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Robin Turner is a gay hairdresser. He hates his job. He loves old movies and will do his customers' hair in the style of an iconic movie star if they'll let him, and even if they don't. At his apartment, he is harboring his medically diagnosed schizophrenic friend, Liza Connors, who can no longer stand being institutionalized. After Liza convinces Robin to attend a drag ball dressed as Tallulah Bankhead, Robin begins to feel liberated. On Liza's further urging, Robin accepts a local club's offer to work as a female impersonator, he doing his own singing unlike most drag queens. As he progresses with his female impersonation work to great aplomb, he takes a shot at making it big in New York City. The money will have to come in since despite medical warnings to her not to do it, Liza has become pregnant (not Robin's baby), she deciding to have and keep the baby.Written by
Bittersweet story of a hairdresser in Toronto who becomes a drag star (sort of) and his friendship with a schizophrenic girl trying to start a life away from her mother and hospitals. As played by Craig Russell and Hollis McLaren we see two fragile-but-believable characters struggling to find themselves in New York City.
McLaren's character of Liza has been released after years in a mental ward. She's still defiant and wants to experience life. She moves in with Russell in Toronto and has ups and downs and ends up pregnant. Russell is drawn to performing in a local club and loses his job, giving him the excuse to pursue his drag act full time, eventually moving to New York. After Liza loses her baby, she follows Russell to New York and realizes that the "bone crushers" she often hallucinates have stayed behind in Toronto.
The main focus though is Russell as he prepares for and then performs his act. He channels Tallulah Bankhead at the drop of a hat and with a series of wigs and quick changes he impersonates Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, Bette Midler, Ethel Merman, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Barbra Streisand, and Judy Garland. The Midler is not great but the others are pretty much spot on.
Best of all is is a full-dress Peggy Lee singing "It Ain't Easy." This is Russell's best act and the song is terrific (Paul Hoffert wrote it). It also bring us to the marvelous and surreal ending when Russell, still in full Peggy Lee drag tells Liza that she's not crazy, just special, and that she must simply be herself, embrace her madness and make it work for her. He tells her we are all mad and then teaches her to do a deep Bankhead laugh saying maaaaaad, maaaaad.
Also in the cast is the very funny Richert Easley as Perry, a would-be drag queen who has a passion for Karen Black. As he's begging Liza for the loan of a dress he grabs one out of the closet and she tells him "that's my best dress." He looks at her and opines, "This is your best?" Also in the cast are Helen Shaver as a lesbian friend.
A word must be said for the wonderful music by Paul Hoffert, who in addition to "It Ain't Easy," also wrote "Step Out" sung by Cecille Frennette.
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