Once Upon a Twisted Time…

May 16, 2012 5:00 am0 comments

Imagine if Mother Goose boogied down to disco, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves got jiggy wit’ it and Alice in Wonderland was best friends with Katy Perry.  That’s the idea behind Twisted Fairytales, a Las Vegas style fantasy show at Town Hall this weekend.  

Twisted Fairytales includes a cast of 18 with a mixture of drag queens, dancers, and singers in a fast-paced, elaborate stage show retelling beloved fairy tales to modern pop music. With live singing, spectacular costumes, professional lighting and sound, Twisted Fairytales is part of an effort by the Provincetown Business Guild to increase events in town, and to bring in new and exciting entertainment options to complement the town’s line-up of performers and shows.

“The whole idea is to do something different,” says Dennis Grundlock, producer of Twisted Fairytales and owner of MoonMaxx Productions.  “The shows in town are great! We just wanted to present something different, something out of the box.”

During Carnival Week last August, Grundlock produced Sizzle, a sensual musical revue, which received much praise.  The goal is for Twisted Fairytales to be the first in what the PBG hopes to make an annual spring tradition, in the same fashion as Broadway Bares in New York. In addition to raising money for the PBG’s efforts, a portion of the proceeds from the show will also go to the Miracle Providers Northeast, an organization that raises funds to assist children and families in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire affected by HIV and AIDS. 

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REVIEW: Sacré Bleu: A Comedy D’Art

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The official Christopher Moore Web site promises that, “Now, in his latest masterpiece, Sacré Bleu, the immortal Moore takes on the Great French Masters.”

The immortal Moore? His latest masterpiece? It’s an awful lot of hyperbole (written, one suspects, by the immortal himself) for a novel that’s amusing, sometimes witty, often coarse, and a great deal of fun. A terrific weekend read, absolutely; a masterpiece … well, you be the judge.

Readers who are already familiar with the Christopher Moore opus might remember Coyote Blue, and the two books have something in common besides the instance of color in their titles—in Coyote Blue, the mayhem centers around the Trickster of Navajo legend; in Sacré Bleu there is also a unifying theme centering around another “bad guy” — in this case, the color blue, which he also immediately identifies as another “trickster.”

A quick caveat: a friend once remarked that a certain group of people was difficult to hang out with because “if you don’t speak Latin, you miss all the good jokes.” There’s a similarity here: if you’re not familiar with nineteenth-century art and artists, you’re going to be playing catch-up from the start of the novel. Manet, Monet, Seurat, Pissarro, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gaugin, and Renoir all wander in and out of Moore’s pages as though they were completely at home with him. As, in a sense, they are.

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Q & A with Vickie Shaw

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Vickie Shaw just may be the funniest mom in America. Actually, she might be the funniest grandmother, too. Born and raised in Texas, Shaw brings the Lone Star State around the country as she continually tours showing that even the laughs are bigger in Texas. Shaw took some time to chat with Provincetown Magazine from her home in Houston to talk about her love for Texas, her son’s fashion critiques of local drag queens, and about Houston’s great lesbian, liberal mayor.

Provincetown Magazine: You’ve been coming to Provincetown for quite some time now. When was the first time you performed in P’town? 

Vickie Shaw:  Oh, it was many, many years ago. I’m thinking it was sometime in the early 90’s. Yeah, my daughter was 9 and my sons were 14 and 16. I was a single mom, not making a lot of money, living in Houston. I would take my kids with me on tour. I was doing two weeks at the Post Office. We stayed at a friend’s mother’s house in Orleans. For two weeks my kids and I would flyer all over P’town. We’d flyer the beach, up and down Commercial Street.  But you know, the kids still remember it as a wonderful vacation.  

PM: So it sounds like it all worked out for the best?

VS: Oh yeah. We were working hard, but they had a blast. My children love Provincetown. In the evening when the drag queens would hit the streets flyering, I knew that my kids were going to be alright when my two boys – these tall, six-foot-plus basketball players – saw this one queen. One of my sons turned to his brother and said, “I like that outfit on him,” and the other turned and said, “Yeah, its a good color on him.”  And Jimmy James was performing after me at time and he would take my daughter up on stage and sing to her. They all still talk about it. 

