Northern Michigan University Theatre & Dance will kick off Pride Month with a Drag Cabaret at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1, and Friday, June 2, in Forest Roberts Theatre. Four veteran performers and two newbies will take the stage in a traditional drag show format. They hail from Las Vegas, Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Marquette.
“It's a really good mix. I put together a great cast that's very different in terms of their music and type of entertaining they do,” said show curator Joe Heck, who also performs as Joey Black. “A lot of the numbers are Pride-focused. Tipping is always appreciated and encouraged, but not necessary. I love Dolly Parton's quote: ‘It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.'”
Heck said Pride got its start at a New York bar called Stonewall, where drag queens stood up to police who were raiding the club for the first time.
“That comes full circle with the current political climate in a lot of places, so this Pride Month kickoff event is appropriate,” Heck added. “NMU staged the first professional drag show in the U.P. I was in that one and did them for 25 years. Unfortunately, I'm the only surviving original cast member. But it was Valentine's Day weekend and there was a huge blizzard. We were driving up in a car saying, ‘We're going to die.'
“It was in the old Great Lakes Rooms. The show was going to be in one of the rooms and we were getting ready in another. We heard a huge commotion and thought people were coming for us. It was actually NMU staff having to push the walls back and grab chairs to open up all the Great Lakes Rooms because so many people came to see the show that they had to expand the rooms at the last minute. From that first show, we got so much love from the U.P. and from the Marquette community. That's something I'll hold dear to me my whole life. Two of the girls are coming out of retirement to do this upcoming show to express their appreciation for the love we've gotten.”
An opening-night party will follow Thursday's cabaret in the Forest Roberts Theatre lobby. Tickets are $17 for the general public; $12 for NMU faculty/staff, seniors and military; $10 for students; and $5 for NMU Students. They can be purchased at nmu.universitytickets.com/.