If it wasn’t for comedy legend Sandra Bernhart, Montreal may never discovered the hilarious talent that is Tranna Wintour.

“When I discovered Berhart’s revolutionary one-woman shows a couple of years ago, I was transformed. It turns out comedy was what I had been looking for all my life,” Wintour told me via email this past weekend, “I’ve always dreamed of being a performer in some form, but I didn’t know how to express it. Once I came to that realization, I was able to start putting things into motion and finally find my voice as a storyteller.”

And thank goodness she did. After discovering comedy and a Halloween costume became a full-fledged stage persona, the trans comedienne known as Tranna Wintour was born. “Who I am on stage is the real me–a more glamorous, sassier version of the real me,” Wintour said when asked about the certain New York City fashion editor that inspired her stage name.

Tranna Wintour - Trantasy - Fringe 2015-59

Tranna is a proud transgender woman. Anyone watching her stand-up or following her social media posts can tell that immediately. So how does she feels about the attention transgender people have been getting in the media recently? “I do worry that the recent media coverage makes the transgender experience a kind of novelty,” Wintour said.

Wintour continued by saying “not everyone trans woman has the means to look as good as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox 24/7. And not every trans person wants to undergo a physical transformation. The transgender experience is unique to every trans person. When I’m not wearing makeup or a wig, I look like a boy. But I don’t ever feel like a boy. Regardless of what I look like on the outside, my spirit is female.”

This year Wintour made it on a few of Cult Mtl’s annual “Best of Montreal” lists, including best Instagram in the city. While Wintour admits she uses social media very little in her personal life, for her career it’s key. “I use social media as another means to entertain people. It’s an extension of the work I do on stage,” Wintour said, “it allows me to entertain and engage my audience when I’m not performing on stage.”

Those performances include the buzz-worthy 2015 Fringe show Trantasy. “My Fringe 2015 experience was absolutely magical,” Wintour said, “my favorite part of the show was performing an acoustic version of Taylor Dayne’s Love Will Lead You Back arranged by my friend Anis. I performed it on the last two nights of the run and it was probably my most favorite thing I’ve ever done on stage. I also want to give a big shout out to The Wiggle Room team who made my run so smooth and wonderful!”

Tranna Wintour - Trantasy - Fringe 2015-45

Up next for Wintour is the show My First Time at Zoofest, which opens on July 9th. The show is hosted by Darren Henwood, and showcases Canada’s up and coming comedy talent.

“There are so many local comedians I love, they know who they are, but I must give a very special shout out to the comedians I’ll be performing with at Zoofest–Darren Henwood, John St. Godard and Tommy Marshall,” Wintour said, “I am so freaking excited and honoured to be in a show with these super talented guys!”

It’s always exciting to see a Montreal talent on the verge of becoming a big deal. And with all the glamour, hard work and positive energy Wintour has put into her career, she deserves to become the kind of successful diva she admires so much. And not as a novelty, but as a celebration of the fabulous disco-loving woman that she is.

* Photos by Reese Turner

Don’t be confused; there’s nothing macabre about the show Die Mutter. And no, this isn’t a new mounting of the Bretolt Bretch play. (although there is an obvious German influence).

Instead the name refers to the hilarious sketch comedy stylings of the Toronto duo Noemi Salamon and Deborah Ring. And after seeing their show you will most definitely be in a very good mood.

From life coaches to Shia LeBeouf to club bitches, no one is safe from their brutal mockery. The skits range from absurd to hyper sexualized to witty commentaries on how, as the ladies so delicately put it, “white people are the worst.”

Even the weakest skits are smarter than entire other Fringe shows (that will not be named obviously) and produce a chuckle. The strongest skits will have you laughing out loud.

While the show is most definitely NOT kid appropriate, the appeal of their zany sketches, it seemed, was not solely that of a 20-30 something hipster. People of all ages were in attendance at the Montreal Improv, and all laughing in equal measure. If only it were possible to raise Christopher Hitchens from the dead to show him that he was quite wrong; women can indeed be very funny.

