REDCAT (the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) proudly presents the West Coast premiere of Arias with a Twist, a bigger-than-life cabinet of curiosities created by Joey Arias (Zumanity's "Mistress of Seduction") and legendary puppeteer Basil Twist. Arias with a Twist opens Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at REDCAT and runs for a limited four-week run through Sunday, December 13, 2009.
In this deliriously madcap fantasy, of which The New York Times wrote "Goes the distance, all the way over the rainbow," the soaring song stylings of demented diva Joey Arias are surrounded by an eye-popping theatrical extravaganza conjured by a team of puppeteers directed by the legendary Basil Twist. Channeling lurid celluloid dreams, macabre nightmares and bizarre premonitions, the adventure begins with an alien abduction and concludes with a stupendous Busby Berkeley-esque finale. Along the way, the throaty chanteuse belts out pop, rock and jazz standards--including Billie Holiday's "You've Changed"--as Twist and company work their magic with vintage marionettes, anatomically correct puppets and fantastical scenic elements.
Their collaboration, which premiered in June 2008 at HERE Arts Center in New York City, prompted critic Ben Brantley of The New York Times to exclaim, "Eat your heart out, Madonna. The chanteuses who play Madison Square Garden and football stadiums have never experienced the imaginative heights of spectacle with which Basil Twist surrounds Joey Arias..." Brought to life by a star-studded team, including costumes designed by renowned fashion and fragrance designer Thierry Manfred Mugler and costumes execution by Chris March of "Project Runway" fame, Arias with a Twist combines projected animation, exquisite puppetry and ingenious stagecraft for an exhilarating and unprecedented theatrical spectacle not to be missed.
The performances at REDCAT celebrate a triumphant return home to Los Angeles for performance artist, cabaret singer and drag artist, Joey Arias. A founding member of the Groundlings, the longtime "Mistress of Seduction" in Zumanity, Cirque du Soleil's adult-themed Las Vegas show, and well-known for his uncanny portrayal of "Billie Holiday," Joey Arias has made an indelible mark on the music, fashion, nightlife, and performance art scenes in Los Angeles, New York and around the world.
Collaborating with Arias is the award-winning Basil Twist, a third generation puppeteer who is most famous for his Folies Bergère-style underwater staging of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Also coming in 2010 to Los Angeles are Twist's Petrushka and his collaboration with Paul Reuben, the recently rescheduled The Pee-Wee Herman Show.
The performances of Arias with a Twist at REDCAT are co-sponsored by Outfest and funded in part with generous support from Ovation TV, Judith O. and Robert E. Rubin.
Most recently, renowned legendary Joey Arias enjoyed a wildly successful run as the emcee "Mistress of Seduction" in the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil production Zumanity. Revered since the 1980s as a central figure in the underground New York art scene responsible for recreating drag as high art, Arias has performed worldwide at venues including Carnegie Hall, The Freedom Theatre in London and on a transatlantic world tour into the cabaret clubs of Paris, Tokyo, Germany, Finland, Astonia, Canada and England. Off stage, Joey has amassed an extensive resume of media appearances as an actor, vocalist and outrageous personality. On film, he has appeared in Mondo New York, Big Top Pee Wee, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Wigstock The Movie, Flawless and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. Television credits include "Saturday Night Live," Ann Magnuson's "Vandemonium" (Cinemax), Elvira's MTV Halloween Special, HBO's "Dragtime," HBO's "Real Sex" and "Gayer Than Gay" on VH1, along with numerous appearances on a wide variety of talk shows and programs. Additionally, Arias has produced several of his own recordings including Arias on Holiday, Strange Fruit, Jazzo Lozo, God Shave the Queen and live recordings of StarLust in Berlin and Bar D'O in New York. Official website: www.joeyarias.com
Basil Twist, originally from San Francisco, is a third generation puppeteer who lives and works in New York City, and is the sole American graduate of the Ecole Superieure National des Arts de la Marionnette in France. Original creations include The Araneidae Show, Symphonie Fantastique, Petrushka, Master Peter's Puppet Show, Dogugaeshi, and La Bella Dormente nel Bosco. Collaborations include Behind The Lid with the Late Lee Nagrin and Red Beads with Lee Bruer/Mabou Mines. Since 1998 Twist has continually expanded the realm of puppetry by creating and touring new works that integrate live music. He has partnered with such premiere institutions as The Spoleto Festival, Lincoln Center Festival, Lincoln Center's Voice and Visions Series, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Japan Society and Gotham Chamber Opera. Twist premiered his Hansel and Gretel with The Houston Grand Opera and Atlanta Opera Company. His work has been recognized with an OBIE Award, four UNIMA Awards for Excellence in Puppetry, two Bessie Awards, a New York Innovative Theatre Award, and an American Theatre Wing/Henry Hewes Design Award. Mr. Twist is a Guggenheim Fellow and is an inaugural United States Artist Ford Fellow. Twist is the director of the Dream Music Puppetry Program at HERE. Official website: www.basiltwist.com.