On the Townsend

The League of Red Herrings
June 17-19
Queertopia ’10
June 24-26
Soft Core
June 26
Bedlam Theatre
501 S. 6th St., Mpls.
(612) 341-1038

Bedlam is a Pride hotbed once again.

Award-winning dance trio Mad King Thomas will be introducing The League of Red Herrings.

Tara King of Mad King Thomas explains, “We’ll be delving deeper than ever into gender and queerness with a slew of new characters, drag influences, and our perversely funny take on authority.”

Last year, the Queertopia variety show moved to Bedlam after its first three years at Intermedia Arts. Queertopia ’10: A Celebration of Queer Love unites artists of different ages, cultural backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, and artistic disciplines. You can expect drag and music, as well as commentary on the suffocating limits society wraps around love and its very definition.

Curator Jeffry Lusiak states, “We’re creating a new Pride tradition.”

Perhaps the hottest Pride performance is the Pegasus monthly party night at Bedlam, debuting Soft Core, which honors favorite adult entertainers. Feel free to dress up like your favorite Soft Core star—stilettos, lace, and nurse costumes are suggested. Gay Pain is the DJ. Guest artists include Misty, Sissy, and Muscle Twitch, a troupe of local queer gals hoofing dance routines to tunes old and new.

Queer Girls Nite
June 25-26
Patrick’s Cabaret
3010 Minnehaha Ave., Mpls.
(612) 721-3595

Legendary Patrick’s Cabaret always glories in original spontaneous work. Program Director Arturo Miles has been seeking out talent for Pride season.

Miles relates, “Queer Girls Nite is an open-call cabaret. It is the third in our GLBT series. Six artists will perform throughout the evening—a mix of burlesque, modern dance, hip-hop dance, music, and poetry. We aim to bring together a diverse representation of the lesbian community. Being an open call, there is also the element of surprise. You never quite know what to expect from these shows.”

Dance of the Pink Flamingos
June 17-27
Ritz Theater
345 13th Ave. N., Mpls.
(612) 436-1129

Ballet of the Dolls is infamous for its irreverent spoofs of already-irreverent films, but its take on gay Pink Flamingos, directed by gay icon John Waters, may take the cake.

Choreographer Myron Johnson warns, “It will be XXX-rated, but full of good times and laughter for those of you who find seedy, bad-taste choreography funny. I know I do. Inspired by my long-lasting ‘best friend in my head,’ John Waters, I am looking forward to creating dances for ‘the lady in the playpen who is waiting for her love, the egg man’; ‘the lady in the butcher shop who carries her purchases in a place where the sun don’t shine’; and many, many more wonderfully naughty characters representing the seedier side of life—all to a great sound track from the ’60s and ’70s, songs that I guarantee you have never heard before. John Waters had a deep influence on my love of real-life people and characters doing real-life things, but in a very over-the-top, raw way. I remember the day I realized that his characters were not that far from reality. I was maybe 15 years old, and I looked around at the world. My life was not like John Hughes, but John Waters. Sound fun? It will be. Nothing like a trained dancer with a raw steak between her legs!”

June 11-27
Illusion Theater
528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls.
(612) 339-4944

Kevin Hansen and Steven Meerdink were named this column’s 2006 Best Musical Actors for La Cage Aux Folles, Jerry Herman’s gay groundbreaker. Now, in another Herman marvel, Meerdink is directing, and Hansen is “charming” the husk right off the corn, this time in the title role of Mame herself. It has been 55 years the original source, bisexual Patrick Dennis’s novel Auntie Mame, was published in 1955.

Hansen confesses, “Let’s face it: What gay man hasn’t dreamt of playing some of Jerry Herman’s most famous characters? Steven and I had a great time working together on La Cage Aux Folles, and it might be a surprise to learn that there is a common approach to preparing for the characters in both shows. Specifically, they need to be true and honest characters who simply find themselves in some bigger-than-life situations.”

Meerdink notes, “She demonstrates that it’s not worth sacrificing one’s identity, no matter what that identity is. Gay or straight, we can all see Mame as a heroine with personal integrity and a penchant for justice. She fights against intolerance and injustice.”

As Auntie Mame says, “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily
Through July 3
Park Square Theatre
20 W. 7th Pl., St. Paul
(651) 295-7005

The appearance of master gay playwright Oscar Wilde in Katie Forgette’s play helped sell David Mann on directing it.

Mann shares, “I immediately said yes. It’s utterly hilarious, in large part due to the spot-on depiction of Oscar Wilde. It was written only a few years ago [2008], but it captures the essence of Arthur Conan Doyle’s great Sherlock Holmes stories, adding to it the presence of Wilde. He’s presented as a friend of Holmes and British actress Lily Langtry—another historical character in the play—and gets himself entwined in the plot concerning stolen jewels and kidnapping. Forgette brilliantly captures Oscar Wilde’s characteristic wit and turn of phrase.”

How synchronistic that Craig Johnson portrays Wilde. In the actor’s first Park Square show ever, he played Algernon in Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Johnson enthuses, “I am thrilled to get a chance to play Oscar! What drama queen wouldn’t be?”

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