While the Montreal Fringe is now over, make sure to check them out next time you’re in Toronto!

Comedian Walter J. Lyng brings his popular local talk show “Night Fight” to the 2015 Fringe stage. Teaming up again with his musical director Leighland Beckman, the duo engage in all your typical late-night talk show activities… with a twist. (Yes, a knife makes an appearance!)

You have your “politically correct” monologues (last night was about the Charleston shootings, you know a topic that lends no way to being insensitive), awkward banter (both with each other and the audience!), musical guests (aka some delightfully filthy music provided by Beckman), and the popular “Top 38” (This list was “Worst Ice Cream Flavours” which included totally enticing flavours like Vanilla Vag).

None of the pre-mentioned gags that I happened to catch on Thursday will be spoilers for anyone else who wants to check out the show. As with any talk show the jokes and guests change with every performance. I hope the commercials they play during the “commercial break” moments, though, don’t change, because they’re ridiculous, in the most amazing way possible.

While this was my first ever Lyng/Beckman performance, it’s easy to tell the duo have been working together for a long time. They bounce their comedic energy off each other so seamlessly that it’s unsurprising they’ve been hyped as one of the best shows of the fest, and nominated for a Frankie for best English comedy. Check out this show while you still can!

The Shiner is a charming one-woman show about the two selves we have inside us at all times; the adult and the child. Performed by Katie Legitt and directed by Al Lafrance, this show crams thirty-odd years of experience into one solid hour of storytelling. And like any good story there’s moments of happiness and sadness, silliness and wonder.

Just like LaFrance’s last Fringe show The Quitter, The Shiner relies completely on the ability of its star to captivate the audience. Whereas Lafrance relied on his snarky wit, Legitt brings her own unique strengths to the table. For Legitt this means demonstrating her passion for her day job as a spiritual animator, as well as being able to transform into a naïve, scrappy version of her younger self.

Legitt does both masterfully. Kudos also has to be given to the scriptwriting; the show has just the right amount of younger/older self to balance the serious/silliness aspect. Too much of either and the show would have veered off course. What a pleasure to see a strong woman who embraces the pain of the past and the passion for her work and literally turns it into a work of art!

Some shows this week: Suoni per il Popolo continues, Fringe POP outdoor show at Parc des Amériques, the Montreal Infringement festival and B.C. metal band Bison returns for round 2.

FRIDAY, JUNE 20

Infringement: Crazy Knows Crazy + Richard Lahmy + Realms of Bliss + The Extract @ Barfly

Show starts at 9 p.m., PWYC.

SATURDAY, JUNE 21

Fringe POP: Syngja + Kurvi Tasch + Medhi Cayenne Club @ Parc des Amériques

Show starts at 7 p.m., PWYC.

Infringement: Psynlangwage + Lucky Lex + Jay Manafest + Nikolai KUSH + Drop D @ Le P’tit Cabaret

Show starts at 9 p.m., PWYC.

Amen Dunes + Alex Calder + Syngja @ Casa del Popolo

Doors open at 10 p.m., $10 in advance via Blue Skies Turn Black or $13 at the door.

SUNDAY, JUNE 22

Fringe POP: Le Trouble + Athens + Hua Li + Look Vibrant + Nanimal @ Parc des Amériques

Show starts at 4 p.m., PWYC.

Bison + USA Out of Vietnam + Vile Intent + Xothogua @ Turbo Haus

Doors open at 8 p.m., $10.

Infringement: This is not [sic] @ Le P’tit Cabaret

Show starts at 10:30 p.m., PWYC.

MONDAY, JUNE 23

Geographer + Diamond Bones @ Divan Orange

Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12 in advance online via Indie Montreal or at L’Oblique, Atom Heart and Cheap Thrills; $15 at the door.

