Monday, January 3, 2011

Dearie Awards 2010: Stage Show of the Year - THE DIVINE SISTER

2010 saw a lot of great GLBT friendly shows come and go on and Off Broadway. However, no other show exhibited the sheer gleeful hilarity of Charles Busch’s comedy The Divine Sister. Based on any and every movie where women wear wimples (not to mention The Da Vinci Code and Tea and Sympathy), The Divine Sister was a fabulous return for Busch (and longtime friend and co-star Julie Halston) to his Theatre-in-Limbo roots, where he gave life to such camp classics as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Psycho Beach Party.

Set during the same mid-sixties period as Doubt, The Divine Sister celebrates more innocent nun-centric favorites like The Sound of Music, The Singing Nun, The Bells of St. Mary’s, The Trouble With Angels and its sequel, Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows, not to mention Agnes of God. Plus, the whole production design looks like a period Catholic School play (convent bricks made out of kitchen sponges and a chandelier made of plastic forks and spoons spray painted gold? Brilliant!).

When asked to comment on his win, Busch responded, "I love Movie Dearest and I'm sincerely very honored to have my play The Divine Sister chosen Best Stage Show." The Divine Sister was the funniest thing to hit the Catholic Church since the Crusades, and we are happy to bless it with a Dearie Award.  (Tickets are available through February, but since January is a tricky month for productions, it’s the perfect time to see this divine production. Visit the show's official website for tickets and more information.)

Honorable Mentions:
After a woozy revival starring Robert Goulet, it was a bracing breath of fresh perfumed air to see La Cage aux Folles once again on Broadway... and once again win the Tony! British comedian Douglas Hodge recreates his West End triumph, reinventing the character of Zaza... think Ricky Gervais in drag with killer pipes. Kelsey Grammer was his understated foil, and Les Cagelles were a leaner, meaner group of queens with major attitude. "The Best of Times" is indeed now at La Cage aux Folles, but it may get even better: come February, Harvey Fierstein and Jeffrey Tambor will star!

The hit of last year’s New York Fringe Festival, Devil Boys from Beyond was a lovingly vulgar send-up of 50’s sci-fi movies, McCarthy-era politics and His Girl Friday. Playwright Buddy Thomas and director Kenneth Elliot set their raunchy romp in 1957 Lizard Lick, Florida, where the beer-bellied Bubbas are being replaced by studly muscle hunks from beyond Uranus. Their horny housewives couldn’t care less; they’re thrilled with their new diet of beefcake. It’s up to tough-talking Mattie Van Buren to uncover the surprising reason for this alien sexual invasion.

With an all-male cast that included the amazing Andy Halliday, a Charles Busch Theatre-in-Limbo alum, and a show-stealing performance from the brilliant Everett Quinton of Charles Ludlam’s Theatre of the Ridiculous fame, Devil Boys from Beyond was a welcome return to the gender-bending Golden Age of the 80’s Off-Broadway. Along with The Divine Sister, Devil Boys proved that drag theater is as funny, fierce and fabulous as it ever was. Watch the skies for Devil Boys from Beyond: a regional production is opening this weekend in Phoenix and at other theaters throughout the US.

Click here for Neil's original review of The Divine Sister.

By Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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