Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Still Outrageous!

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Still Outrageous!

Article excerpt

Canadian maverick Brad Fraser talks about bringing the pioneering drag-queen cult movie to the stage

Playwright and director Brad Fraser knew it would be challenging to conjure up a stage musical version of Canada's 1977 cult queer movie Outrageous! Chief among the obstacles: the preserved-in-celluloid image of Craig Russell, the legendary Canadian female impersonator who breathed life into the picture's starring role and became one of the decade's biggest underground stars in the process.

The film's initial splash--it played in New York and San Francisco and across Europe to raves--was all about Russell, a dead-on vocal and visual mimic who could slip from Mae West to Judy Garland to Peggy Lee to Carol Channing in the blink of a false eyelash. He was shown off to perfection as an outcast drag queen who finds comfort in the friendship of his schizophrenic female flatmate. Unfortunately for 21st-century audiences, Russell died of AIDS-related causes in 1990, as did Richard Benner, the movie's writer-director.

Fraser solved the Russell problem by casting multiracial actor Thom Allison in the lead role. "This adds a whole new dimension to the show," says the openly gay Fraser, who's best known for his play Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, which was filmed as Love and Human Remains. …

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