Over the past few years I’ve seen Australian actor/writer/producer Shane Adamczak perform several times in Montreal. From Edge of the City’s live podcasts to last year’s Fringe Festival, I’ve always found him to be a charming and interesting performer. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Adamczak, who’s currently promoting his new play Trampoline opening at Mainline Theatre on May 7th.

Hailing from Perth, Adamczak first came to Montreal to perform his Fringe Festival play Love Songs for Future Girl.

“What was meant to be a short stay turned into a much longer one than expected … a lot of that had to do with developing relationships with the folks at Mainline and Montreal Improv,” Adamczak said, “what I love so much about Montreal is the fact that it’s filled with so many like-minded people. People who embrace DYI theatre and telling stories. That’s what really made me want to stick around.”

A quick visit to Adamczak’s website shows the creative evidence of his time here; writing for the blog Bloody Underrated, putting on improv shows like Captain Spaceship, even producing a talk/variety show Up Late Live in his bedroom. While his time in La Belle province has been a productive one, unfortunately Adamczak admitted during our interview that it’s coming to an end. “Yes, after this year’s Fringe Festival is over I will be heading back to Australia for a while. After that I’d like to try living in the states, or maybe Europe… who knows! “

During his last few months in Montreal, Adamczak is enjoying being Mainline Theater’s artist in residence. What exactly does that involve?

“Hanging out a lot at Mainline, which is cool ‘cause when I’m in Montreal I do that anyways,” Adamczak joked, “but seriously being the artist in residence means Mainline helps you develop and produce your work, which in my case has been the show Trampoline.”

The press release for Trampoline gives a pretty straight forward blurb on what to expect from the play: “Matt is a dreamer. He lives in a world where fiction and reality are all mixed up. Kelly, the girl of his dreams, is beautiful, talented, funny, and she even has a trampoline. TRAMPOLINE follows their awkward and impossible courtship as Matt struggles to find what is most important to him and what reality it belongs in.”

Adamczak describes Trampoline as ‘his take’ on a romantic comedy. “The project started off as me writing a dream journal blog under a pseudonym while living here in Montreal,” Adamczak said, “after writing these blog posts for a while, I began to see a natural story line emerge from them. That’s when I saw the possibility of it becoming something more, and I started adapting the blog into a play. ”

Trampoline first debuted in Australia this past October, and now the North American premiere will be at Mainline. The show reunites Adamczak with two actors he’s worked with before; Stevie Pemberton, whom was Janet to Adamczak’s Brad in a production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Vance Gillis from Captain Spaceship.

While it’s unfortunate that Adamczak is moving on from Montreal, I sincerely hope that means he’s off to bigger and better things. I for one will make sure to enjoy him while he’s here and check out Trampoline, which runs until May 17th. For tickets, make sure to head to the Mainline Theatre website.

A couple of weeks ago, it was 7 o’clock on a Tuesday night and I was frantically running around Concordia, lost. I was supposed to interview the ladies of the Montreal theatre troupe Hopegrown Productions to chat about life as a young female actor and their play Around Miss Julie, (a meta theatre experience of sorts about a group of actors trying to put on the Stringberg play Miss Julie) which was showing as part of the Montreal Fringe Festival. Just as I was about to give up and call it a night, what should appear but an information kiosk! It appeared our interview was meant to happen after all.

And thank goodness it did! If I hadn’t made it, I never would have had the chance to meet with the three founding members of Hopegrown; Lindsey Huebner, Miriam Cummings and Samantha Megarry, who are all recent grads of the theatre program at Concordia University.

Hopegrown Productions was born when these obviously close friends were seeking quality material for female characters and the chance to continue working for people they trust and respect. They concluded that the best way to do this was to start their own theatre troupe.

“There was just nothing out there for young female actors that appealed to us,” Cummings said. “So we decided to start our own thing. That being said, just because we care about strong female characters doesn’t mean we’re anti-men or anything. We just want the same juicy types of characters as they do.”

