Gender blender 

Way too blonde cabaret returns to Whistler for one-night laughs

What: way too blonde, a cabaret

When: July 27, 7 p.m.

Where: Maurice Young Millennium Place

Skirt versus pants, lipstick versus lip balm; have they got you in a bind?

Wondering if other women feel the same way, or is it just another day at the office?

Way too blonde, a one-night comedy cabaret from full figure theatre, examines this and other gender-bending questions next week at Millennium Place.

Through a series of comedy sketches, scriptwriters Sharon Heath and Tammy Bentz use minimalist stage design with maximum script to explore different roles for women in today’s world.

The 45-minute show takes place on Saturday, July 27.

"Way too blonde has new songs and scenes – almost a cheesy kind of humour," says Heath, co-founder and co-director of the touring theatre company.

"It’s quick-witted cabaret, and a wine and cheese social wrapped into one," adds Millennium Place co-ordinator Gillie Easdon.

Easdon says the show follows on the heels of February’s successful production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues at Millennium Place.

The focus of full figure theatre has been to "encourage growth in society by presenting theatre from a female perspective."

Their new play, titled more more more, examines "why we shop, and other things we do in contemporary society."

Way too blonde was performed in Whistler in 1995, the same year it was written at full figure theatre.

"That was a successful show, just screaming. I took the slow ferry from Nanaimo and was late, and drove straight to Whistler (to the hotel stage venue)," says Heath.

"I jumped out of the car straight into my costume, cabaret-style!" she laughs.

"People were having a really good time."

Bentz, co-founder and co-writer of the play, is on maternity leave. Actor Jacqueline Bandeneau assumes her role for the Whistler performance.

Bentz, an accomplished performer, has a diverse portfolio which includes the one-woman poetry play, Sideways Glance, where she was accompanied by musician John Peterson.

In turn, Heath’s contribution to the project originates from an early "vocal masque" theatre project.

The masque "included different styles of speaking, theatrical and literal, and a 15 minute segment turned into (a show called) too blonde, which then became way too blonde."

While the play is female-focussed, an invitation is extended to all.

"All male volunteers at this point!" quips Easdon.

The show was a "Pick of the Fringe" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, considered by some to be one of the top fringe festivals world wide.

The show continues to strike a chord with audiences internationally.

"There was a lot of support when the show came out, and we had a lot of success with radio and TV coverage while touring from Adelaide to Melbourne, Australia," says Heath.

She says the response at the Orlando Fringe Festival in Florida was also strong, but not a surprise.

"Disneyland just has all these artists screaming to get out and perform, you know? All these Snow Whites and Prince Charmings," says Heath.

Full figure theatre also toured New Zealand, receiving equally good response.

Heath sees her role as a kind of multifunctional artist.

"As a comedian and comic writer, part of my strength taps into the pop culture trends – now as an artist, I’m female, and a comic, and a feminist.

"We’ve always said our goal is to look at stereotypes of women in the media," she says, "and the theatre explores different ways of building and presenting plays."

Heath says keeping on top of contemporary trends and gender role issues is something she enjoys. Naomi Klein’s recent bestseller No Logo, a take on branding and pop culture, as well as Better Happy Than Rich — Canadians, Money, and the Meaning of Life, by Michael Adams, top her recent reading list.

Theatre is the favoured method of expression.

"Theatre is really grass roots, and easy to produce."

Way too blonde will be followed by a catered reception, where the actors will be available for a question and answer session and conversation.

Tickets are $32, and include hors d’oeuvres and two glasses of wine, or $26, which includes the same minus the cocktails.

For tickets contact Ticketmaster or the MY Place box office at 604-935-8418.


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