A Girl and Her Gay Fool Soar to New Heights in 'Once Upon a Pole'
The story of a girl struggling to find love is well-known. The idea of that girl having a gay best friend to help her along the way has become a standard archetype in recent years. But combine that concept with a rock musical that's interwoven with classic fairy tales, and set the actors on trapezes and poles normally reserved for strippers, and you've got a new take that's both familiar and fantastical. What you have is Once Upon a Pole.
Labeled a "rock ‘n’ roll vertical dance experience," Once Upon a Pole is the brainchild of Kelly Maglia, founder and artistic director of Kelly Maglia Vertical Theatre, and the lead actor in OUP. Maglia is known for being a pioneer in redefining pole art, having produced several shows on L.A.’s Sunset Strip. She brings a sophistication and theatricality to an art form most closely identified with strippers, while offering a good dash of camp and comedy for a modern audience.
“[We're] taking pole dance to a new level, combining text with stunning movement in the air and on the ground to create a new theatrical experience,” says Maglia, whose character in OUP is named Rose. “It’s very exciting to combine my passions for dance, theatre, playwriting, rock music and circus into one unique form.”
It was through Maglia's involvement in the circus community that she met two of her male co-stars. The first is Timber Brown (pictured right), the 2011 International Pole Athlete Champion who has performed in numerous productions and special events around the world. The ripped, blond stud plays Rose's first love, and his inherent sexiness shows as he fearlessly flings his body from multiple poles on the stage, moving with the kind of effortless abandon one associates with super heroes and not real live humans on a stage. As he drops, flips and flies through the air, it's no wonder why any young girl would have a crush on him.
But the main man in Rose's life isn't a love interest, it's her gay best friend-- the voice in her head, trying to keep her on the right path. Named "The Fool," this character is played by aerialist-actor-writer and former Gay.net Editor-In-Chief Rick Andreoli (pictured below), who's trapeze skills have taken center stage at everything from Gay Pride celebrations to the Los Angeles Leather Coalition's 2012 event. In OUP, Andreoli glides around the static trapeze, high above Maglia and the pole performers, moving with an ease that defies his muscly mass. And cracking jokes as he does it.
"I have a hard time taking myself too seriously," Andreoli laughs. "Besides, I'm a gay guy doing a show called Once Upon a Pole-- which kind of sounds like the name of porn-- so I think it's important to have fun with it. Some people don't understand the artistry that goes with real pole dancing, but they're curious. So I can be the voice that not only helps Rose on her journey, but lets the audience settle in for what's to come. That way it's accessible to both pole dancing fans as well as the general public."
Indeed, the meteoric rise of pole dance as an international sport and fitness trend is partially responsible for the popularity of Maglia's shows. In just the last three years, pole dance competitions have sprouted up around the globe. Even the Olympic committee is considering a proposal to recognize pole dance as a legitimate sport. Maglia acknowledges that there’s a huge buzz around pole right now, “But the issue I have with competitions is that they usually focus on athleticism rather than the art of pole," she explains. "It is my singular mission to showcase not only the amazing feats the human body is capable of, but to make an audience feel something through superb story-telling.”
However, while the physical feats in this show are stunning, what it really comes down to is Rose's story to find love, and the gay fool who helps her along the way.
"I based this character on my relationship with my gay best friend," she says of The Fool. "He's that voice in your head that you don't always listen to, but who stays by your side even when you're making the dumbest mistakes of your life. The one who gives you hell when you're being dumb, and who's right there to celebrate with champagne when you have your victories. That gay guy / straight girl relationship is very dear to me, and I love that Rick and I can show it off-- in a really magical way."
“Once Upon a Pole” will play at 8 p.m.
Friday-Sunday, October 12-14
Club Fais Do Do
5253 W. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016.
For tickets, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/273661
or call 800-838-3006.
Bottom image: JayPG Photography @ www.JayPG.com