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…and BINGO is her name-o

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On a quiet, foggy spring night, where the chill of winter gives way to the hint of summer, Provincetown still seems weeks away from the crowds of tourists.  No one is around. It’s Wednesday, so even weekend visitors who may have stayed an extra day or so are gone.   But over the foghorn, a voice creeps its way into the sounds flowing down Commercial Street, much in the same manner as the fog.  Turning the corner at Masonic Place, it’s clear that the phantom voice is coming from down the alley.  As the door to the Little Bar at the Atlantic House opens for a man going outside for a cigarette, the voice becomes loud and booming.

“Seven-G. G, as in gorgonzola,” says the voice.

Like the song of the sirens, those captured by the voice cannot walk by without catching a glimpse of what must be a gorgeous exotic creature or perhaps the ghost of a good-time girl from another time breaking through the dimensional lines that keeps the past and present apart. But with a swing of the door and a peek into the Little Bar, lit with red Christmas lights, a tiny disco ball casting a fractured yellow beam and the mystical glow from the jukebox, all mysteries are solved. It’s Tiki Bronstein and she has balls in her hand. It’s Bingo Night at the A-House.

“Come on in darling and take your clothes off,” says Bronstein from underneath an auburn hairstyle native to Boca Raton, Florida.  “This game is brought to you by Lipitor, the word of the day is ‘pollock.’ And now a word from my vagina.”

Canned maniacal laughter fills the Little Bar, which is packed with folks looking over fresh bingo cards and shaking daubers ready for the next game, a round robin variation on the familiar American pastime. This isn’t your grandmother’s bingo.

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Merman the Medium

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When Varla Jean Merman hits a high note, it’s an out of body experience. The drag superstar and opera diva is famous for her campy shows, hilarious movie appearances, and her days of knocking back cans of Easy Cheese while singing one of her signature parodies. But in recent years, Merman (a.k.a. Jeffrey Roberson) has increasingly been making a name for herself as an opera diva performing Classical Varla, an annual night of opera to raise money for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod. And now Merman is dipping her high heel into the opera world again with the Provincetown production of the Gian Carlo Menotti opera The Medium, opening at the Art House this weekend. 

The Provincetown production of The Medium, produced by Counter Productions in association with Mark Cortale, will open in New York City at the Little Theater at the end of October, harkening back to the days when Provincetown was a preview springboard for theatrical productions before they headed to the Big Apple. 

“We are sitting on a can of dynamite,” says director Donna Drake. “I cannot wait to take this to New York and introduce the opera world to this diva.”

Famous for writing the opera The Telephone and Amahl and the Night Visitors, Menotti wrote The Medium in 1946 after receiving a commission from Columbia University. The hour-long, two-act dramatic opera features Madame Flora, portrayed by Merman, a bitter con artist who pretends to have supernatural powers that allow her to communicate with the dead. She holds a séance cruelly taking advantage of those who have recently lost a child, with the help of her daughter Monica and a mute servant boy, Toby. However, during the séance Madame Flora begins to truly hear voices from beyond, sending her into a panic and setting the stage for a thriller of an opera.

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The Poet In Motion

May 9, 2012 5:00 am0 comments


Nick Flynn on writing, memory, and The Fine Arts Work Center

Nick Flynn is shaving.  He has an engagement at the Rubin Museum of Art in downtown Manhattan along with psychologist William Hirst titled “Based on a True Story” to discuss memory.  Hirst studies it, Flynn makes it into art. 

An award-winning poet Flynn reached literary stardom with his 2004 memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City , which recounts encountering his estranged, alcoholic father while working at a Boston homeless shelter.  He followed it up six years later with The Ticking Is The Bomb: A Memoir, an exploration of  having children while the country is engaged in two wars.  His first book is now a film, Being Flynn,  starring Robert DeNiro,  Julianne Moore, and Paul Dano, as Nick. 

With the water running, there’s the sound of the tap of a razor with a splash. 

