Wednesday, April 29, 2009
LADY BOYS IN EUROPE
A member of Fringe Festival regulars, The Ladyboys from Bangkok poses at their venue in the Meadows, Edinburgh, prior to their annual performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
While transvestite cabaret is a tourist staple in Bangkok and at tacky beach resorts such as Pattaya, the kathoey (called 'lady boy' in both Thai and English) performers generally wear tatty costumes and move desultorily through their routines, lip synching like wooden marionettes.
Even so, after British theater producer Phillip Gandey saw his first kathoey cabaret at the Mambo Club in Bangkok in 1998, he realized its latent potential and decided to develop the show for a western market. Six years on, his flamboyant gender-bending extravaganza "The Lady Boys of Bangkok" has become a perennial hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is now making waves elsewhere in the UK and in Australia too.
In contrast to the miniscule stages stuck like afterthoughts at the back of restaurants or sidewalk bars in Thailand, the performance space in Edinburgh is a purpose-built tent seating 500. This summer's "Thai Spice Tour 2004," the show's sixth and most successful tour to date, played two and three shows nightly to consistently sold-out crowds. The 17-member cast executed their 20 lip-synched song and dance routines as well as a total of 200 costume changes with all the glitter, glamour and professionalism of a Las Vegas spectacle.
Lavish production numbers ranged from current faves by Beyonce and J-Lo to '80s disco hits and a campy rendition of Maria from "Sound of Music" that morphed into the title song from "Sister Act." By the glittering confetti-strewn finale (a raucous ABBA medley) some 90 minutes later, the entire audience was on its feet clapping and screaming.
"First class, absolutely brilliant," raved a plumpish Elaine Howie from nearby Kirkcaldy. "They've got better bodies than I've ever seen." Her frumpy companion dressed in a nondescript pantsuit and anorak agreed. "We don't usually get all this glamour and diamante in Edinburgh!"
Lady Boys Of Bangkok Perform At Edinburgh Festival
at 8:15 AM