Unlike many other artists I know, who decide they want to start a company but then smoke weed and go to bed instead, Hopegrown Productions have been working hard throughout the year to ensure that their current project was properly promoted and financed. Around Miss Julie is the troupe’s debut production. Written by Harry Standjofski, who taught the Hopegrown ladies while they were at Concordia, Around Miss Julie premiered at this year’s Fringe Festival. The play is scheduled for an international tour over the rest of the summer.

They launched an Indiegogo campaign and have been active on social media all throughout the year to ensure there was buzz about their opening at the Fringe.

“It’s kinda been scary, all the interview requests we’ve gotten about the show. Scary, but great obviously. It means our hard work has paid off,” Megarry said enthusiastically.

During our interview, the ladies couldn’t help but praise their professor for delivering them this incredible script to work with, noting how rare it is to find female characters who are “well rounded in all aspects, fully developed, three-dimensional women.” After the Montreal Fringe is over, the ladies will be performing the play at the Ottawa and Hamilton Fringe Festivals before capping it off with a trip to Scotland to play the original Fringe Festival in Edinburgh.

Around Miss Julie has been getting excellent reviews around the Montreal theatre blogs. I am super excited to have made this play a part of my final Fringe 2013 weekend. There’s one final showing today, June 23, at 7 p.m. at Club Espagnol (4388 Saint-Laurent). See the Hopegrown Productions website for more details.

Image from HopegrownProductions.ca

 

Urge For Going was on my list of I’d really like to see but I don’t know when shows. Luckily I arrived in the right place at the right time last night and ended up being pleasantly surprised. Urge For Going is a multidisciplinary show by Quality Slipper Productions written by Bekky O’Neil. Multidisciplinary can be a scary word when it comes to emerging artists, as often times it means they do many different things poorly. To their credit the cast manages to combine theatre, puppetry, music and animation into a well structured, well staged and overall smooth show.

Urge for going-020The story follows a sweet Prairie girl from Saskatchewan who wants to gain her independence and goes on a journey of self discovery. A true free spirit, she attempts to follow in the steps of Joni Mitchell and follow her dreams. She picks up her ukulele and leaves home meeting a diverse cast of talking animals, hipster bloggers and corporate wolves.

Probably one of the most interesting and impressive elements of the show was the puppetry as one of the main characters the protagonist meets is Henry the Fox. Besides being a voice of reason, Henry is a very cool looking puppet expertly voiced and acted by Cloe Saint-Laurent.

The show does a really good job at satirizing both the purity of being free (running around with your feet in the mud and living on a dairy farm in Vermont) and today’s modern uber connected tech world (hipster bloggers will write reviews for beer).

Overall this is a story of trying to grow up too fast which hits the right notes. Check show times on Fringe Montreal.

How do you review a group that has already impressed you three times? Do you talk about what’s new and then link to your old reviews? Kinda lame, and not something deserving of a highly original troupe like Glam Gam Productions.

Got it! Bring someone along who’s never seen them before, let them be the judge of what you’ve experienced before and then report on the new stuff. So, for the Little Beau Peep Show, I drafted my brother Joe.

Let’s start with the new stuff. Troupe founder Michael J. McCarthy kept his clothes on for the entire show! That may or may not have had something to do with his mother coming into town from New Newfoundland for the first time to see him perform.

I’m not joking. In fact, he wore more clothes than everyone else combined. Dressed as the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland, we didn’t even get a little leg or someone screaming “off with his clothes!”

That’s not the same with the rest of the cast…and what at cast it was. It seems like the Glamily grew over night. For what’s been said about inbreeding, maybe it’s not all that bad.

Seriously, though, it seems like the already ample Glam Gam cast from the last show is even bigger. Not only that, they’ve changed the dynamic, too.

This is a group known for a non-traditional, all shapes and sizes approach when it comes to what’s considered sexy for women. Now, it appears that they have extended that philosophy to men, too. Nice touch.

This cast spent their time on stage raunching up classic fairy tales, or moreover bringing those fairy tales back to their very sexualized and often quite violent roots. We get a male red riding hood and wolf tale, a carnivorous teddy bears’ picnic and the aforementioned and soon-to-be re-mentioned Alice among others.