“Its something that I’m without a frame of reference, for me at least,” says Flynn, who was on set of the film’s shoot. “I don’t know many examples of having one’s life reenacted at such a high level.”

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From the Beatles to Brahams

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A Decade of Music with the Outer Cape Chorale


As spring rain forms puddles in the street, and gray clouds hide the blue sky above, it can be hard to see the beauty in things. But looking out the window of his Commercial Street home overlooking the Bay, Outer Cape Chorale director Jon Arterton admires the beauty of the ever-changing view. 

“The other day we saw a fox running along the beach,” he recalls as he grabs a pair of binoculars to get a better look at a black shape in the distance.

Arterton moved to Provincetown in 1993. It was several years later, in 2002, that he found himself “semi-retired” and wanting to return to conducting, in which he’d majored in graduate school. Serendipitously, the Provincetown Choral Society found itself leaderless when Betty Kelly, who’d led it for 35 years or so, decided to call it quits. It was under these circumstances that the Outer Cape Chorale was formed.

The Outer Cape Chorale celebrates its tenth year with performances of Johannes Brahms’ beautiful Ein Deutsches Requiem this month and in the fall, a program of Stephen Sondheim favorites. It is this range of material that has made the Chorale an incredibly popular group, and their biannual concerts eagerly anticipated.

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The Bitter Cup of Bragan Thomas

May 2, 2012 5:00 am0 comments

After a particularly trying day of rehearsals for his role as Erronius in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Bragan Thomas went home frustrated and despondent. It had been a terrible day. He poured himself a glass of orange juice and prior to drinking exclaimed: “Oh woe is me; God has given me a bitter cup to drink,” recalls Thomas with a wonderfully theatrical recitation. “And then I thought, ‘a bitter cup’, that would be a wonderful name for a play.”
Desperation turned into inspiration, and that night he wrote the first draft of A Bitter Cup, a short play chosen as part of this year’s Spring Playwrights’ Festival at the Provincetown Theater, May 4-6 and the following weekend, May 11-13. While Thomas is a member of the newly assembled board of directors of the Provincetown Theater, his inclusion into this juried festival is the result of an invitation and not self-promotion, he adds. The fast-paced mystery was well received by the festival judges for its sense of suspense and action.
“There are four characters and only one remains at the end of the play,” says Thomas. “ It’s action packed. I’ve been told it’s Agatha Christie meets Oscar Wilde meets Alfred Hitchcock. It’s a lot of fun.”

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REVIEW: Me & Orson Welles

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Richard Linklater made his name as a unique filmmaker with his second feature Slacker (1991), a film that spoke to the generation for which it was named. Subsequent films like Dazed and Confused (1993), Before Sunrise (1995), and Waking Life (2001) furthered his reputation and broadened his appeal. But in the early 2000s, he  shifted focus with more mainstream films like the remake of The Bad News Bears (2005), the funny, but generic School of Rock (2005), and now another Jack Black starrer, Bernie (2012). As part of the filmART series, programmer Howard Karren has chosen a Linklater film that falls somewhere in between his quirky early work and current Hollywood fare – Me & Orson Welles (2009) starring Zac Efron, Claire Danes, and Christian McKay.
The film takes place in 1937 and follows a young boy from New Jersey named Richard (Efron), who aspires to be an actor on the level of John Gielgud. While hanging out in Manhattan, he comes upon the famed Mercury Theater and manages to get himself a part as Lucius in Welles’ upcoming production of Julius Caesar. As the rehearsals go on, Richard learns about life, love, and the nature of creative genius. As an audience, we get a sense of what it may have been like to be in the theater in New York’s heyday and also to be around the brilliant Welles as he was just starting to make his name (this is several years before his cinematic masterpiece Citizen Kane and two years before his famously terrifying War of the World radio broadcast).

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Review: The Three Stooges

April 25, 2012 5:00 am0 comments

by Rebecca M. Alvin It’s hard to imagine anything more ridiculous than the Three Stooges. The slapstick trio who got their start in vaudeville managed to maintain and grow a fan base over several generations through the short films made for Columbia Pictures and their endless presence on Saturday morning [...]

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