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Pride's gala opener a hit

Sat 9 Feb 2013 In: Events View at NDHA

Auckland Pride Gala Q Theatre 9 February 2013 - reviewed by Michael Stevens Pics thanks to Andrea! Well that was a hell of a good night. It was fun, joyful and happy. The great and the good of queer Auckland turned out last night to celebrate the opening of our new Pride Festival, along with all the rest of us. And yes, the dread spectre of that awful Hero Gala at the Civic years ago that dragged on and on and on and on and on was raised by quite a few people. This was nothing like it, thank God. Designed to offer us a taste of all the great shows that are happening over the Pride Festival, the acts came on , tantalized us with what they had to offer for a full performance and the audience loved it. Some acts were done by volunteers out of love and community spirit, and some were highly polished professionals giving us a bit of just what makes them so great. The variety was wonderful, and it bodes well if you are looking for queer entertainment over the next two weeks. The night was hosted by Young New Zealander of the year Sam Johnson who was cute in a kilt and a great MC. Mika and his Salon opened proceedings with his dramatic take on Adele’s “Skyfall”, powerful and strong as ever. Buckwheat, Tess Tickle, Venus Mantrapp and Dallas Vixen gave a great piece of drag artistry, and the red ribbons they wore were the only acknowledgment of HIV/AIDS made the whole night – how times have changed. The Boogie Woogie Bugle Gals from out West were great fun – who knew lesbians were such good horn players? NZ’s own Miss Ima Starr, now putting the mania into Tasmania, once more showed that as a drag artiste she stands out for bravura and fun and because she doesn’t lip-synch – Ima Starr can actually sing. And she sang with gusto and joy. Pride parade maestro Jonathan Smith with partner and right hand man Kevin Baker What I saw tonight showed that there is so much more to watch out for over the festival. The White Knights Marching Girls were spectacular, taking something so Kiwi down home as marching girls and so cleverly subverting the whole idea, and the same group of dancers added an even more erotic/exotic touch with their Horses act (no, nothing to do with Patti Smith). The taste of theatre we got with Black Faggot was hilarious, moving and left me wanting to see the show. Marie Sheehan with her backup singer Jessie Matthews was simply brilliant, as you’d expect from one of NZ’s great musical artists. She really was amazing. Of course there were oiled up shirtless boys The Urge Bears put on a taste of the parade, bringing out the chariot that Miss K rode in years ago, and the Downundergear Marching Boys showed us even more of what will be there next Saturday. Come the second half of the night and Queerlesque opened a new world of wonder, with acrobatics, wit, and jaw-dropping physical agility – and sexiness. They really were amazing – if that little taste is a good indicator of what they do then make sure you see them. Polyfilla showed just why she is so good at what she does with the little taste of Kitsch In Synch she gave us, probably the wittiest, piece of the night, and the visiting Aussie duo of Gobsmacked were hilarious and clever, I’m going to see their full show at the Maidment. I’m sure I’ve left some acts out, because there were so many – it’s like trying to remember the name of every chocolate in a mixed box. Read the Festival Programme and you’ll get all the details of what is on where and when. This is a great range of talent here for our Festival, so get out and enjoy it. Jacinda Ardern and Colin Mathura-Jeffree And the audience seemed to be a real cross-section of our world, all ages, shapes, genders, colours – it really did feel like “we” were there, that our community was back in touch with each other, and that is surely the point of any Pride Festival – to unite us and strengthen us, so kudos to all the hard work done by the Pride Committee in getting it up and running. It was wonderful to see our Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse there, along with Labour MPs Jacinda Ardern and Louisa Wall. Always great and sincere supporters of our Rainbow Communities. The night was fun, uplifting and a celebration. Yes, there were a few technical issues here and there, but hey, it gave us what it promised – a taste of what there is in the Festival, and it provided a wonderful fun night for us all. After the show the audience hung around laughing and talking, a real buzz in the air. You have to congratulate the organisers Lisa and Verity for pulling it all together so well. Happy Pride ! Michael Stevens - 9th February 2013    

Credit: Michael Stevens

First published: Saturday, 9th February 2013 - 12:22pm

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