(Dillan Adrian Reid, cast as Queen B, posing pensively during opening night of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Queen B at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, ON, on July 26, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
Stealing a page from Cinderella, Neil Francis Monforton throws in a real surprise in Revolution Youth Theatre’s Queen B, now playing at Windsor’s Shadowbox Theatre. After gay protagonist, played with precise uncertainty by Dillan Adrian Reid, is given a proper thumping by his tough guy, football playing brother Chad, his dreams of entering a drag queen contest seem pretty much dashed. Chad, acted with appropriate superiority by Taran Robertson Thompson, wanting no discredit to the family’s name, is all but ready to tear his brother and his costume apart.
It is here Monforton brings in a superhero of sorts, in the form of their Nana, played with a wink and smile by 20-year-old Yasmine Sole beautifully made up to look well beyond her youth. It turns out, she is old school, as in burlesque dancer, as in back in the day, and has a gift for Brian.
Up to Nana’s present, not having a costume was just one thing holding Brian back. After coming out as gay he was having more than a few second thoughts about going to the next level as a drag queen but is encouraged by his transsexual friend Michael, a role Jake Smith excels in, and his sister Grace, who wins audience approval for her stellar performance.
Deciding to give it a go, as the second act commences, all eyes are on the drag competition which itself is a total metamorphosis of the set, from Brian’s bedroom to a glitzy stage and even glitzier female imposters. Five of them take their turns strutting around on and off the stage with perfectly, and in some cases astounding moves, all of them wearing high heels which makes it even more remarkable. Choreographer Erin Fathers is credited with piecing together the steps they take with their moves winning considerable audience praise.
It is more than a tough contest but, in the end, well, you will just have to head out to Shadowbox to find out who wins the top prize and who is judged Miss Congeniality.
Revolution Youth Theatre was created to expand access local youth, from 12 to 20, have to all aspects of stage productions. Despite the youth of its players, its Queen B cast are able to execute to an incredibly and exceptionally high standard, although there was one amusing departure from the script.
Gucci Coochie, played to perfection by Dakota Rossel, with one perfectly executed dance move did find one of her shoes heading for the audience. There is no promise the move will be repeated in subsequent performances.
The play covers a topical subject revolving around the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. With many of the characters in Monforton’s script acting as part of that community, Revolution’s Executive Director, Shana Thibert, tells Eyes on Windsor the script and content of the play were carefully reviewed by the local LGBT members to ensure a fair and accurate presentation.
Monforton took about six months to write the play with rehearsals starting in earnest in mid-May. Many of the actors were first time performers for RYT, including protagonist Dillan Adrian Reid. Although he is no stranger to the stage, the 20-year-old actor has actually filled the role of a woman before, as Mrs. Pingleton in Hairspray.
One of the youngest cast members is 13-year-old Jake Smith who plays both transgender Michael and drag queen Cloud Nine. Also at 13 is Cody Drouillard who expertly handled the sound system for the play. Although he says he had a good time, his next move, he hopes, will be in front of the audience.
Stage Manager is Brendan McAdorey aided by assistant Teagan Grace Smallhorn. Most recently she played opposite Rob Tymec in Adventures in Dating. In her next role, she hopes to land a singing part.
Additional cast members are Nicky Kiteley, playing Michael’s father Steve and Kayla Mae and his mother Lynn. Assistant Director is Stella Cox who also plays Grace. The play’s emcee is Michael Momney who performs the role with considerable humour, telling stories in-between drag queen performances.
Technical staff include Danielle Campbell on lights and Emily Pinkney as backstage crew. Makeup is done by Taylor Thibert-Poulin, Alexi Korunoska and Mark Hryniw.
The next performance will be Saturday July 27th at 7:00 pm and then Sunday July 28th at 4:00 pm at the Shadowbox Theatre 1501 Howard Ave, suite103B (Howard and Shepherd), Windsor, Ontario N8X3T5. Tickets: $10 each or a family pack of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) for $30. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 226-345-9891.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.