With Tops and Bottoms on hiatus, queer improvisers and those that love them have had to look elsewhere for their improvisational theatre fix. Come January though, the genre is resurrected in a production of The Gay Mafia at the Jericho Arts Centre.
With “The Don” of the gay mafia looking to retire, each night of The Gay Mafia’s run he will gather his mob bosses and test them with a variety of improv games to determine a successor.
“It is much like the Tops and Bottoms show,” explains Dan Dumsha (pictured left here with other members of the cast) President of the Queer Arts Society and one of the actors who will vie for top spot each night. “But instead of voting at the end of the show, it is The Don who will pick the winner.”
Adding a level of difficulty that Tops and Bottoms didn’t have, the show will also include an improvised musical in the second half each night with a live pianist.
“The musical in the second half is an exciting addition to the show and adds a new level of danger to the improv. It definitely raises the stakes” says Dumsha.
That danger level is what keeps actors coming back to the improvisational format as they are able to flex their acting muscles inside its unscripted format. It is also what keeps audiences coming back as no two shows are ever the same.
“The only thing that is actually scripted is the concept and that each of the actors knows their character names,” explains Dumsha whose own character, the mob boss Sandy Bay, runs a bathing suit racquet. “You can’t buy a bathing suit at English Bay without buying one from Sandy Bay,” he laughs.
Danger also comes in the Queer Arts Society’s decision to move the show outside the Davie Village where Tops and Bottoms was presented for the last several years. Despite the new venue having yet to be proven though, Dumsha says they are not too worried about finding their audience.
“We’re touching a different audience, a theatrical audience by moving this show to Jericho,” says Dumsha. “Look at The Cobalt as an example of how they have been able to create queer art outside the Village. It will be interesting to see if we can activate the queer community here.”
The success of The Gay Mafia will no doubt play a part in how the Queer Arts Society goes about resurrecting Tops and Bottoms, something Dumsha says has landed on his plate.
“Since I was elected as the President of the Queer Arts Society one of my tasks was to re-launch Tops and Bottoms,” says Dumsha. “We’re talking to a couple of venues now.”
No doubt he is just waiting for an offer he can’t refuse.
The Gay Mafia
Jericho Arts Centre
2 – 12 January 2013
Visit http://www.queerarts.ca for tickets and information.