REAL LIVE GIRL written and performed by Damien Atkins. See listings.
Think of next week as a David-and-Goliath battle of the musicals. Or maybe better, a Damien-and-Mel battle. Damien Atkins remounts his double-Dora-winning solo show, Real Live Girl, and what opens the same night? Mel Brooks's monster Broadway hit The Producers.
But Atkins's main concern isn't the competition. Instead, he moans that he has so many friends in The Producers and can't be there opening night.
"And," he says, tongue firmly in cheek, "my show isn't as gay as The Producers."
Yeah, right. Real Live Girl is the queer Atkins's journey through his inner female, with original monologues counterpointed by musical standards written for female performers.
First produced at Buddies and reworked now as part of the company's 25th anniversary season, Real Live Girl draws on the writer/performer's own life and fascination with the feminine. The songs include I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, Diary Of A Homecoming Queen and I Enjoy Being A Girl.
"I've always intended that the show would evolve constantly, and Buddies has given me a long-term commitment to the project. Artists don't always get it right first time around, and returning to the material lets me go deeper into it, linking song and monologue in a more honest and concrete way."
Buddies plans to tour it across Canada next year, a first for the company.
Atkins has added new material, including a monologue for a teen mall girl who's about to graduate high school and isn't sure what she wants to do with her life because she doesn't yet have a dream. And given the way the show unfolds, that sense of fear and excitement she has will generate a different song than we heard before.
"The show comes out of my questioning whether I am allowed to be a certain way," Atkins recalls. "Doing it in front of people said that those feelings are OK, and the audience's positive response was an actual relief I felt in my body. Now I can go further."
And doing it this time of year?
"It's a great Christmas show," he enthuses, "because it's affirming and inclusive and funny. And kinda weird."