Mardi Gras announces a luminous 2014 festival program

Bob DowneFrom the bright, sparkling and saturated to the mixed, blurred and occasionally understated – the 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is poised to deliver festivalgoers a kaleidoscope of colourful experiences, with a jam-packed program of cultural and community events.

Based on the creative concept of ‘kaleidoscope’, the three-week festival will offer up a slather of celebratory selections, with an array of free and ticketed events including fabulous parties; world-class cabaret, theatre and musical performances; premiere film screenings; all-inclusive community, social and youth events; interactive panel discussions; and unforgettable art exhibitions.

Australian Arts Review highlights some of the offerings within the visual and performing arts program.

Cabaret fans will rejoice as beloved gay icon Bob Downe returns to the Sydney Theatre bringing audiences his new production Bob, Sweat and Tears. Australia’s Prince of Polyester is finally manning up, performing a brand new bunch of classic hits and offering up a laugh-a-minute roller-coaster ride of shocks and frocks!

Direct from his sell-out West End run, and performances across Europe and the UK, cabaret star Trevor Ashley is bringing Liza home to Sydney in his internationally-acclaimed stage show Trevor Ashley is Liza (on an E). From her marriage to Australia’s song-and-dance darling, Peter Allen, to her notorious pill-popping and ubiquitous showbiz family, Liza (on an E) will dish the dirt on Liza’s extraordinary life like never before!

Courtney Act will entrance Sydney audiences in her hit cabaret show, Boys Like Me on the back of sold out seasons in New York and Los Angeles. Airing hysterical dirty laundry from her alternative sex life, including the angry text from that straight boy’s girlfriend – Courtney will share her observations of life on the gender divide, her journey through masculinity and femininity, and how all of these elements manifest when “boys like her”!

Other musical theatre highlights include Everything I know I learned from Madonna, a real and riotous comedic drama told through some of the material girl’s most famous lyrics; Oprahfication, a side-splitting multi-award winning cabaret about the world’s richest and most beloved talk-show queen; and Falsettos, a wickedly funny Tony Award-winning musical about the original modern family!

Peter Nichols’ Privates on Parade is an outrageously funny play, part satirical revue, part coming-of-age drama, is underpinned by a darker and more poignant reality. With music by Denis King, Privates on Parade is a camp concoction of song, dance, blokes in frocks and very naughty laughs.

Part exhibition, part performance art go-go, and part T-dance, lovers of visual art are also in for a sensory treat in the Day for Night exhibition – a collaboration between Performance Space and Mardi Gras which places Australia’s boldest queer artists in a durational performance wunderkammer, showcasing unique creative works before transforming into a large-scale dance party once the sun goes down.

Artistic highlights also come in the form of Ross Watson’s new exhibition, which contains celebrated artworks of seriously sexy surf twins, tri-athletes and gay icon Tina Arena; Inverto, a street art project along the backstreets of Darlinghurst featuring black and white photographs of an individual’s physical transition from female to male; and Outing Disability, a photographic exhibition celebrating sexuality, sex and gender diversity in the lives of people with disability.

Sure to be on the radars of all cinema-lovers will be the 21st edition of the Mardi Gras Film Festival, Australia’s leading selection of LGBTQI films. Presented by Queer Screen, the 2014 Festival will once again celebrate the best in queer filmmaking, offering up a diverse selection of Australian premieres and top-notch flicks from across the globe.

More of a muso than a film buff? Bertie Page presents: Pussy Love! – an electric mix of glam punk rock, frock, feathers and leathers! The show will feature the launch of the band’s brand new album Too Loud Too Naked, as well as a litter of Brisbane’s best burlesque kitties, with more slink, strut and sexiness than you can throw an old boot at!

For festivalgoers looking for a slightly more cerebral Mardi Gras experience, Queer Thinking 2014 will be an event not-to-be missed! This day-long set of talks and discussions will present a queer-tinged fusion of stories, ideas, literature and academia with LGBTQI leaders, activists and artists – all of whom will challenge the status quo and share their thought-provoking insights and experiences.

For more information and full program, visit: www.mardigras.org.au for details.

Image: Bob Downe

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