REVIEW: The Book of Merman

August 10, 2011 5:00 am0 comments

altDoor-to-door missionaries might leave you an unconvinced non-believer, but after a night at The Book of Merman, you’ll be a devoted follower of Varla Jean. 
In a hilarious nod to the Tony Award winning musical The Book of Mormon, Merman returns to the Art House stage showing why she is the drag superstar she is, by grabbing the spotlight in a devilishly clever way. Funny, quick, and smart, The Book of Merman is a must see.
The show is classic Merman. Accompanied on the piano by Tom Judson, Merman (a.k.a. Jeffery Roberson) takes the audiences on a madcap journey through the twisted genius of Varla’s mind, bouncing from enemas to classical opera to the “gerbil” urban legend to bed bugs. Merman’s comedic writing and performance talents are amazingly presented through an incredible vocal range. Picture Brunhilde meets Ann-Margret meets Gracie Allen meets Divine. From operatic arias to an Oprah-style give-a-way you won’t soon forget,  to a finale featuring Varla’s own Mormomesque magical panties, The Book of Merman is a wild ride.

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Second To No One: Mimi Imfurst

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altMimi Imfurst and her pal Jesse Volt are sitting in Rock ‘N’ Joe coffee shop in Millburn, New Jersey, waiting to place their order, wearing sequined dresses, high-sculptured wigs, and the signature make-up of drag queens. That’s when the waiter approaches and says, “You should be ashamed of yourself. Does your father know you do this? You’re disgusting. It’s despicable what you do.”
Thankfully, the bigoted waiter is an actor and this is a produced scenario on the ABC television show What Would You Do?, which creates situations with injustices or illegal activity to see how everyday people unaware they are being filmed will react.  The majority of patrons during the experiment come to the drag queens’ defense. And when all is said and done, it’s not just a statement on attitudes of the general public towards drag queens, but also a testament to the varied career Mimi Imfurst has already had – and she hasn’t even turned 30 yet.  Her resume is about to lengthen again as she makes her Provincetown debut with Barely Living Legends at Vixen this Carnival Week.
“It’s something I’ve wanted for a really long time,” says Mimi of her upcoming Provincetown show.  “For drag queens that do more theatrical work, it’s something we all aspire to.”
Mimi’s Provincetown run is also the premier of Barely Living Legends, in which she takes on the tabloid culture of our country with impersonations of the sensationalized trials and tribulations of Casey Anthony, JonBenet Ramsey, Anna Nicole Smith, Teri Schiavo, and more.

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The Trials and Tribulations in the Sordid Life of a Southern Baptist Sissy

August 4, 2011 7:26 pm0 comments

How many times have you seen Sordid Lives?
Chances are if you loved it the first time you saw the cult classic “dark comedy about white trash,” you’ve seen it multiple times since. The film about a young gay man going home for his grandmother’s funeral in West Texas ran for 96 weeks in Palm Springs kicking off a Rocky Horror Picture Show-like phenomenon with audiences shouting lines and dressing like their favorite characters. Here in Provincetown the film opened early in June for a week’s run, but with several sold-out shows a night it screened all the way to Columbus Day Weekend. 
Written and directed by Del Shores, who the Los Angeles Times dubbed the “grand master of the Texas comedy,” Sordid Lives launched the award-winning playwright and filmmaker into the hearts and minds of fans nationwide.  And now he’s bringing his one-man show Del Shores: Sordid Confessions to Provincetown, where he tells it all: the good, the bad, and the raunchy as he kicks off his national tour.

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It’s Never Black and White

7:19 pm0 comments

“I’m from such a politically liberal family and I myself am so liberal that I know liberals and their foibles; I know them very well and the one thing I hate is ideological thinking on the right or the left. I think it’s so destructive,” says Sebastian Junger as he boards the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. We’re speaking by telephone about his upcoming appearance at the Wellfleet Public Library as part of Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill’s Tuesday Lecture Series. Junger plans to discuss his experiences in Afghanistan, his recent New York Times editorial, and the loss of his friend and colleague, Tim Hetherington, with whom he directed the Academy-Award-nominated documentary Restrepo.
Junger is known for what might be called a kind of “macho journalism,” in the sense that he has made a career covering dangerous situations at close range. His first book was The Perfect Storm, a New York Times bestseller about Gloucester fishermen who were lost at sea in a major storm in 1991. He followed it up with Fire, a collection of works Junger wrote about some of the most dangerous places in the world – Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, etc.  And then there was A Death in Belmont, which looked at the murder of Bessie Goldberg during the Boston Strangler years in his hometown of Belmont, Massachusetts. Most recently, he wrote the book War and co-directed Restrepo, both about the war in Afghanistan.

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From Beethoven to Brubeck

7:10 pm0 comments

The Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival Returns To The Outer Cape.
“It’s amusing, really, when you think of it,” says Elaine Lipton, executive director of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. “We have no building… but we have three pianos!”
That’s hardly surprising: from its inception 32 years ago to this summer’s festival, the organization has been about access, about opening up venues all over the Cape so as to offer the best in chamber music to the most people. Pianos are, indeed, more important than concert halls!
One of those pianos is a Steinway in the First Congregational Church in Wellfleet, where four of this year’s concerts will be held; another one is at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, which will host one concert. And all of them sound well worth attending!
“I’m very excited about this year’s festival,” continues Lipton. “We have some extraordinary young performers bringing the absolute best in chamber music—the kind of music that you expect to hear in New York and Paris and Tokyo – right here to us on the Cape!”

