Matthew Donovan isn’t wasting any time in making his Ottawa Fringe debut, just weeks after graduating from the National Theatre School.
The gay 26-year-old Kingston native is dazzling Fringe-goers with his kooky drag cabaret spectacle, RaRa!: And the Boifrend That Br3ked Her Heart Up [sic].
In the show, Donovan’s drag alter ego, RaRa, simply must perform her regular cabaret show even though she’s just suffered a heart attack after her boyfriend broke up with her only a week before.
“It’s a concert that follows a narrative that develops into a twist at the end,” Donovan explains. “The big theme is the choice between career success and love life and finding the necessary sacrifices between the two of them.”
The show began as a solo performance project in theatre school, and Donovan expanded it to a full show with the encouragement of his classmates and teachers. They must have liked it, since the school awarded him a production grant to help him bring the show to life after graduation.
Donovan had never performed in drag before but says he was inspired by pop-culture icons, especially Lady Gaga.
“There was the whole controversy about her being a man the whole time, and I thought, ‘What if she was?’ Donovan says. “I thought about creating this character that’s like that: the same kind of diva, out-there quality as Gaga.”
Donovan scripted the show and wrote all of its original music, making him a true triple threat. The Fringe has proved the launching pad for many of Canada’s theatre icons. Donovan may just be the next.