Comedy, chaos, cabaret, and some real characters – you can expect it all as the Rainbow Room overtakes the Sydney Opera House for three exclusive nights as the unofficial festival club of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.
With four different shows dispersed over three evenings, audiences can pick and choose from a variable buffet of world-class performers. Highlights include Gretel Killeen and her plethora of extra special guests in Smart Arsing, and a drag style ode to famous female screen duos with Gentlemen Prefer Blokes.
We caught up with Gretel and drag queen extraordinaire Trevor Ashley. Trevor will be joined by long time collaborator and fellow queen Courtney Act on the Studio stage for Gentlemen Prefer Blokes, the revival of a cabaret double act in which the pair embody a series of famous female screen duos.
“It starts from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and sort of bounces on from there to other famous female duos… Of course Courtney decided she had to be Marilyn Monroe and I got stuck with the horsey old Jane Russel!” Trevor explained, laughingly. “It’s a hoot, and the costumes are beautiful…”
“Courtney and I work well together because we’re basically the complete opposite to each other…she drinks tea and goes on silent meditation retreats and I drink buckets of wine… We sort of take the piss out of each other and out of ourselves while we do it. We have a really, really great time together,” added Trevor.
Trevor has been heavily involved in organising and performing in Mardi Gras events for many years, and Rainbow Room is no exception, as he co-produces the series with Wendy Richards.
Gretel Killeen has also been a gay rights advocate from a young age. For Smart Arsing, she will be reprising her popular role of the Minister for Men from last year’s hit web series created by Kacie Anning and Ideas at the House. After being unceremoniously fired from politics, the egotistical Minister takes it upon herself to star in her own low-budget TV talk show.
Killeen has summoned “between one and 100” guests to join her in this variety endeavour ranging from comedians to politicians, drag queens to journalists and “other ratbags”. She explained: “…as someone who has been extremely independent, it has been amazingly heart warming to have these people come on board and share the load… it’s going to be a lot of fun!”
Each show will feature a varied bakers’ dozen of a cast including (but not limited to): Ray Martin (legendary journalist), Jordan Raskopoulos (lead singer of comedy band Axis of Awesome), Jenny Leong (Greens Member for Newtown), Alex Greenwich (Independent Member for Sydney), Panti Bliss (Irish drag queen and “accidental activist”), a yet-to-be-named American comic, and many more – accompanied by “fabulous heavy metal band” Lillye as the Minister’s studio band, and a collection Gretel’s friends from her years of voice-overs who will lend their highly recognisable baritones to the “ad breaks”.
The Rainbow Room will also host an All Star Drag Revue featuring “some of Sydney’s most famous drag queens from past and present”, along with Marney McQueen in Rosaoke, a hair-larious cabaret about Celebrity Bikini Waxer Rosa Waxoffski.
From the outset these shows invite you to laugh, but in the spirit of Mardi Gras the sparkles and smiles are accented with the essence of something deeper. “I really do think that entertainment is a really great conduit for opinion, and I think if we’re laughing we [more easily] take things on board and identify with it, because we’re more open,” said Gretel.
“It’s a really fun night at the Opera House with hours and hours of entertainment!” added Trevor. (AM)
March 3, 4 & 5 (Smart Arsing 7.15pm, Gentlemen Prefer Blokes 9.15pm). The Studio, Sydney Opera House. $30-$70. Tickets & info: sydneyoperahouse.com