The 27th Midsumma Festival kicks off this weekend with the 2015 program featuring 141 events across 100 venues spanning exhibitions, performing arts, live music, film, literature and community events. Arts Review takes a look at 15 events worth checking out:
fortyfive downstairs: 21 January – 1 February
Michael Griffiths isn’t going to let turning 40 stop his prolonged adolescence. His really prolonged adolescence. Join him as he recalls touring in jukebox musicals, falling in love and why he can’t go ten pin bowling. Featuring songs from Jersey Boys, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and lots of his first love, 80s pop!
The Butterfly Club: 22 January – 8 February
Will Hannagan transforms from kale-crunching North Fitzroy twat to Hollywood golden boy gone bad. He’s LiLo meets Miley, only gayer: a drug-addled club-kid on the road to redemption after a vacuous life of excess. A Disney child star, a pin-up of Uncle Sam’s, corrupted by the pop machine.
Gasworks Arts Park: 3 – 7 February
Black Faggot – the sensation of the Edinburgh, Auckland and Melbourne Fringe festivals will make Midsumma audiences laugh, cry and believe in the power of love as colourful characters collide in a series of hilarious and poignant monologues. Written by award-winning Samoan-Kiwi playwright Victor Rodger in response to the Destiny Church protest around New Zealand’s Civil Union Bill.
Cartooning with Pride
DT’s Hotel: 28 January – 7.00pm
The comic book industry has had a profound effect on the development of LGBTIQ culture as we know it today. Join us for a fun and informative evening at DTs Pub as we talk comic books, how they have influenced our lives, and how you can become involved in this growing industry. Featuring a panel of special local, interstate and international guests that include: Sonja Hammer, Jimmy Twin, Queenie Chan, Andrew Li, Michael Son, and Kenton Penley Miller.
Finucane & Smith’s Caravan Burlesque… Wilder West!
The Substation: 5 – 14 February
Direct from playing to 10,000 people in the streets of Sao Paulo, from smash hit sell-out seasons in Paris, Sydney Opera House, London, Tokyo and Buenos Aires, the world’s most indefinable divas descend on the velvet ballroom of The Substation to bring you a smoking hot salon like no other. Wild child circus, smouldering songs, live art exotica, demon dance, jaw-dropping, eye-popping, electrifying acts.
Harvey Milk the Opera in Concert
St. Kilda Town Hall: 7 & 8 February
Harvey Milk made history by becoming the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in America. Ten months later, having secured the city’s first gay rights ordinance, Harvey was shot and killed by fellow city supervisor Dan White. Presented in association with the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus and featuring six of Melbourne’s most exciting operatic talents, Left Bauer Productions is proud to present the Australian premiere concert performance of Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie’s ground breaking opera Harvey Milk.
Jim Morrison: Kaleidoscope
fortyfive downstairs: 21 – 25 January
Acquire a psychedelic glimpse into the curious mind of a rock ‘n’ roll revolutionary that crashed through the speakers of the 1960’s with the illicit music of The Doors. A one man circus takes centre stage as Luigi Lucente treats the audience to an unforgettable evening channeling the inimitable Jim Morrison; poet, prophet, shaman and showman.
Jumpers for Goalposts
Red Stitch Actors Theatre: 19 – 25 January
Red Stitch presents the return season of Tom Wells’ blissfully funny romantic comedy about friendship and finding your way. Meet team Barely Athletic. They’re part of the gay, lesbian and transexual football league in Hull. Luke and Danny are hot for each other, but Danny has a secret. Token straight Joe is happy in goal but Geoff wants a headline gig. Viv just wants to beat the lesbians to the league title. Game on!
Chapel Off Chapel: 21 January – 8 February
Exploring the subversive world of Gertrude Stein: her capricious love affair with language, with self-expression, and with her lifelong companion Alice B Toklas. The musical follows Stein from her student days in the late 19th century to the height of her artistic era in Paris and beyond.
Gasworks Arts Park: 21 – 31 January
Hamish is a 17 year old from rural Australia, whose parents don’t seem to understand him. The school bully seems to be gunning for him and his best friend Aaron wants more from him than he may be able to give. Silvertop Ash is the story of gay teen suicide and one boy’s struggle for acceptance. Written and Directed by Wayne Tunks.
Brunswick Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre: 21 January – 7 February
Callie’s holding down a job as a radio traffic reporter in New York when she meets Sara. Although both women are “straight”, as they get to know each other an unspoken attraction pulls them closer, and finally they kiss. One innocent kiss while walking through the West Village late one evening. A kiss that sets off a savage gay-bashing. But even as Stop Kiss confronts the reality of this raw, violent act, Diana Son’s imaginative, moving, and surprising comedy takes her characters and audiences to unexpected places.
The Art Of Being Still Part Two: The Gathering of Vampires
David Williamson Theatre: 21 January – 14 February
Steven Dawson’s ground-breaking The Art Of Being Still first premiered in Australia in 1991, playing to sell-out crowds in Melbourne and Sydney. Now comes the much delayed but highly anticipated sequel as six friends journey further through the plague years, from a world of camp sites, show tunes and saunas to boot-scooting, funny funerals and more. You don’t need to have seen the original to come on this powerful journey.
Footscray Community Arts Centre: 27 – 31 January
An exposing, funny and tender look at queer and trans relationships, the bold visions we have and our often hilarious struggles to live up to them. Run-ins with the anti-monogamy police about jealousy, online dating mishaps and figuring out whether to throw out or reinvent mainstream relationship ideals all combine in a smart, fast-paced take on dating in an age of social media and technology.
Twists and Turns
Arts Centre Melbourne: 30 & 31 January
Well known for his Olympic gold medal status (among other assets), Matthew Mitcham brings to the stage the ups and downs of a ‘perfect life’ in his one man show, Twists and Turns. Despite reaching international prominence, Mitcham was plagued by mental illness, drug abuse and struggles relating to his sexuality.
Arts Centre Melbourne: 6 & 7 February
The fabulous Rhonda Burchmore unleashes the ‘Vixens of Vinyl’, channelling the best divas of our time including Marlene Dietrich, Bassey, Cher and Chrissy Amphlett to Madonna, Kylie, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Lady GaGa, with just a hint of Berlin cabaret mixed with the boldness of burlesque – the sultry ‘Ms B’ invites you to an adventurous evening of ‘sublime sensuality’.
The 2015 Midsumma Festival runs from Sunday 18 January to Sunday 8 February. For more information, visit: www.midsumma.org.au for details.
Image: Will Hannagan in Affluenza