I was left to lounge about my apartment with its Old French whore décor in a black wig acting like a brunette, dreaming of a life on the stage. Photo: Michelle Emerson
The one outlet I cannot seem to break into in SLC is the theater –– probably because the scene is so T.I.R.E.D.! I was hoping to fill this niche in my life this summer when I received an offer to audition for a show called The Great American Trailer Park Musical that is happening at the Egyptian Theater this fall. I was going to try out for the roles of either the stripper with a past or the fading beauty who was agoraphobic and obsessed with the Ice Capades. I could have played both of these from life experience alone.
I worked hard to prepare for the audition and when the day came, I went and sang my little tranny heart out for the panel of humorless gays and felt very quickly that they thought I was not taking their fierce theatrical production seriously. GOD, lighten up, Marys. The best part of the audition was when I was leaving and the next hopeful arrived, a Meatloaf/Richard Simmons lookalike in a Jazz-about. How fast would you buy a ticket for a show with ME falling in love with THAT?! As expected, I didn’t even get a thank you, let alone a callback, so again Salt Lake will be plagued with yet another predictable piece of crap lacking any irony. All the while, I was left to lounge about my apartment with its Old French whore décor in a black wig acting like a brunette, dreaming of a life on the stage.
It’s no big surprise that I was a giant drama fag in high school (my bachelor’s is in theater) and when I left Salt Lake, I acted in a number of troupes that were solely focused on the cutting edge. One was called the Sick and Twisted Players. We would do stage plays of movies like Carrie or The Omen live. Sometimes we would take two shows and mash them up into one like Survivor Gilligan’s Island or Nightmare on Elm St. 90210.
Another troupe, called Tuck and Role Players, wrote original rock operas. In one of these I played Marie Antoinette in our version of Dante’s Inferno. The premise of this show was that a drag queen named Dante was electrocuted during a fierce lip-sync and had to climb the levels of hell while passing the most famous women in history. My favorite level was Lucrezia Borgia’s day spa, where travelers of hell were invited in for an exhilarating kitty litter scrub followed by a once-through in the tanning ovens imported from East Germany. Genius!
The last theater troupe I was involved with is something that I would love to get started in Salt Lake. We were called TV Land and did the pilot episodes of classic television shows as stage plays. My acting abilities were challenged to their limit with roles like Chrissy in Three’s Company, Ma in the Golden Girls and Crystal Carrington in a coma for our Christmas Dynasty show. Obviously not amazing feats of theater, but creative and fun to watch damnit!
An old friend of mine from my Utah Shakespearen Festival days in Cedar City is coming to town this month with his show fresh from the Fringe Theater Festival in New York. I thought I’d give him a call in hopes that some of his creative juices might wash over me and maybe get my padded ass out there to create the stuff I want to do.
Steven Fales is an actor/writer/producer, who is mostly known for his autobiographical one-person plays (The Mormon Boy Trilogy), cabaret acts (Mormon American Princess, Songs of My People) and stand-up comedy (When All Else Fales). The Mormon Boy Trilogy includes Confessions of a Mormon Boy, Missionary Position, and Who’s Your Daddy? and is meant to play in repertory. Each 90-minute show is a comprehensive, epic exploration of what it is to be a gay Mormon American at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
I went and saw Mormon American Princess at the Tavernacle and left about four songs into it when he did a Broadway version of “The Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. JAZZ HANDS! Even though it was pretty tired, I have to give it up to him for pushing the envelope with his subject matter. I am not sure why he is loved here so much, because it seems to me that all his material is something that would be received better by the ever-curious outsiders not privy to the Mormon way of life. One thing I think is very daring, though, is that in Missionary Position, which is scheduled to play September 23-28 at Rose Wagner, he will be reenacting sacred temple rituals. Fales must be super brave.
I asked Fales why he thought there was such a lack of creativity in Salt Lake’s theater scene and his reply was that he feels it’s tough here due to the struggle of trying to get the gays to support your success. Once you can get the homos off their jealously trip, you have to give it your all. If there is one thing they love to do, it’s knock you off the pedestal that they put you on. No wonder I don’t actually try to put something together! If any of you out there would like to try it, call me for an audition. I will be at home waiting in my Jazz-around with Meatloaf Simmons just aching for a bit of creative, ironic theater, dahling.