What’s also new this time around is that instead of relying on just one emcee or pair of emcees as they have in the past, they rotated the characters doing the hosting duties throughout the show. And it made sense story-wise, too.

The first act was informally hosted by a brother and sister who can’t get to sleep after their babysitter Auntie Lipstick strips while singing, pretty much freaking them out.

Stripping while singing is an impressive feat on its own, it wasn’t the only live music in the show. There was an intimate choir, inspired by barbershop, comprised of Les Blow, Phoenix Wood, Rae Ocampo and Estelle de Pierre, that appeared throughout the show. Also, from my side-stage vantage point, I could see what looked like a small orchestra pit.

Anyways, when the brother gets taken away in the middle of the night, hosting duties switch to a witch played by Ellen Cherry Charles. She captures Eugene and, as she is preparing her brew, or rather preparing to add him to her brew, she starts telling stories.

These stories segway nicely into scenes like the comedy act of Blow’s Pinocchio (guess what grows when he lies) and McCarthy’s Gepetto (or GePedphile). We even get a puppet show. Yes, a puppet show telling the story of Rumplestiltskin performed by none other than Jizzika Unklein, Booze Crotch and Skyler Boushel.  Nice touch.

The third act saw brother and sister reunited and then some…more on that later.

Now, for the elements I’ve seen before, I turn to Joe. To sum up his experience, he was impressed.

He was amazed at the whole scene. I heard “bravo” and “yes” many times throughout the show. He told me that he was mostly impressed with how the narrative elements combined with the nudity and the way the whole cast seemed to be really enjoying performing the show.

After seeing some of the violence, namely in the red riding hood bit and the teddy bear’s picnic, he commented “they’re not fucking around!”

Indeed they weren’t. Joe noticed what I noticed the first time I saw this troupe: their no holds barred approach to performance and their outright love of what they were doing. A combination that is both rare these days and a hallmark of a Glam Gam show.

Unfortunately Joe had to leave before the last act, and what an act it was. Almost all of the cast were now playing cards. Their costumes were great, actually all of the costumes and sets in this show were professional and fantastic, with a real attention paid to detail.

These cards had one parody-tastic mission: “We’re painting the pussy red!” Seems the Queen’s spouse, facial hair-clad drag king Paquet , isn’t a real ginger. While that may have eluded McCarthy’s real redhead-obsessed Red Queen on their drunken wedding night, the cards weren’t taking any chances.

“Who’s been painting the royal bush red? Off with their head!” I’ll leave it at that.

This was a great Glam Gam show, and an amazing first-time encounter with the Glamily as it was for Joe. To be completely honest, though, my fave by them to date is still If Looks Could Kill, They Will. Guess there’s just something about a burlesque murder mystery that hits me the right way.

Good news is if you missed this show the last time around, they’re playing a few more dates at the Fringe Fest. Details and a few video trailers are on the Glam Gam website.

* Photos by Iana Kazakova. See all the photos on our Facebook Page

I don’t know about you fellow Montrealers, but I’m still pretty darn annoyed that we seemed to have completely skipped Spring. But as my mother taught me its always better to look at both sides of the situation; with the warm weather finally here, summer festival season is upon us!  Whether its stand up comedy, experimental theatre or Drag Queens riding tricycles, I will be spending my June in the Plateau and Mile End watching all the strange and fabulous things the 2013 St-Ambroise Fringe Festival has to offer.

After carefully examining this year’s Press Kit here are the events that I’m most excited to be checking out;

I’ve seen a lot of great comedy shows come out of the Fringe, last year for instance “God is a Scottish Drag Queen” was definitely my favourite thing I saw at the festival. This year there’s a couple of interesting looking comedy shows; “Alex Cross and His Rise to Fame” is one of the first shows that caught my attention, mostly with the shameless poster of a man on a cross with a bunch of hot chicks. A blatant grab for attention, yes, but I admit it was grabbed. The press kit describes the show as;  A talentless philistine sells his soul to the devil for fame and fortune. Follow Alex’s journey during his rise to fame until a conspiracy theorist exposes him and the satanic agenda behind the music industry. What would you give up for fame and fortune? Is this show going to be a satire or a giant mess? I’ll let you know.

