Vampires and drag queens: it oddly starts to make sense

With shows like Twilight and True Blood all the rage, it isn’t hard to see why Vancouver’s Once Upon a Theatre chose vampires as one of the themes for the company’s 20th production.  But a mash-up of vampires and drag queens?  Oddly, after a couple emails with Artistic Director Ashley Lambert-Maberly, Priscilla, Queen of the Damned: Drag Queens vs. Vampires starts to make sense.

Priscilla, Queen of the Damned: Vampires vs Drag QueensSimply put, said Lambert-Maberly, the titles of the drag queen movie and the vampire movie fit together so nicely.  It is the same rationale that Lambert-Maberly had with one of his previous shows:  Anne Murray of Green Gables (for those that missed that particular show it was the “heartwarming story of a middle-aged pop singer adopted by hardworking PEI farmers”).

It’s pretty obvious that Lambert-Maberley doesn’t take himself or his plays too seriously and it is probably one of the reasons his shows have been playing now for years with little sign of letting up.  That, of course, and the fact Lambert-Maberley claims he and his group, and apparently his audiences, are just having so much fun.

“Some people have told me being in these shows has been the best experience of their life,” said Lambert-Maberley.  “And people in the audience, who must not get out much, have told me this is the most fun they’ve had at the theatre”.

And given some of the group’s previous undertakings, like the Anne Murray mash-up or perhaps the combination of Annie and Sound of Music, or even farm animals and velociraptors (we kid you not!), it isn’t hard to see why everyone is having so much fun.

But more than just mash-ups of two seemingly disparate themes, fairy tales and fantasy are something that Lambert-Maberley has always been drawn to.

“My favourite works of fiction are Middlemarch and Vanity Fair, but also To Say Nothing of the Dog, Bridge of Birds, and Howl’s Moving Castle … and it just seems natural,” he explained.  “I’m much more alarmed by the fact that some people, like my mother, can’t enjoy the genre.  She thinks it’s not real.  Guess what, Mom?  Elizabeth Bennett’s not real.  Oliver Twist is not real.  Bridget Jones is not real.  Oh well”.

Beyond the fact that this latest show features drag queens, Lambert-Maberley is on record as describing his shows as “completely gay”.  We asked him to elaborate.

“In so far as there’s a stereotypical gay sensibility,” he explained.  “I’m in accord with most of it, but no neckerchiefs though, and I don’t swish.  But I love Bette Davis movies.  I’ve actually never dressed in drag, not even for Halloween, so this is a new experience.  So my mostly stereotypical gay sensibility infuses my shows.”

And it is in this gay sensibility, we are convinced, that we can take him at his word that those attending Priscilla, Queen of the Damned: Drag Queens vs. Vampires will indeed see “a fun-filled, overacted campy musical with a new song every couple of minutes and a fast furious pace”.

Priscilla, Queen of the Damned: Drag Queens vs. Vampires
Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island
16 – 19 June 2010

Transylvania’s only modern musical theatre group battles the undead in this uproarious mashup up of musicals and monsters. It takes a queen to fight a queen, so when the Vampire Queen next door abducts the second soprano section, a trio of cross-dressing crowd-pleasers turn hero and wage war. To reserve tickets e-mail ashley.lm@ubc.ca or call 778-322-7182. Tickets are $20, and $15 for seniors, students, and children (and $15 for the preview night).

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