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Peter Pansy at The Crown and Anchor

July 28, 2011 5:49 pm0 comments

A bitter fairy, a chronic masturbator, and the gayest boy in the world who might have the “clap” sounds like an average crowd on any given night in Provincetown, and it is. But it’s also the cast of characters in Peter Pansy, this summer’s riotously twisted production by Ryan Landry and the Gold Dust Orphans.
This take on the fabled J.M. Barrie story is classic Gold Dust Orphans: wickedly funny and devilishly creative with a take-no-prisoners script. Flamboyant Peter Pansy flies into the Boston townhouse bedroom window of the Darling children – Wendy, Michael, and John – with his fag hag Tinker Bell in tow.  With a little help from some “pixie dust” (read as a “bump of cocaine”), they all fly off to Provincetonia, a magical and mythical land full of pirates, mermaids, and a whole lot of power bottoms.  The closet case Captain Hook wants to rid the town of these sodomite menaces, while Tinker Bell plots to ditch Wendy, who just can’t stop going “down below.” All the while the ferocious Vagisaurus threatens the town and the tick-tock of the crocodile that took Hook’s limp-wristed hand haunts the minds of those that seek to de-gay the tragically hip Lost Boys.

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The Winter’s Tale at Payomet

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It’s been called one of Shakespeare’s “problem” plays, but there were very few problems with Payomet Performing Arts Center’s production of The Winter’s Tale, currently on stage in North Truro.
Much of the production’s success rests on the shoulders of Ben Griessmeyer playing the twin roles of Leontes and Autolycus. While other actors have portrayed Leontes’ paranoid perception that his pregnant wife is having an affair with his friend Polixenes (Nathaniel Hall Taylor) in an approachable (if somewhat panic-stricken) manner, Griessmeyer’s Leontes is, quite frankly, losing it. He’s almost immediately convinced of the infidelity and just as quickly allows a dark and unbalanced side of himself to emerge. “You lie, you lie!” he snarls at Camillo, who protests that Hermione has not in fact betrayed the king. “I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee!” Killing his wife, his friend, and his child are thoughts that come easily to him; and he deftly brings the audience along with him, allowing them to share in this evil craziness.
A frightening Leontes indeed; but Griessmeyer is just as captivating when he moves into comedy as an amazingly over-the top Autolycus, delighting in his own prowess at villany —“what a fool honesty is!”— and not above a self-deprecating remark or two about his situation and his future.
Sometimes marred and occasionally enhanced by the extremely loud ongoing flapping of the Payomet tent in the high wind thoughout the performance, the play moves the audience from gasps of surprise and even fear to delighted laughter.

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A Pirouette in Provincetown

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Dance is a rare form of entertainment in Provincetown, especially in the summer, so The Patrick Notaro Dance Project is an exciting addition to the seasonal line-up. The August 3 – 7 performances at The Provincetown Theater will feature a program of classical and contemporary ballet, and a special Children’s Dance Camp for young people of varying ages during Family Week. 
Founder and namesake, Patrick Notaro promises, “There is something for everyone, from the balletomane, (ballet enthusiast) to the curious.”
Notaro founded the organization in the summer of 2010. His husband of 21 years, Gregg Saulinier, serves as managing director, and plays a key role in the success of the company.  On the subject of Gregg, Patrick takes a deep breath and sighs. “Gregg does so much work for me. Running a dance company is a huge project and Gregg and I do it alone. Gregg not only gives me emotional support but does all the marketing and promotion. I am the creative person so I’m all over the place. Gregg organizes me,” he says.
Notaro fell in love with dance at the age of nine, but growing up in Clinton, MA, he didn’t have the opportunity to take classes. For a classically trained dancer, he started late in life, at age 19. Notaro notes, with some residual amazement, “I went to college for one year and said, ‘Forget it. I’m gonna be a dancer’.”
So at age 19, without ever having taken a dance class, Notaro began his training and eventually became an accomplished dancer. He has performed with such renowned companies as the Boston Ballet, Oakland Ballet, and the Cincinnati Ballet.  He retired from dance at age 42 and transitioned into a second successful career as a well-respected instructor and dance coach. In 2005, his young students at the Cincinnati Ballet’s Otto M. Budig Academy took first place at The America Grand Prix Ballet Competition in Chicago.

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A Night at the Opera

5:22 pm0 comments

There is a distinct possibility that when you read the headline to this story, your mind automatically thought of stuffy, arrogant, and noticeably plump opera singers and an even stuffier, pretentious audience. But David McCarty, Artistic Director of Cape Cod Opera says the idea that opera is something only for the rich, the self-designated “cultural elite” is simply not true.
“Most [opera composers], like Shakespeare, wrote for the people,” he asserts. “I believe the really great composers wanted their work heard and wanted it understood by the people that surrounded them, the people of their day,” he says.
“If that’s true, then what about the exorbitant ticket prices?” you might protest. Again, McCarty has an answer to that perception problem – the Cape Cod Opera is coming to Provincetown and if you want the best seat in the house, it’ll cost you no more than $25.
This is all part of the mission of Cape Cod Opera, which makes its Provincetown debut on Monday, August 1st, after entertaining audiences in other parts of the Cape for close to two decades, including 15 years of fully staged operas.

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My God, My God Why Have you Forsaken Me?

July 17, 2011 3:05 am0 comments

Walking in to the Parish hall everyone hushed. They were all staring at us. They all had these frowns and wrinkled foreheads. The kids just stared blankly at me. And I hated it. I wanted to leave. I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to be Jesus anymore. Hugs. Mumbled [...]

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