The Dead Robot review of DQ: Dames

Queer stuff, Toronto

I was invited to the Friday night gala of DQ: Dames at the Hart House Theatre and I’m extremely suprised at the quality of production the actors and volunteers are presenting. So much so, I’m going back tonight.

I have to admit that I’ve seen some pretty low moments in DQ’s history via hand held, pre-digital video and I was a bit apprehensive about sitting through 2.5 hours of semi-obscure show tunes. From what I gleaned from these videos, DQ was a night of Casey House workers, volunteers and other influential community figures, crammed into dresses and paraded on stage, so they can flub a few lines and leave those who are “with it” laughing knowingly. Dames had very little “inside” jokes and actually relies on a loose story line, spanning a lifetime of showtunes and classic Hollywood musicals from vaudevillian 20s onwards, to keep us engaged. The story is loosely based on Mame, genetically implanted with Best Little Whore House while doing crack with Bob Fosse. It even took a moment to parody itself in a Ziegfeld-esque parade of tacky outfits and drunk, confused drag queens missing their cues. In the past, DQ was 90% lipsynced, just like a regular night at the 501. This time around, the cast sings nearly the entire show live (save for a couple Drag King vignettes) while full on dancing, which shocked the pants off of me. Who knew half these performers could sing? Why haven’t they sung live sooner? I’ve always said that I’d enjoy a drag show if the women displayed more talent than mouthing the words to a tired Celine song and putting on a frock found at Value Village.

Damn I miss Peggy Legs, performance Drag Queen from the mid-90s. But I digress.

I had the opportunity of meeting with the director, Graham Maxwell, at the cast party and he revealed a history of Cruise ship/Club Med performances. He has brought an invaluable talent of getting every last bit of talent from professional and volunteer cast members in a short period of time. The sustained standing ovation at the finale was greatly deserved, however a more definitive “ending” might be in order.

The techical problems with the microphones hopefully will be ironed out by now. God bless Holly Wood for being able to belt out her part without one. And my only artistic critique would be to ask why during the ’40s wartime segment, the ensemble does the “Robot” (Sharkboy explained it to me but I’m still a bit confused).

The show runs til Saturday night (with a Sat afternoon matinee). I cannot recommend this show more. It’s a great cause and worth more than the $45 tix being charged.

UPDATE: I’ve heard some rumblings that people didn’t like the format of this year’s show and wanted the old DQ back (skits and lipsyncing with outrageous costumes). To these people I say: Go to a Tuesday night at the 501, bitches. This format is miles better. I have to give my head a shake when stuck-in-the-mud people can’t accept anything new. (says the middle aged/middle class white guy)

0 thoughts on “The Dead Robot review of DQ: Dames

  1. Anonymous

    I completely understood his need to show hundreds of people his underwear in the name of chairity.

    Lord knows he’s done it for free.

  2. macster

    As to SB losing his pants to a DQ – he got to keep the DQ’s skirt. I think he liked it. 😉

    PS: Stop crowding me!

  3. SharkBoy

    it’s even sadder when those people told you to your face they really liked it… to turn around and tell others a different story…
    But apart from 2 people that felt that way, all I keep getting are great comments…
    All people have to remember is that it’s a fundraiser for Casey House… regardless of the format of the show… Those who don’t like it can just give their money to the charity and skip the show next year, that way everyone will have a good day…
    I’m just saying!!!

  4. BusDriver

    But how does DR feel about SB losing his pants to a DQ?

    Overall I give DQ Dames 5 stars.

  5. HappyBritchic

    I can’t wait to see SB on stage, hope you have just as much fun tonight as you did the last time…