Quinlan, Varrin and Young.
A law firm?
A folksinging trio?
Not even close. See: cross-dressing. Around these parts the three are the unofficial yet undisputed local authority on dudes getting dolled up as dames.
For the theatre. Its probably a good idea to add that.
As the crew from Short Skirt Theatre was well aware when they recruited QVY for the upcoming production of Sleeping Beauty, you couldnt stage a local pantomime without them. Gender bending is essential to the British theatre genre that pokes fun at classic fairy tales, and in Whistler there are none better at discovering the woman within than Quinlan, Varrin and Young.
Thats Chris Quinlan by day a wild-mannered cafe owner and proprietor, soon to take the stage as buxom busybody Dame Amonia Goodbody.
Reverend J. Michael Varrin, Esq. by night general manager and resident bon vivant of the Garibaldi Lift Co., soon to flounce into your big gay heart as Good Fairy Azuriel.
And Scott Young head honcho for the soon to open Rics Grill, in the meantime truly larger than life, brushing the seven foot mark as the less than bewitching, beehive be-wigged Queen Semolina.
Off stage, the three exude rugged masculinity. A variety of facial hair permutations range from full beard to handlebar moustache. They speak in hearty baritones. They lean on furry forearms.
But these boys theatre resumes reveal a host of widows and wives and wenches. Rev. Varrin even had a go as Marilyn Monroe at last Februarys Celebration 2010 Whistler Arts Showcase Cultural Cabaret. Smashing!
Following a recent Sleeping Beauty rehearsal Pique managed to corral these three cowboys from Mars and was given the rare opportunity to hear straight from their purty mouths how they got so good at day trips to Venus.
Read on, but be warned. This is not for the faint of heart.
Pique: Are there any female icons of stage and screen that are inspiring your current roles?
Chris Quinlan:Loretta Swit.
Mike Varrin:Sue Ellen from Dallas.
Scott Young:I like Creepella from the Flintstones.
MV:Jane Fonda in Barbarella was good.
SY:If we could get into a costume like that wed be rockin.
Pique:Im wondering how three obviously very masculine men such as yourselves end up in such roles.
CQ:The turning point for me when I did get a chance to actually perform in a dress was walking out into the foyer at Millennium Place and two councillors and a newspaper editor ( Say it isnt so, Bob!) grabbed my breasts.
SY:Its so easy to get a laugh when youre in a dress. Lets face it youre 50 per cent there when youre in a dress. That is the joke. Were macho, manly men and to see us in a dress, thats the joke.
Pique:Is facial hair essential?
MV:Not essential but it helps.
SY:No, I think Im going to shave.
CQ:Ive got to shave too. But (to Varrin) I think you need to be a fairy with a beard.
MV:Im going to be a hairy fairy.
Pique:Do you have any tips for other men who might be dressing up as women in plays some day?
CQ:Get comfortable shoes. Really, thats the biggest thing. And when you have breasts this is one of the things Id like to go on record as saying when we negotiated this contract to do this show, I talked about vodka riders and caviar and all these things, but at the top of my list was to have a good set of breasts. Because I saw Mike have to use his buddys sweatshirt and stuff like that, and that just doesnt do. Ive got a nice set of silicone breasts that I get to use. One of the other cast members just got them for me, and I just think its important you have good breasts.
MV:Heck, if I had breasts Id never leave home.
CQ:You know, the other thing about it is it gives me the opportunity to put a womans face in my breasts.
CQ:Ive got to do that as much as possible.
MV:I find wearing a dress very liberating.
CQ:Absolutely. Its a lot cooler than wearing pants. Its just more ventilation overall.
Pique:Cooler, literally and figuratively?
CQ:Its literally cooler. When I was a waiter working in the restaurants under my apron I had my fly undone all the time for ventilation. This way is much better.
SY:Im so glad I didnt get my souvlaki-on-a-skewer from you.
CQ:Actually, Mick (Cahir) made a comment. Hes playing the prince. Hes jealous. He wants to wear a dress. He feels a little left out.
MV:I think every guy should take the opportunity to wear a dress, at some point, just for the experience.
SY:Tell me youve never put your girlfriends panties on.
MV:Well, on my head.
Pique:Lets move along. What makes pantomime work?
SY:I think a play like this works because we know everybody in the audience. Thats why this is going to be such a great play. Thats part of the fun. Seeing these people you work with day to day in a different character. Thats what makes community theatre work.
Pique:Although the spectacle of the play is such that you really dont have to be familiar with the cast to still enjoy it.
MV:The thing is, we dont take ourselves too seriously... This is about having fun. Its as much fun for us to put it on as it is to watch. Otherwise we wouldnt be doing it.
CQ:It does concern my mother that at the age of 41 Im wearing a dress on stage. And not just once.
MV:Single 41 year old, wearing dresses on stage...
CQ:I think chicks dig it though. Really. A friend is coming from out of town just to see that.
SY:Theyre going to be lining up out the door for you guys.
Pique:All three of you have staff. Are you worried your staff wont respect you as much after they see you in a dress?
CQ:My staff actually have to work my lines with me. I almost scared one away once. I was doing a show with Michele Bush (Bushwoman Productions). The girl had just started. I said: "Okay, great, youve got the job. Now you have to read these lines with me," and it was me playing the part of the gay father in Absolutely Fabulous and I had to yell at her in a scene and she almost quit and ran away crying.
MV:Any of my staff that couldnt handle seeing me onstage in a dress for a couple of hours would never make it through December, let alone the whole season.
SY:I wouldnt hire somebody who would think "oh, my boss is in a dress? I dont respect him..." Thats not the type of person you want working, A) in a ski resort, and B) in food and beverage. You gotta have a sense of humour working in food and beverage. Thats what I like about food and beverage is you get the people that are genuinely nice people and that genuinely like people. Because if we didnt we wouldnt be in this business.
MV:Restaurant is theatre.
CQ:Its a show every night.
SY:Its a play.
CQ:And you never know whats under the apron.
SY:Goddammit, I wore a crab suit for four years (to promote the Crab Shack). You think dressing as a womans tough. Try dressing as a crab.
Pique:Any last words?
SY:Make sure you come.
MV:Over and over again.
Despite the somewhat ribald nature of the preceding interview, be assured Sleeping Beauty is a fun, family-friendly show.
For more information on show times and tickets call 604-935-8410.