Brett Colby — pictured during what turned out NOT to be a dress rehearsal at McLoone’s — heads a stellar cast in the third annual edition of GAY & BE GLITTER, the fundraiser revue going up this Thursday and Friday.
Like, who wouldn’t throw his sainted grandmother beneath a Weezer’s Ice truck for such billing? And featured so prominently on the nicely designed print ads and postcards, yet — in a stand-alone bubble of the sort usually reserved for claims like “NOW with 40% MORE Brett Colby!”
And yet. Brett Noorigian Colby — genre-bending vocal artist, actor, activist, advocate for all things true and just, and titular STAR of the event known as Gay and Be Glitter 3 — is a humble man who disdains such attention, despite the loud smoking jackets and occasional gowns. A man whose ongoing calling to service and charity co-exists in curious harmony with a wicked sense of humor and a refreshingly un-serious perspective on his own seriously considerable skills (with occasional meddling from a barely controlled alter ego by name of Lyle).
Call him Emcee. Or Narrator, a role that fit him like a leopard-print Snuggie in the 2010 ReVision Theatre production of Rocky Horror. Better still, RINGMASTER of the musical maelstrom and cacophonous comedic commerce swirling about the DooWop, “Howard Jetsons” saucer that is Tim McLoone’s Supper Club.
When the third annual edition of the fun(d)raiser mirth-and-music revue (produced by the nonprofit, nonpareil troupers at Cabaret for Life, Inc.) hits the herringboned hardwoods of the Asbury boardwalk for a pair of performances this Thursday and Friday, July 28-29, it will once again be in the service of a most worthy cause — but, as the ringmaster is quick to point out, that scarcely means we need get all maudlin about it.
“Queens NEVER start on time!” A tense onstage moment between Andrez Fredericks and Brett Colby, during the otherwise “zany romp” known as GAY & BE GLITTER 3.
A benefit for The Center in Asbury Park and its ongoing assistance programs for local people living with HIV/AIDS, Gay & Be Glitter (the title’s a twist and a tweak on a famous aria from the “floperetta” Candide, composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrical assist from, among others, Lillian Hellman, Stephen Sondheim and Dorothy Parker!) is described in its own publicity as “a zany romp through fairyland; a fantastical revue of songs and scenes that will keep you giggling for days.”
Colby — whose most recent collaboration with Cabaret For Life was their Real Housewives of Monmouth County production last May — describes the gig as “a couple of fun shows with a lot of comedy…everything moves along briskly; it never bogs down into big-ballad drama or takes itself too seriously.”
The veteran character tenor, who’s toured Europe and North America with a cavalcade of leading companies (and who became known to listeners of the Dr. Dre in the Morning radio show as the guy who translates rap records into “Hip-Hopera” arias) is hardly alone on the Supper Club stage. He’ll be joined for the two 8pm performances by a savvy cast of cabaret-circuit song stylists, actors and musicians that includes Kristin Butcher, Samantha Croce, Andrez Fredericks, James Gay, Jonathan Haye, Leonie Higgins, Vince Mottern, Lou Ruvolo, Jake Shatsky, Felix Truex, Heather Varley and Andrew Winans — all under the direction of Cabaret for Life founder (and author of some one dozen books on pet care and companionship) Andrew De Prisco.
And, although he professes that “I don’t usually like to do drag,” he’ll also be stepping into the shoes and shoulder pads of some of the great divas of Broadway for a set of blockbusters from the likes of Evita and Sunset Boulevard — as well as “an obscure Bea Arthur number from Mame.”
“It’s hard for me to sing women’s songs, because they’re in the wrong key,” says Colby, whose crooning of the tune in question (“The Moon Song”) promises to be a star-studded highlight in its fully costumed form. “But the Bea Arthur song, written for Bea Arthur to sing, is strangely enough a very comfortable fit.”
All in a night’s work for the comic specialist, whose easy facility with a gallery of characterizations masks a very real and formidable work ethic. We had the pleasure of working with Colby on the (somewhat ill-fated) TriCity Arts Tour events of a few years back — during an interval in which he served as president of the Arts Coalition of Asbury Park — and quickly discovered him to be a proactive problem-solver whose energy should be channeled out to every likeminded arts and civic org on the map. The kind of guy who would deliver a showstopper performance on an outdoor stage one moment, and five minutes later be part of the crew cleaning up the scene; rearranging sawhorses and picking up Skittles wrappers.
Colby’s tenure with ArtsCAP led to a stint as an exec with Manasquan’s Algonquin ARTS Theatre, which led in turn to his present post as Development Associate at the local nonprofit The Arc of Monmouth. It’s on behalf of The Arc that Colby has been using his genius for the good of mankind on his next high-profile project — Scrabble by the Sea, a fundraising tournament (with two preliminary preview sessions in Red Bank and Asbury) scheduled for August 20 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, and about which more to come in these paperless pages.
For now, Colby is putting all his tiles on this week’s Gay & Be Glitter, a show about which he muses, “I’m hoping that the title isn’t off-putting to people of other persuasions!”
“I’m just trying to emphasize that this isn’t some huge in-joke for some insular crowd,” he explains. “We want everyone, gay or straight, to feel welcome at the show…everybody will get the humor.”
“In other words, it’s filthy enough for everyone!”
The Friday night performance of GAY & BE GLITTER 3 is close to selling out as we post this, but tickets ($25 donation to The Center in AP) are still available for Thursday 7/28, and you can reserve yours by calling 1.877.CFL.TKTS.