Michael McCarthy says he and the other members of Montreal’s Glam Gam Cabaret troupe were left with a daunting question late last summer. What’s next?
The Glam Gams had just finished creating their first murder mystery, If Looks Can Kill . . . They Will!!!, which proved a huge hit at Montreal’s Fringe and in Toronto when they took it on the road there. “We really weren’t sure of what direction to go in,” says McCarthy, co-founder of Glam Gam.
McCarthy says he and several others came up with a brainstorm: “We had done a lot of variety shows, and we liked the idea of including other artists and the public into a 24-hour cabaret, where people are brought together and must put a show together in one single 24-hour period.”
The Glam Gam collective put up ads on Craigslist and urged people to apply. “Anyone can join in if they want, which is part of the beauty of it,” he says. There will be no auditions. Rather, names will be chosen from a hat. Then, the name of the idea for the show will also be pulled out of a hat. The lucky few who are chosen will be under the gun, having to create and rehearse a show that will be performed exactly 24 hours later.
“I find something really incredible happens when people have to improvise under pressure,” McCarthy says. “It’s going to be a mix of amateur, improvisation and professional performance. The audience knows the group will have only had 24 hours to prepare the entire thing, so the expectations are quite different.”
McCarthy also says that a different type of synergy is created when you have a collective creation that runs across such a range of experience. “When professional performers and non-professional performers work together, the chemistry can be very good.”
And improvisation becomes paramount. “With our cabarets, I’m used to everything we do being planned out in great detail. This will mean I’ll have to let go a lot. But I like that. I prefer improv, really. I get stressed out when I have to learn lines!”
McCarthy urges everyone, from experienced actors and dancers to anyone who’s ever dreamt of being on stage, to join in the fun. “This is a way to get a lot of different people involved in the cabaret,” he says.