Preview | Of A Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical

Ecce Homo Theatre's Alistair Newton gives us a sneak peek at his latest creation

Kimberly Persona as Lady Gaga. Photo by Tanja-Tiziana.

High culture meets low art in a new show celebrating the eccentric world of pop star Lady Gaga. Described as a "dance floor dialectic," Of A Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical hits the stage this month at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Here, writer and director Alistair Newton of Ecce Home Theatre gives us some background on this colourful production.

Theatromania: What inspired of A Monstrous Child?

AN: The piece was inspired by two major sources: the first was a rather brilliant essay Gaga wrote while she was a drama student at NYU that I  came across online. In it she uses the work of Spencer Tunick—a New York artist most famous for his photographs of massive installations of naked bodies in public spaces—to speak about societal attitudes towards nakedness and freakishness. I became supremely intrigued when I realized there might be a powerful and curious mind behind Gaga. The other source was a series of interviews I conducted with Tyson James, a fabulous actor, drag performer and Little Monster. Tyson plays a kind-of-version of himself in the piece, and his verbatim interviews about his connection to Gaga form the spine of the text.

Theatromania: How would you describe the production in a sentence or two?

AN: Leigh Bowery serves as master of ceremonies for one super-fan’s journey through the artists and ideas that helped create Lady Gaga; far and away the sexiest most spectacular and emotionally wrenching history lesson you’re ever likely to see, featuring many legends of queer performance offering insights, praise and venom to Mother Monster.

Theatromania: What is it about Bruce Dow and Kimberly Persona that convinced you they were right for the parts of Leigh Bowery and Lady Gaga?

AN: I’ve adored Bruce Dow since I saw him perform in Cabaret at Stratford—he’s not just a generous and insightful collaborator, to me he’s also the apotheosis of the Brechtian ideal: his performances are an intoxicating mix of deep emotional investment with intellectual engagement, expressed with showmanship equal to the great stars of vaudeville, or the golden age of Broadway. Leigh is a legend and Bruce is the only actor I’ve ever seen who can do him justice. As for Kim, I basically wrote the show especially for her—she even spent the last three years learning to play the piano just to play Gaga. Kim is an artist of real impact and great emotional depth; she’s a Bruce Dow in-training.

Theatromania: What do you hope audiences take away from this performance?

AN: Lady Gaga is an endlessly fascinating character—far more so than I thought when I began the project in fact—and she intersects with so many socio-cultural and socio-political ideas: cultural notions of authenticity and originality,  appropriation in art, the overlap between liberation and excess, sexuality, consumerism, self-expressions, empowerment narratives and the list goes on. 

I view the theatre as a moral institution with a social function, so I always hope my audiences leave one of my shows having had both their emotions and their intellects engaged and challenged. If the piece can entertain, provoke, and titillate in more or less equal measure, then I feel satisfied.

Of A Monstrous Child: A Gaga Musical runs from May 14 to 26 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.


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