amy couldn’t tell a gay man’s story (she’s gayer then most gays I know), Sky was suggesting that she get comfortable in her own shows before attempting a mile someone else’s heels. It’s sage advice because most people spend their entire lives trying to unpack their own identities and so aiming to do that for another human being just pushes the story that much farther from reality.
What do Liza Minnelli, Joan Rivers, Bette Midler, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, and Ryan G Hinds have in common? They all love high camp, sequins, show tunes and they’ve each been guests to the historic Don’t Tell Mama, a cabaret piano bar in New York’s theatre district. And now Ryan (Hedwig & the Angry Inch; MacArthur Park Suite, A Disco Ballet, Starry Notions) will upstage them all by performing a one night show for the last stop on his three city tour. The Toronto premiere was met with a standing ovation at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, before mounting it at the Mainline Theatre in Montréal and now he’s headed to the big apple for what will be his cabaret debut performance.
#KanderAndEbb will no doubt be high camp both because Ryan is involved and because it’s cleaverly based on John Kander and Fred Ebb who were the famed songwriters behind Chicago, Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Funny Lady, Zorba, The Visit and New York New York.
Expect some new arrangements of old classics plus experience some of Kander and Ebb’s lesser-known songs performed by the impossible-to-upstage Ryan G. Hinds. Ryan has performed with artists such as Todrick Hall, Debbie Reynolds, Lady Bunny, Sky Gilbert and yes, even Liza Minnelli. Go see #KanderAndEbb, you are guaranteed a great time. Musical director Mark Selby on piano, Jeff Deegan on bass and Julian “Fatsound” Clarke on drums.
November 15th at 8PM
Don’t Tell Mama
343 West 46th Street
Saturday November 15th 2105
8pm $10 (+2 drink min)
Tix: (212) 757-0788 or to reserve.
TORONTO: Buddies in Bad Times, October 4th at 8 PM
MONTREAL: Mainline Theatre, October 9th and 10th, 8 PM
NEW YORK CITY: Don’t Tell Mama, November 15th 8PM