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Once Upon a Drag Storytime

Home > Melbourne > Comedy | Family | Gay & Lesbian | Theatre
by Danielle Norton (subscribe)
I'm a freelance travel, lifestyle and content writer based in Melbourne. If you need the right words, I have them. Feel free to connect with me or have a look at my site for examples of my published work
Don't miss the drag show for kids
Once Upon A Drag Storytime presented by Po Po Mo Co.

Approaching the Footscray Community Arts Centre with three eleven-year-old kids for a 'storytime' show I have to admit I was feeling a little worried. Despite their strong interest in drag shows (I often wonder if Ru Paul Netflix marathons are standard in every household), they were grumbling about ideas that storybooks are for babies and toddlers.

We decided to give it a go, with the knowledge that it might be for younger kids but that, as more mature members of the audience, we could still analyse whether or not Popocomo could put on a good and useful show.

drag kings, play
Keith, Gavin and Mark.

From almost the first second, the gags came thick and strong. Gavin (Kimberly Twiner) and Keith were on the stage looking for the third member of their trio. When Keith announced that "Mark's just having a quick poo", the audience was theirs. There's nothing like a poo joke to keep a bunch of kids in stitches, except, of course, fart noises. These clever players were on to this idea and punctuated the show with regular pops and bangs. Mark eventually appeared, relieved, and the show rolled on.

The drag kings were dressed in their blokiest outfits for the event. Gavin was in a shiny pink suit and tie, dark, shaggy mullet and (sorry Gav) obviously drawn-on moustache. Keith, in charcoal pinstripe with a brown shirt and pale blue tie, was the epitome of daggy, and Mark in bright red pants and jacket, pink shirt and blue tie added another splash of colour to the stage.

"Does anyone like stories?" the three asked the audience. "Does anyone like drag? Does anyone like wearing their mum's high heels?" Clearly, the answer was yes because the crowd went wild, cheering and clapping. The rainbow of families in the auditorium jiggled in their seats as the first song, New Sensation by INX, boomed out.

The three actors in this very physical comedy have obviously considered and analysed their audience extensively. They had the experienced school teachers' incredible ability to know exactly when the kids would need a music break, a group clapping moment, a fart joke (thanks Mark) or a chance to stand up and stretch their legs.

The three picture books chosen for storytime were excellent stories which highlighted the real theme of this show; inclusion. The Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz reminds audiences of the gender stereotypes and expectations on people that exist from birth. Julian is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love, is a lovely tale of a boy and his desire to be a mermaid, and King and King, by Stern Nijland and illustrated by Linda De Haan, is a fractured fairytale that tells the story of a prince who is pressured to find a princess but eventually meets his prince.

The story themes were not new or challenging ideas for the very receptive audience. As the stories were played out the kids were creeping up on the stage, inching their cushions closer and closer to the actors. This continued as the actors ran a bubble machine up and down the aisles, including those who were a little more shy.

One of our favourite scenes was when the famous drag queen, Rosy Cheeks, finally made her appearance in her long sparkly pink sequinned dress and sang. Gavin, Keith and Mark had been talking about her for the whole show, building the anticipation and we were so thrilled when she came on.

The incredible Rosy Cheeks!

The show finished with a dance party and half the audience joined the actors on the stage for a few disco tunes. It was so much fun to see everyone shaking their bodies and enjoying the music. And, frankly, it's exactly what a bunch of small children need when they have been sitting down for an hour.

After-show dance party

The vox pop camera set up in the foyer was quite a hit too. Kids of their generation love the chance to play to the camera and give their opinions.

This is a wonderful show that opens up the conversation for kids (or their parents) who are a little different from the heteronormative, gender-stereotyped 'norm'. My kids thought it was a great show for younger kids. We gave it a 10 out of 10 for fun and loved that it dissected an important social issue in a way that even tiny kids could appreciate.

Once Upon a Drag Storytime will be coming to a festival near you soon. Grab your kids, your nan, your mum or your dad and book a ticket. Check our the Popomoco Facebook site for more info.
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*Danielle Norton was invited as a guest
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Why? To see an awesome show with excellent messages.
Where: Coming to a festival or community space near you.
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