Review: Truth/Dare: A Satire (With Dance)

Madonna

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre hosts Madonna-homage royalty in Toronto

If you can imagine anything more perfectly frothy, more utterly camp, than a Madonna sing-and-dance-along retelling of her infamous 1991 film Madonna: Truth or Dare then I would like to know about it. Until then, I will be crowning Salvatore Antonio and Adamo Ruggiero’s royal (as in: queeny) homage to Madonna in Truth/Dare: A Satire (With Dance) at Buddies In Bad Times as the actual, non-euphemistic tits of this Pride season.

You should know: there are few seats, this is a dance-along situation. It’s also a sing-along and a snark-along, as many members of the audience who had seen the movie a few times recited the dialogue along with the actors onstage. Terrence Bryant catches up those audience members who haven’t seen the original film with a narration that puts one in mind of descriptive video for the blind, if they let Michael Musto have a few drinks and take a go at writing it. And the cast frequently clears the stage to refresh their drinks and get their dance on.

The cast, helmed by Antonio as a bearded, lipsticked Madonna, is the real charm of the show. Such Toronto theatre luminaries as recently Dora’d Gavin Crawford, Keith Cole, Sharron Matthews, Adamo Ruggiero and Damian Atkins are joined by a few promising, playful newcomers (relatively speaking) and the effect is a sort of easygoing, too-cute-to-fail performance firmly anchored by a lot of serious talent

All the performers strike the perfect balance of being in the show and ready to do well with their various characters, without taking what is clearly a shared lark so seriously that it bums anybody else out. They’re loose in the joints, familiar, friendly and welcoming – all of which creates a sense of casualness, even though no one misses a cue, not once, not ever.

And there are brilliant surprises: Sharron Matthews hitting impossible notes with aplomb, Gavin Crawford with a pitch-perfect Sandra Bernhardt, and Damian Atkins killing it as Madonna’s childhood friend Moira, complete with the accent and – at just the right second – the confounded, forlorn expression.

Are they making great and timeless artwork? Well, probably not, no. Is it just about the most fun thing a true-blue Madonna fan could possible imagine? I believe so, based on the number of concert tees and studded bras on display. Even if you only count the ones on girls.

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photo by Salvatore Antonio