Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Ottawa’s Toto Too Theatre brings the love, valour and compassion

2015/2016 season kicks off with Tony Award-winning play

Just about any gay character on stage or screen is limp-wristed. As strange as it sounds, this may be because many straight people prefer gay guys to be flaming. Maybe there’s something comforting about the stereotype — at least when the freaks are all the same, you know what to expect: pink feather boas, poodles and Madonna tantrums. Deep breaths, straights; it’ll all be okay.

That’s why the latest addition to Toto Too Theatre’s board, Josh Kemp, is so excited about the upcoming production of the play Love! Valour! Compassion! He says that when the movie version came out in 1997, it was a rare chance to see gay characters that weren’t “kitsch and cliché.”

“There are things you could put into a show to make a straight audience feel comfortable. Things that people have taken to identifying our community with, but that don’t necessarily represent [everyone in the community],” says Kemp, who plays Buzz in the show. “This play depicts gay guys as regular guys.”

With a cast that included Nathan Lane, Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play had its world premiere off-Broadway in 1994. It’s about eight gay friends who get together over three long weekends one summer at a vacation house just north of New York City.

(Image credit: Maria Vartanova)

“There are the secondary storylines — a little adultery, a little sex, a little loss, a little AIDS — but the overarching theme is that they’re supposed to be very real, regular men rehearsing for a benefit performance of Swan Lake that they’re putting on at Carnegie Hall,” Kemp says. “It’s a bit of a mash up of what life was like for gay men in the late ’80s and [early] ’90s.”

Toto Too Theatre’s production of Love! Valour! Compassion! will kick of the 2015/2016 season.

“I think it’s important to mention that Toto Too is made up of volunteers and without the dozens of people who bring a production to the stage, it wouldn’t happen,” he says. “These people give their time to bring something very special to the Ottawa queer community and we hope that people will come out and show their support.”

(Love! Valour! Compassion!
Wednesday, Oct 7–Saturday, Oct 10, 2015, 7:30pm
Academic Hall, University of Ottawa, 133–135 Séraphin-Marion St.
tototoo.ca)