By Michael Reubens
Galas is part satire, part pantomime, part farce, part slapstick, and a totally over-the-top humorous romp in the most drag camp ever to hit the boards.
Celebrating Stonewall 50 and World Pride as part of LGBTQ+ events in June, Galas pays tribute to the opera diva Maria Callas albeit from a different if not unique perspective. Written by Charles Ludlam (1943-1987) and his Ridiculous Theatrical Company, now under the helm of actor/director Everett Quinton, this talented company of actors are currently at Theatre at St. John’s in the West Village of Manhattan, New York City, for a limited season until June 28th.
To say that Mr. Quinton is multi-talented is an understatement. He, along with seven of his company, play an assortment of gender-bender roles ranging from a possessed tooth-missing discheveled maid, Bruna Lina Rasta (Jenne Vath), to Giovanni Baptista Mercanteggini (Beth Dodye Bass) to Shane Baker, Playing a very gay Pope among an array of ill assorted characters.
The dialogue in itself is unlike a Mel Brooks film intertwined with sketches from SNL or a Brit sitcom. Benny Hill comes to mind. Quinton though has the best lines, somewhat reminiscent of Eva Peron (replete with a Blonde wig) and perhaps a touch of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. When asked if she was a music lover she sarcastically replied, “I am not a music lover, I am music…” as only Signorina Galas could in her sarcastic and dry witted demeanor.
The Diva and comedy connected with such ebs and flows is like a winding road and steep to downward incline, however devotees of the real Maria Callas won’t be too disgusted or insulted as a result of going back in time to La Scala and the majestic opera houses of Europe as backstage dramas and financial contractual agreements are comically presented as well as an aria or two, although alas not by Galas but by the demented maid. Its Art imitating life imitating Art and all executed in a refreshingly droll style!
The rise and fall of Magdalena Galas as only The visionary Everett Quinton can and does prove.
Mark Erson, Maude Lardner Burke, Géraldine Dulex and Chris Johnson make up the remainder of the company.
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*photo credit: Theo Cote
From left to right: Jenne Vath, Everett Quinton and Géraldine Dulex.