FABULOUS FIRST FRIDAYS in Pangea lives up to its name
Created in 2019 as a Gay Pride event, FABULOUS FIRST FRIDAYS quickly grew into a monthly variety show playing Pangea on the first Friday of each month, and the hit show was building an audience when the pandemic struck. Reopening last Friday and a show, Fabulous First Fridays is back with a revenge and wraps them up at the downtown club. With the original production produced and curated by Gerry Geddes, Fabulous First Fridays has gone from the drawing board to a repertoire company featuring over an hour of representative performances of the type found on a cabaret stage. Geddes assigns a theme, sometimes strongly suggesting numbers that he (according to his admission after the Friday show) “just wants to hear them sing” and the men’s team leaves for the races. Yes, it’s a men’s repertoire company which at first glance might seem a bit exclusive, but when the act first premiered (as a Pride event) Mr. Geddes hosted a show depicting his experience as a gay man, and this was the one that featured other gay men. Today, as Fabulous First Fridays takes its first steps on the Yellow Brick Road, the company is (mostly) made up of homosexuals, and Geddes is planning a future evening of strictly female talent. As a show, Fabulous First Fridays is still a toddler, still growing and sure to grow and change. In fact, it was interesting to see an evening of all-male talent as cabaret is an entertainment industry that relies on The Ladies’ shoulders: when you think of cabaret, there’s no way the mind doesn’t surrender. first Marilyn Maye, Natalie Douglas, Karen Mason and the late Pearl Bailey and Julie Wilson. It was fun spending ninety minutes with The Boyz on Friday nights, getting to know some talent that was new to me, and taking notes on what acts I had to watch out for; I don’t have to do this with girls. I know who the cabaret ladies are, when they perform and whether or not I should be there – and although Gerry should continue to think inclusively (maybe programming women, trans / non-binary , and slip into every other month), there’s no reason the Fabulous First Fridays shouldn’t remain, at its core, an evening of entertainment presented by gay men. After all, what they put on the Pangea stage on Friday night was an absolute delight.
Celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pangea, Mr. Geddes presented, for two numbers divided into acts, singers Brian Childers, Matt Di Pasquale, George Winters, Billy Lykken and Andre Montgomery, songwriter Wells Hanley and (for a long segment) magician Patrick Swailes Caldwell. With very little talk from host Geddes and Yasuhiko Fukuoka’s consistently spectacular piano skills, each of the performers had their chance at the microphone, usually making good choices in their material, to show off their versatility (like the hilarious take of Lykken on “The Ladies Who Lunch” – brilliantly arranged by Fukuoka – contrasted by a simple blues “I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good”) and each of the gentlemen charmed his audience while showing what is most unique to them . The handsome Mr. Childers appears to be a crooner with a propensity for intimate music from artists like Mary Chapin Carpenter and The Indigo Girls, while an eccentric George Winters looks at comedy numbers that he himself has contributed. to create – he scored a real hit with an upbeat performance of his hilarious “Pretty Little Dress”, and while Andre Montgomery goes with a pretty ballad like the Mencken & Pitchford song “Sailing On”, where he lives is in numbers like “Too Old To Die Young” which give him the chance to make others laugh with his flamboyant flair for the funny.
Wonderfully interesting for the evening’s debates, Wells Hanley whose songwriting podcast, I WROTE THIS SONG FOR YOU, gives him a unique format for a show like this: the song-making discussion, followed by the song itself. Even more interesting for the evening was the inclusion of Patrick Swailes Caldwell’s magical act – a few minutes of comedic chatter accompanied by an impressive light helping hand, all performed by a funny guy with a stamp of character; it was one of the highlights of the evening, so much so that this writer now has a Google Alert to inform him of Caldwell’s upcoming performances.
Highlights of the evening, however, were Matt Di Pasquale’s contrasting performances of a comedic twist to the Berlin tune “What’ll I Do” and the heartbreaking “Angels, Punks & Raging Queens”, and two performances. orals of Geddes himself. Di Pasquale has done perfectly with numbers from both ends of the spectrum, showing himself as a musical storyteller to watch, while Gerry has gone all out on The Moth with pickup-themed chapters from his upcoming memoir. By reading his loose-leaf pages, Geddes not only demonstrated his ability to tell stories, he also showed his prowess as a storyteller; it’s not an easy performing art, and those who can’t master it quickly lose their audience to texting, napping, or even worse, chatting. Gerry Geddes held his audience in the palm of his hand, where they should be because the pages are good, especially in Gerry’s own voice.
It’s a laid back night out at Fabulous First Fridays and customers should feel happy to know that there is a place where they can sit and relax, get ready to have fun and have fun, take a bite or drink and hang out with The Boyz. Indeed, the program is aptly named because it was fabulous, as should be a Friday night outing. As the variety show continues each month, reclaiming its post-pandemic legs, as Gerry and his representational company refine their aesthetics and implement special programming to make the series more inclusive, they’re going to have a series built. for last. As it stands, Fabulous First Fridays is already set to be the must-see series on downtown nightlife, and that’s pretty good for a show that just ended two years ago. After all, what could be more festive than a group of gays gathered around a piano to have fun in a cabaret room?
Fabulous First Fridays plays Pangea on the first Friday of every month. Get information and tickets for this and other great shows on the Pangea website HERE.
The Fabulous First Fridays cast gets a five out of five microphone rating for performing their entire show without the use of a lyrics sheet, tablet, or music stand.
Photos of Stephen Mosher