Posted By: Adam Brazier aka Carnivia Von Botox
There are very few traditions in Toronto: The CNE, Honest Ed giving away turkeys, the Santa Claus Parade, TTC strikes, the Leafs missing the playoffs and Ross Petty’s Annual Holiday Family Musical.
This is my third time through the Ross Petty experience and it once again reminds me of advice my mother always gave me: that anything easy to do is simply not worth doing at all. Well that may be the most perfect analogy for working with Ross. To most actors a script is a sacred text that leads the actor into both character and artistic expression; to Ross it’s merely a suggestion.
I recall while performing Aladdin in 2004, Ross and I were alone on stage and he decided to go off script on a tangent he thought would be funnier than what we had rehearsed and performed the previous weeks. Well Ross had talked himself so far off book he couldn’t remember what came next. In his usual charming and self-deprecating way he simply turned to me and asked, “What comes next?”. I took a few steps toward him, placed my arm over his shoulders and said “Ross, I have a book for you to read. It’s called the SCRIPT!”. I was ever so grateful Ross had lost his way on stage that night for it provided me with the biggest laugh of the evening.
This year we tackle Cinderella. The last time Cinderella went through the Petty treatment I was playing the Prince. Oh how things change. Five years later I’m playing the Ugly Step Sister Carnivia. A food-obsessed woman more interested in the king’s buffet than his son. My sister Plumbum, is being played by Stratford veteran Dan Chameroy. Dan and I worked together in 1997 in the Stratford production of Camelot. Dan played Sir Lancelot and I played spear carrier number four to the left. I was amazing. I recall my mother saying that she saw me on stage…or at least she thought it was me. She did however remember Dan. I can tell you in all honesty that the hardest part of this job will be not laughing at Dan on stage. He has a brilliant mind for comedy and it’s a privilege working beside him… even if we are both in women’s clothing.
It’s rare that two straight leading men get a chance to prance around in drag and throw catty remarks back and forth. Oddly enough we both seem to slide into it very quickly. I can’t speak for Dan’s wife but my girlfriend Melissa has never been prouder. She was on the subway the other day with her girlfriends and sat across from the Cinderella poster. “That’s my boyfriend”, she proclaimed. “Which one?”, asked her friend. The one in the pink dress, missing a tooth wearing a tiara that reads Hot Stuff. “She quickly fell silent as her head sank to her chest. “It’s alright” her friend said, “it’s probably just a phase”.
The love affair that Ontario has developed with the Ross Petty Holiday Musicals is definitely a beloved tradition…family fun that is truly hilarious at the most heart-warming time of year.