5 February 2013

My top five shows to see in the anniversary Mardi Gras Festival

Almost impossible to belief that the 35th Sydney Mardi Grass festival is about to begin. This year the program leans more to the quality than content trend with favourites returning and some exciting shows playing for the first time.

I’m excited and looking forward to three weeks of fabulous GLBT slanted culture. For all the details visit www.mardigras.org.au or pick up one of their cute little programs and get out and enjoy.
What am I looking forward to the most you ask – well this is my five must see for 2013.
Hats Off
Leading the start of the festival is one of my all-time favorites and never to be missed - Hats Off!  This wonderful gala variety of musical theatre and cabaret stars gathers to raise funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS and since 1997, Oz Showbiz Cares / Equity Fights AIDS Inc. have raised over $750,000.  Since 1997, Oz Showbiz Cares / Equity Fights AIDS Inc. has raised over $750,000 for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV and HIV-related illnesses.       Since 1997, Oz Showbiz Cares / Equity Fights AIDS Inc. has raised over $750,000 for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV and HIV-related illnesses.Since 1997, Oz Showbiz Cares / Equity Fights AIDS Inc. has raised over $750,000 for critically needed services for people with AIDS, HIV and HIV-related illnesses.
This year is just bound to be special featuring the iconic, timeless and landmark sounds with Hats Off! to the Classics. Including hits from Motown, Disco and every Broadway show, Hats Off! to the Classics promises to be a dream evening for everyone who enjoys the delightful world of musical theatre.
Expected to appear this year are David Harris, Josie Lane, Stephanie Grigg, Deborah Krizak, Monique Salle, Fiona Sullivan, Tom Sharah and of course the always wonderful, Garry Scale. Topping the bill is theatre royalty Nancye Hayes and Toni Lamond with classic Broadway showstoppers.
Taking host duties this year are the fresh and fab Chloe Dallimore and Josh Horner and along with the shows ambassador, winner of Channel 10's I Will Survive Mike Snell the lineup promises to kick the festival off with one huge bang of celebration.
Tina Arena
After four sold-out performances in Sydney last year, Tina Arena is returning to the Mardi Gras Festival for an encore performance with her Band and the magnificent Sydney Symphony conducted by young Melbourne conductor Nicholas Buc.
Tina Arena is one of our most successful international recording and performing artists with a career spanning four decades and millions of album sales worldwide; at this show she sings all her hits and a few wonderful standards.
Tina is once again joined on stage by Anthony Callea, Aria Award winner best known for his record breaking single The Prayer, who will sing two outstanding duets, including The Prayer with Tina.
Tina Arena has been a long time friend of the Sydney GLBT community and has performed at many of our celebrations including several of the Post Parade parties, Sleaze Ball’s and the closing of the Gay Games celebrations. She will be the perfect headliner for this our anniversary festival.

Torch Song Trilogy
Making the most hype in lead up to its opening is the Tony Award-winning Torch Song Trilogy which returns to Sydney for Mardi Gras 2013 in a bold new production directed by Stephen Colyer (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Paris Letter, Hello Again). Funny and poignant, Harvey Fierstein’s intensely personal collection of three works chronicles a Jewish New York drag-queen’s quest for love, respect and a life of which he can be proud.
Gaiety Theatre, who play at the small Darlinghurst Theatre have over recent years really given the Festival its dramatic soul – if anyone can bring this 80’s play of 3 and a half hours to life for today it’s this company and Stephen Colyer.
Stephen has assembled a strong cast, led by the experienced and acclaimed Amanda Muggleton with Simon Corfield, Thom Jordan, Mathew Verevis, Christian Willis and Belinda Wollaston.
The search for love, family and acceptance is a universal story and this classic gay play fits well with this festival’s focus of ‘Generations of Love’, I’m looking forward to seeing it in this new light.
Beautiful Thing
British playwright Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing comes to Sydney for its 20th anniversary as part of the 2013 Festival. This exciting new production, directed by Brandon Martignago, tells the story of an urban fairy-tale of two young men who find each other on a London housing estate.
Beautiful Thing is a love story between two young men coming to grips with their sexuality and the effect it has on the people in their lives. It tells the story of teenager Jamie's relationship with classmate and neighbour Ste. Together the two boys find comedy, warmth and the music of Mama Cass through their loud-mouthed next door neighbour Leah.
Many will remember the wonderful 1996 cult film version also written by Harvey but revised from the play and how it heavily featured the music of the Mama Cass Elliott.
This is our chance to see the story in its original form but still at its heart is the story of what it means to be sixteen, in the first flush of love and full of optimism – good for all our souls me thinks.      
In Pursuit of Glamour
This is billed as a one woman show with a supporting cast. It’s one of the shows we’ve been waiting to see for years. Dallas Dellaforce is the creation of Daniel Cater and has been part of the Sydney scene for just over ten years now. It’s been an evolving, ground breaking and inventive career to date – all of which will spill into In Pursuit of Glamour.
Dallas is drag queen and performance artist, cleverly mixing both or showcasing the singular. Daniel is an extremely creative soul trained in fashion and design and is the best example of the artist who won’t be pigeonholed.
Dallas is a DIVA winner costume designer, has showcased in a RHI Mardi Gras party show and appeared in every season of the show DRAG at the Sydney Opera House. Dallas headlines mainstream and alternative nights – it’s this that makes the idea of In Pursuit of Glamour such a must see this festival.
Appearing with Dallas is Lillian Starr, Betty Grumble, The Amazing Ari and DJ Sveta. This show will blend performance art, drag, burlesque and multimedia, whilst drawing heavily on the themes of fashion and popular culture. Guessing this will be special and we’ll be talking about it forever.
So that’s where I’ll be over the next three weeks, sipping champers in foyers, taking in our community vibe and enjoying all our wonderful local talent. Happy 35th Mardi Gras Festival to all - enjoy!  

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