The queen of unconventional drag, Le Gateau Chocolat, will be returning to Adelaide next month presenting two Fringe shows: A Night at the Musicals and Duckie. I spoke with the Gateau this past week about his shows, his creative process, and his “February home” during the Fringe.
In A Night at the Musicals, Gateau will collaborate with fellow UK drag icon Jonny Woo, when together they pay fond homage to the musical genre – from Grease to The Lion King. Duckie is rather unique, representing Gateau’s first foray into children’s entertainment.
“I didn’t actually set out to make a kids show,” Gateau explains. “I was booked to do a variety show, and I was the penultimate artist to perform on the playbill that night… I only discovered when I got out on stage that between the first seats and the stage, in that bank of empty space you normally have, there were thirty kids sat there… I did I Dreamed a Dream, but through that my head was just running, thinking ‘I want to completely ignore the fact that this is a sold out house and just focus on doing something with the kids, because I think it could be quite funny’.”
Gateau mentally went through his iPod playlist and made a new, impromptu line-up of children-friendly songs. He took his high-heels off and sat amongst the children, talking about school, ballet, and hobbies, before continuing – performing Beauty and the Beast and Hopelessly Devoted to You.
“It was literally hands up in the air and people screaming,” he recalls. At the end of his act, he told the crowd: “What just happened in this room has got to be one of highlights of my entire career.” From that night and that experience, Duckie was born.
Gateau played with many ideas for his children’s show, before finally settling on a “fresh and funny” reimaging of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Ducking. Through Duckie, Gateau explores themes of bullying, self-acceptance, and “beauty after hardship” tempered with dress-ups and Disney references.
Gateau admits that Duckie has a very different feel to his previous, adult shows. “I don’t speak at all during the show, I just sing. The show is delivered in a fairy tale book fashion, so that’s definitely a talking point.” Gateau cites Curious George as inspiration for Duckie, written in collaboration with his Australian writing partner Tommy Bradson.
However, Duckie holds something for the parents too: “This story extends to workplace bullying, equal pay, everything … The metaphors are there and you just have to open your eyes and hearts to really see what I’m trying to talk about.”
Duckie will play at the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Corona Theatre, from 13th February – 14th March.
A Night at the Musicals will also grace the Garden of Unearthly delights, Studio 7, from 12th February – 13th March.
Interview by Nicola Woolford.
Find out more later this month about ‘A Night At The Musicals’, when Glam Adelaide’s Nathan Quadrio interviews Jonny Woo