I always enjoy watching Zach Adams on stage so this year I’m looking forward to seeing his new show ZACH ADAMS: ZACH TO THE FUTURE. Sillyness and charm is a combination that always works on me and this man’s got it in spades so I have every confidence the show is going to be great. I mean come on, read the description for the show; To find out if his career ever takes Weeping Spoon Productions program and websiteoff, Australian actor/comedian Zack Adams decides to travel through time to find his future self. In the year 2018, Zack finds himself on a comical, musical adventure involving a beautiful parking inspector, a man with two left hands and a 1979 Datsun. Plus how can you not like a guy who makes Back to the Future references?

I’m very excited to check out as many theatre shows as I can; I shamefully admit that as a film and television nerd the Fringe provide me with the very rare treat of going to the theatre. Some of the show’s I’ll be checking is “Around Miss Julie”, “Love in the Time of Time Machines”and “My Pregnant Brother” performed by this year’s Fringe Festival spokesperson Johanna Nutter. The play I’m most excited for is “Cross My Heart” which is described as “What is Love?  What if you could buy it in pill-form, like Viagra for the heart?  Or can you only find Love in your dreams?  Jim and Maggie are arch-enemies at work; but things are different on the Astral Plane.  Cross My Heart:  a romantic comedy with a twist.”  I may just be interested because I’m a sucker for a sappy love story but I also hope its a smart comment on love.

Along with smart plays with characters sharing their feelings, I also enjoy show where characters take their clothes off. (Then again, who doesn’t?) As always I will make sure to check out my friends at Glam Gam productions put on their 2nd Fringe play, the re-vamped “Little Beau Peep Show” and this year I’m also looking forward to seeing “ACME Burlesque”. Other events I’ll be checking out throughout the festival is visual art at Gallery Fringe taking part in drinking and watching a movie with the folks at Bloody Underrated with The Alcoholic Cinema.

By the time the festival kicks off with Fringe for All   June 3rd who knows if my festival plan will be the same, but that after all is my absolute favourite part of every festival. You do enormous research carefully reading through the schedule, and then when the festival actually starts you throw all your plans out the window and sees what actually comes of it. Make sure you check back here at Forget the Box throughout June to find out what adventures I embark on at this years Festival. Happy Fringing everyone!

My Exploding Family Photo Chris Zacchia

My exploding family
My Exploding Family on at the Fringe Fest – Photo Chris Zacchia

My Exploding Family as with many things from Japan, is weird. But it’s weird in a fun fantastical sort of way and will have you laughing and smiling throughout. The show is like a journey inside the mind of a 5 yr old child. Their world is filled with brilliant brilliant colors, bizarre sounds and expressive movements.Their imaginations have been left to run wild.

My exploding family
My Exploding Family – Photo Chris Zacchia

The 3 characters bounce around from one train of thought to the next all with the utmost fluidity. Even their movements are reminiscent of childhood as they laugh and play with each other & the audience. The language barrier doesn’t play any issues either as the sparing bits of dialogue are delivered with an adorable Japanese accent.

The show is written and directed by Yanomi, an award-winning Japanese performer, a.k.a. Miss Hiccup/Shoshinz.

Over all hilarious! You have to check it out!

Remaining dates:
Thursday, June 21, 2012 – 15:15

Friday, June 22, 2012 – 23:00
Saturday, June 23, 2012 – 21:00
Photos by Chris Zacchia
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My Exploding Family Photo Chris Zacchia
My Exploding Family Photo Chris Zacchia
Yanomi of My Exploding Family – Photo Chris Zacchia

 

My Exploding Family Photo Chris Zacchia
My Exploding Family Photo Chris Zacchia