Queer and here
Want an entertaining slice of queer 20th-century history?
That's what Buddies in Bad Times promises in its season opener, Arthouse Cabaret, a vaudeville-style show that moves through the Buddies space just as it moves through time.
"Producer Jim Lefrançois and I wanted to shift away from the kind of curated one-off and festival that focuses on a single agenda," says artistic director David Oiye. "We invited a number of people we'd previously worked with to choose an element of queer culture that appealed to them -- a moment in time, an icon, a personal perspective -- and that they could present in their own fashion.
"We then arranged the acts in a loose chronological order and asked designers Daniele Guevara, Shadowland and Adrien Whan to transform all of Buddies into a performance area."
So expect anything from Princess Di's funeral to an early 20th-century balloon dance, Noel Coward songs to gay marriage, Tom of Finland to Stonewall to inspire the artists.
Oiye and Lefrançois have brought in a group of talented performers, including burlesque divas Sasha Van Bon Bon and Kitty Neptune; the Beefcake Boys' Shane Mackinnon and Montreal's 2boystv (Stephen Lawson and Aaron Pollard), who'll play with high-end lip-synching divas of the operatic sort; singer Paula Wolfson, pianist Jonathan Monro and Random Order's Lynn Phillips.
"The first act in the cabaret is a kind of piano bar," notes Oiye. "The tone changes in the second act with Judy Garland's funeral and the Stonewall riots. By then we're in the Chamber, and there's a different feel in terms of music and social statement.
"We think of the cabaret segment as a front for the establishment, while for the second we move into the illegitimate part of the evening."
This is the first time that Lefrançois and Oiye have collaborated artistically as devisers and co-directors, but it's not the first time that the evening's MC, Keith Cole, has appeared on the Buddies stage.
"We think of him as the evening's Auntie Mame," smiles Oiye, "greeting people, introducing them and inviting them to partake of the evening's pleasures."
This is the week the theatre season goes off with a bang - there are seven openings between Thursday and Sunday - and the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) celebrates with a free show, prizes and a high-powered marketplace touting the season ahead.
On Monday (September 24) TAPA sponsors Kaleidoscope, with performances by the Turtle Gals, Erika Batdorf, cast members from The Prince Hamlet and a dance work by Piotr Raymond.
The event at Yonge-Dundas Square also includes ticket giveaways at the T. O. Tix booth, and more than 30 dance, theatre and opera companies will be on hand to provide info on their upcoming shows.
Can't get enough of the Fab Four? Acting Up offers a cabaret that blends rock and musical theatre, with a focus on the tunes of the Beatles.
You'll hear Eleanor Rigby, Lady Madonna, Something and other favourites performed by Thom Allison, Dean Armstrong, Kyle Blair, Steven Gallagher, George Masswohl, W.J. Matheson, Sharron Matthews, Eliza-Jane Scott, Jennifer Waiser and Patricia Zentilli.
Lots of talent there, both in the writing and in the performing.