NOW Magazine - Pride - - Pride Stage Preview - By JON KA­PLAN


cre­ated by Sal­va­tore An­to­nio and Adamo Rug­giero, with An­to­nio, Rug­giero, Gavin Craw­ford, Shar­ron Matthews, Damien Atkins, Keith Cole, Ter­rence Bryant, Se­bastien Heins, Paul Char­bon­neau and Roney Lewis (Bud­dies in Bad Times, 12 Alexan­der). June 26-27 at 8 pm. $20, ad­vance $15. 416-975-8555, bud­diesin­bad­ Madonna’s ground­break­ing 1991 doc­u­men­tary, Truth Or Dare, blended scenes from her Blond Am­bi­tion tour and episodes from the singer’s per­sonal life. Shock­ing and ex­hil­a­rat­ing in equal parts, the film is still a mem­o­rable look at star­dom.

Sal­va­tore An­to­nio and Adamo Rug­giero were among those swept up by its on- and off­stage pas­sions, so much so that they’ve de­vised a stage ver­sion of the piece that re- plays its key mo­ments and pulls the au­di­ence into the ac­tion in a fash­ion sim­i­lar to a Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show fan per­for­mance.

The re­sult is Truth/Dare: A Satire ( With Dance), part of Bud­dies’ Pride cel­e­bra­tions.

The tall, bearded An­to­nio in a blond wig plays Madonna, and Rug­giero takes on her two brothers, one straight, one gay. De­spite the sendup, the per­form­ers haven’t lost their ad­mi­ra­tion for the Ma­te­rial Girl.

“I saw the doc­u­men­tary at a sub­ur­ban mall with my sis­ter and had my mind blown,” re­calls play­wright/ac­tor/teacher An­to­nio. “Grow­ing up in the 80s, I knew who Madonna was, but all my knowl­edge was pro­cessed and fil­tered through MTV videos. In the film, I saw a can­did Madonna: she swore, she showed her in­se­cu­ri­ties, she was a bit of an ass­hole.

“Though the film wasn’t made so long ago, it was be­fore the live stream of pub­lic/pri­vate ac­cess we now have to celebri­ties. In Truth Or Dare, I could see the hu­man woman be­hind the icon. She was flawed, but I could iden­tify with her.”

Two decades later, An­to­nio was at a din­ner party where ev­ery­one quoted their favourite lines from the film. That led to talk about a do­ing “a sim­ple pop­umen­tary” that would use all the quotes, but when Videofag’s Jor­dan Tan­nahill and Wil­liam Christo­pher El­lis of­fered him their venue to cre­ate a new show, he went for com­edy in­stead of doc­u­men­tary.

For that 2012 work­shop that led to the Bud­dies show, An­to­nio roped in Rug­giero to help.

“I was a teen a decade later, in the 90s,” smiles Rug­giero. “Sadly, pop cul­ture was over-pro­cessed and a throw­back to the con­ser­va­tive 50s. The Madonna film gave me a whole new view of pop cul­ture, the op­po­site of re­fined.”

Truth Or Dare, with its com­bi­na­tion of black-and-white off­stage scenes – in­clud­ing an angry Madonna re­fer­ring to “the fas­cist state” of Toronto when she con­fronted po­lice at a SkyDome con­cert – and colour con­cert clips, be­came the tem­plate for the stage show.

In ad­di­tion to the au­di­ence dance breaks that are an in­te­gral part of the per­for­mance (though you can watch from the side­lines), you’ll see Keith Cole as Madonna’s step­mother, Shar­ron Matthews as a va­ri­ety of pow­er­ful men, in­clud­ing Madonna’s man­ager and Kevin Cost­ner, and Gavin Craw­ford as San­dra Bernhardt and War­ren Beatty. Dancers Paul Char­bon­neau and Roney Lewis per­form iconic pieces like Ex­press Your­self and Vogue, while the ex­pres­sive Ter­rence Bryant pro­vides the show’s nar­ra­tive voice.

Part of the box of­fice goes to the Toronto Peo­ple with Aids Foun­da­tion.

“It’s im­por­tant that this show be ac­ces­si­ble to those who aren’t fans as well as those who know Madonna well,” says An­to­nio. “I think of it as be­ing like a Sound Of Mu­sic sin­ga­long or a Rocky Hor­ror evening. Watch­ing oth­ers get into it is part of the en­ter­tain­ment.”

“And what bet­ter time than Pride,” adds Rug­giero, “to cel­e­brate a clas­sic queer icon?” 3 jonkap@now­

Sal­va­tore An­to­nio does it like Madonna in Truth/Dare: A Satire (With Dance).

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