A little bit more Elbow Room

A little bit more Elbow Room

I am writing real people.

Scarier still, I am writing my friends.

I am in the thick of the first draft of my new musical Elbow Room Cafe, written with brilliant composer-lyricist Anton Lipovetsky, who I’ve had the honour of working with before when he starred in the Firehall remount of my play My Funny Valentine. Working with someone like Anton is continuously inspiring because he bleeds and sweats creativity. Gross.

For those who have never been to Vancouver’s iconic Elbow Room Cafe (560 Davie Street – for the love of God stop by!), you know the kind of brilliant chaos you can encounter during the weekend rush. The wondrous Acadian sounds of Patrice calling you “Princess” and telling you get your own damn coffee while his partner in life and crime, the ever-British Bryan tells Patrice where to shove it. It gives me hope that I’ll have thirty-something years with my husband yelling at each other to the general amusement of the public as we’ve done as our drag personas Isolde & Peach for the past few years. Being entrusted to write the voices and lives of dear friends who are also dear to the rest of the community is rather terrifying. What if I get it wrong? (I might.) What if it isn’t true to life? (It’s definitely not.) What if they don’t like it? (They’ll have to, won’t they? WON’T THEY?!) In March, Studio 58 and Zee Zee Theatre will be presenting the first public presentations of the piece in what we’re calling Phase One. Phase One of how many? Three at least I would say. You can’t rush a good musical. You can definitely rush a bad one (see my previous musical Homecoming King). So what can audiences (and Patrice and Bryan) expect to see? A story of love, legacy, gigantic pancakes and mayhem. It’s a rare treat for any playwright (especially Canadian playwright) to get to write for a huge cast so I’m going all out. Bachelorette party? Sure. Drag queen? Why not? Awkward exes on a brunch date? Definitely. The Elbow Room is such a part of the fabric of gay Vancouver society (and even mores in Tourist Vancouver), that anything is possible.

Or at least I hope so. I hope I can even begin to capture the magic and heart and love that exists between those four walls. I’ve learned that if I’m terrified of a project it’s a good thing. If the writing is a struggle, it means we’re onto something. So stay tuned – Phase One is coming soon to a Studio 58 near you.

-September 3, 2014