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The Bearded Ladies Cabaret to Team with Dito van Reigersberg for MOMMIE QUEEREST, 1/26-2/2

The Bearded Ladies Cabaret is teaming up with Bearded Extension Dito van Reigersberg on an all-musical, all-queer version of the cult classic film Mommie Dearest. Bearded Composer Heath Allen has adapted the movie into a camp-opera in which van Reigersberg and Bearded Artistic Director John Jarboe epically battle over who gets to portray Joan Crawford. The new popera will premier in a concert staging on Monday, January 26 and Monday, February 2, 2015 as a Fundraiser for The Bearded Ladies Cabaret.

Jarboe and van Reigersberg will be joined by a choir of Bearded Ladies company members and local Philebrities all vying to wear the controversial and coveted shoulder pads and face cream of Crawford.

Audience members who don wire hanger costumes can participate in a runway part way through the concert. There will also be a live auction.

Mommie Queerest is a camp-popera devoted to exploring the LGBTQ community's dark fascination with the domestic and performative atrocities of Mommie Dearest. Taking John Water's suggestion that "someone should make a musical out of this" to operatic ends, the Beards will perform and examine our Crawford obsessions. Why are we drawn to both the abuser and the abused? What's underneath our campy obsession? Why are shoulder pads out of fashion? All the while the Beards will "tear down the bitch of a wall" between us and the audience making the crowd complicit in all the perils and pleasures of a Mommie Dearest obsession. There will be a cocktail orientation and reception beforehand as well as a Rocky-Horror-esque kit of face cream, swim caps, and hangers to get even the newest fans in the spirit.

The Bearded Ladies is the resident cabaret company of The Wilma Theater. They fuse cabaret and theater to tackle the politics of gender, identity, and artistic invention with sparkle and wit. Only four years old, they have created over nine original Caba-Plays including Philadelphia's annual Bastille Day Cabaret performed for a crowd of over five thousand at Eastern State Penitentiary.

Dito van Reigersberg hails from Washington DC and is a co-founder and co-artistic director of Pig Iron Theatre Company, a physical-theatre company that has created 30 original pieces in its 19-year history. A graduate of Swarthmore College, he trained at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. He has also created and performed with Headlong Dance Theatre, Azuka, Mauckingbird, and Nichole Canuso Dance Company. He is a Barrymore Award recipient for Best Ensemble for Mission to Mercury (Pig Iron) and a nominee for Best Actor in a Musical for Hedwig (Azuka), as well as a Helen Hayes Nominee for Best Leading Actor in a Non-Resident Play for Hell Meets Henry Halfway. With his co-artistic director Dan Rothenberg and Quinn Bauriedel, he has been named a Pew Fellow (2002) and a Knight USA Fellow (2010).

His alter-ego Martha Graham-Cracker is famously 'the tallest drag queen in the world." Her monthly cabaret series at L'Etage in Philadelphia has been running for over 8 years. Along with her tight band (Andrew Nelson, Ned Sonstein, Victor Fiorillo and Rich Hill), she been performed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Joe's Pub in New York, The Trocadero Theatre, and the Mayor's Reception Room in City Hall. She is a substitute teacher in Philadelphia public schools, and she loves racehorses and the jockeys who ride them.

The Wilma Theater was founded in 1973 as the Wilma Project; in 1979, Blanka Zizka and Jiri Zizka of Czechoslovakia forged a creative relationship with the Wilma Project as artists-in-residence. They gained swift acclaim for their bold, innovative productions and assumed artistic leadership, changing the name to The Wilma Theater. After many seasons of producing theatre at various locations, the Wilma opened a new, state-of-the-art 300-seat theater on The Avenue of the Arts in 1996. Under the artistic leadership of Blanka Zizka, the Wilma has since taken its place in the vanguard of Philadelphia theatre, and serves as a leader and a mentor within its artistic community. Information at


Mommie Queerest

Monday, January 26 and Monday, February 2

Cocktail reception at 6:15 pm

Performance at 7 pm

The Wilma Theater

265 South Broad Street, Philadelphia

Tickets are $25

Click here to buy tickets, or buy them at the door

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