Diamond Divas and Friends Revue- Feb. 2010

If you think of a flamboyant female impersonator when you see the Rue Paul street sign in Dieppe you may already know about the highly anticipated  Diamond Divas Revue coming to the Capital Theater on Saturday, February 20th.

“It is the only one of its kind in Atlantic Canada.” says Steve Laviolette, producer and MC for the event “You won’t see any other show of this magnitude, or with this caliber of talent, east of Montreal”.

This is the tenth year that female impersonators have put on a fabulous show at the Capital theater to raise funds for CARA (Crisis And Referral Agency) Helpline.

The CARA Help Line is a free and confidential crisis support and referral service that is available in the Albert Westmorland areas, supported in part by the United Way.

The Diamond Divas show is put on by the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered) community, but the audience covers a broad spectrum of people who want to support a good cause.

Steve says people are drawn to female impersonators because of their mystique. And, people are curious about a type of performance that they don’t often get to see.

“It is a night out, it is intriguing, and it is something that is entirely different”, says Steve. “And I’ll be blunt about it, who is to say there isn’t the odd cross dresser in the audience that wants to see what it is like to be out in public with it”.

The show line-up includes twenty two acts and sixteen performers with    ‘celebrities’ taking the stage such as Judy Garland, Lady Gaga, ABBA, the little Mermaid, Anne Murray, Jennifer Hudson, Amy Winehouse and Celine Dion.

There is a transformation piece in which Marilyn Munro becomes Carol Channing that is “Priceless”, says Laviolette, “It is about two and a half minutes long and it is priceless”.

Performing as a special guest this year is ECMA Nominee Shirley Albert, performing live, as herself!

“All the performers are from Atlantic Canada,” says Steve, “some are professionals, and some just do it for fun because they like to perform. But all of them are doing it for charity. That is the main thing, that  everybody is giving their own time for the event on a volunteer basis to support the CARA Help Line”.

Steve Laviolette says that CARA takes on many subjects such as “Suicide prevention, spousal abuse, drug addiction and alcoholism. This Help Line is for anyone and everybody. I wish I had had a helpline like this when I was growing up to help me”.

Karen Eustace, Executive Director of CARA, works the phone line along with some volunteers,and organizes the fund raising for the non-profit organization. She says that the Diamond Diva is one of their main fundraisers. According to Steve last year’s  Diamond Divas raised between four and five thousand dollars for CARA’s Help Line.

Professional female impersonators like Geoffrey Lewis (his stage name is Julia Jeffries) are happy to support the Help Line. “ I know that it can be hard for young people and sometimes they need to talk to someone.”

Lewis enjoys the challenge of the art of impersonation. “It takes a true actor to study each character that you are portraying to make sure that you look and act exactly like that person”.

Jeffries main character is Judy Garland but he also does Cher, Celine, Madonna and many more. On the night of the Diamond Divas Jeffries will be performing his perfected Judy Garland and his newest character, Lady Gaga.

Coming from a family of performers, Jeffries was brought up on the stage and started early in theater, dance and musicals in his home town of Fredericton. He creates his characters by studying their film footage, and he designs and sews his own costumes.

“It is not just putting on a dress and ‘lip syncing’ to a song” says Geoffrey, “You have to have talent, and you have to have the drive and passion to do it too. It is a big challenge”.

Steve Laviolette is a fan of Lewis/Jeffries, saying of his performance that “You’d swear that it is Judy Garland on stage”.

Steve says that the Moncton community has been very supportive of the event. “We work on a zero budget and we have been very fortunate to have support from community business sponsorships. For example, Moore’s Clothing for Men helps out with my tuxedo, and this is the seventh year they have done that”.

Moncton radio stations give the event publicity by giving out tickets, and there is a silent auction during the evening in the lobby of the theater with offerings from many stores as well as VIA Rail tickets for two to Montreal from Moncton with a sleeper car and meals.

Laviolette says that the GLBT community in the Maritimes, “has grown, but there is still prejudice out there. As with everybody and everywhere, you will always see some sort of prejudice. But they have now had ten years of Pride Parades in Moncton, and the education thing is going well. People are tending to understand it a little better”.

Karen will be speaking at the Diamond Diva event in order to raise awareness about the CARA Help Line and encourage volunteers.

“And we are in desperate need for volunteers”, says Karen, “there is no doubt about that, but that is not uncommon. Getting volunteers is hard for all non-profits”.

The Helpline is completely anonymous and confidential. Volunteers, who are given training and a criminal record check, can pick their own hours and  have the use of a Help Line cell phone.

In 2009 CARA received 1878 telephone calls. Karen sees the Helpline as emotional CPR. She says everyone knows to call 911 when they smell smoke. “But if you smell emotional smoke, you can call the Help Line. If we can make one person’s life a little better, if we can keep one person from taking their life, then we have provided a service”.

What: Diamond Divas, Female Impersonators and Special Guests

When: Saturday February 20th 2010 at 8PM.

Where: The Capital Theater

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Available at the Capitol Theater Box Office (506) 856-4379

or  www.capitol.nb.ca.

CARA Help Line – “Ligne Telephonique CARA Helpline Inc.” : 506-859-4357

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