by Steve Desroches
Tim Murray might not defy gravity in his comedic homage show Tim Murray is Witches, but he’s putting a lot of mileage on his broom as he tours the country this Halloween season with what’s become a huge hit for the Los Angeles comedian and actor. While throughout history witches have been presented in all kinds of ways, from wicked to good, from ugly to gorgeous, from scary to hilarious, Murray loves them all. And with all of those different portrayals Murray sees the camp in them all, which makes them perfect fodder for a musical comedy drag show.
Ever since he first saw The Wizard of Oz and Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West, arguably the witchiest witch of them all, Murray has been fascinated by these ladies of the cauldron. “A lot of gay people love the Wicked Witch of the West,” says Murray. “I mean, she arrives in a puff of red smoke with this green skin and she’s pissed someone killed her sister. She may have been wicked, but she kind of had a point. And she wants the ruby slippers real bad, and she lives in a castle. She’s just so extra.”
Murray got the idea about a year ago when he stopped to think about how many of his favorite movies, TV show, and musicals, and those of his fellow gay friends, featured witches. The Craft, Hocus Pocus, the Broadway musical Wicked, Teen Witch, The Worst Witch, Bewitched, Bell, Book and Candle, Practical Magic, The Witches of Eastwick, Suspiria, Halloweentown, Sabrina the Teenage Witch; the list goes on and on of camp cult favorites with unusually large gay fan bases. Of course, any of these shows or movies have fans of all kinds, but there is a specific way that LGBTQ fans relate and express their affection for these tales of witchcraft.
“I think gay people have a lot in common with witches,” says Murray from Seattle where he’s on tour. “I think a lot of gay people, queer people experienced witch hunts when they were younger. People trying to find out who’s gay and out them. Gay people find each other, like witches form a coven, for support and to connect over what sometimes has to be a secret bond. Gay people are told all the time to hide who they are and not use their special powers, what makes them unique. Witches are gay as hell.”
So, Murray put on some green face paint and got to work, and this past summer he brought the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. The show features a delightfully wicked number of 13 famous witches with several musical numbers, audience interaction for a bit of improv, and a bit of heart and soul as Murray recounts how these inspirational witches helped him weather the homophobia he experienced in his youth in his hometown of Sandusky, Ohio. And at the world’s largest performing arts festival, where there are about 3,500 shows, Tim Murray is Witches earned rave reviews, sold out the entire run, and left with a festival award for Outstanding Musical Theatre.
After swinging through London and Glasgow, Murray took the musical romp through the land of witches on an American tour starting in late September in New York City. And wherever Murray has brought this pop culture heavy show, be it Fort Lauderdale, Denver, Chicago, Dallas, or Palm Springs, it has been a huge hit. But of all the dates on the tour, Murray is most excited for his Provincetown dates this Halloween weekend. This is not only his Provincetown debut, but his first visit to the Cape tip ever. Having lived in New York City for years prior to his move to Los Angeles, he’d of course heard about Provincetown and its queer and magical reputation. And year after year he’d hear about Halloween in Provincetown and how it was the absolute best to celebrate what many call Gay Christmas. Having Provincetown as his second-to-last stop before the closing show of the tour on Halloween night in L.A., Murray sees his chance to perform at the Crown & Anchor like getting a full-size candy bar trick-or-treating.
“I’m obsessed with Halloween,” says Murray. “I always have been. It’s my favorite holiday. Always has been. I was one of those kids that loved horror movies. And for some reason my parents let me watch them. I was one of those six or seven-year-olds who go to school and brag I saw Scream. I think there’s something that little gay boys like about powerful women. Cool, bad-ass chicks. Horror movies are full of them. Plus Halloween is for those that don’t fit in. It’s for weirdos. And it’s not like Thanksgiving or Christmas that are family-oriented. It’s a holiday where you gather with your chosen family.”
Tim Murray is Witches: A Musical Comedy Drag Show is at the Crown & Anchor, 247 Commercial St., Provincetown, on Friday, October 27 at 8:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 28 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets ($25 in advance/$30 at door) are available at the box office and online at onlyatthecrown.com. For more information call 508.487.1430.