David Ferguson recounts a night out to see the incredible new show by Irish queer artist Stefan Fae, titled ‘There Will Be Rainbows: An evening of songs and tales of Stefan Fae’s recent New York City shenanigans’.
The Friday evening of the show produced the best weather of the year so far and happily work had let me out early for good behaviour. I had arranged to meet my friend for pre-show drinks and he had chosen All My Friends, which was only a ten-minute walk from the venue.
Not long after we got there, guys in an array of interesting suits began to arrive. “There’s a party on and we haven’t been invited,” I quipped. The guys in question were part of the LGBTQ+-inclusive rugby club Emerald Warriors, who were having their anniversary party a stone’s throw away at the Guinness Storehouse. After the rugby boys left fashionably late, we decided we should make our way to the show.
As we walked to Fumbally, I was wondering if my friend, not Irish, was going to get some of the intrinsic Irishness of a Stefan Fae performance. There Will Be Rainbows was not the first show by Fae I had seen. My husband had introduced to me the world of Spicebag, a show that saw Fae and Sarah Devereux (aka The Dirt Bird) take the traditional variety show and queer it up a notch. The talent included, as the concept suggests, a variety of performers from the likes of Hyacinth Bucket’s favourite agony aunt, Attracta Tension, to the Wild Geeze, and both Stefan Fae and The Dirt Bird also taking part.
Stefan, the creator of the show, has the kind of dress sense that I wish I was brave enough to have. He sometimes performs in dresses that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a 1930s cabaret show in Berlin, with sparkles, jewellery and some interesting accompaniments.
His singing voice is capable of wowing crowds with songs in the style of lively show tunes, but he often belies his outward appearance with low-key, beautiful performances, sometimes accompanied by his ukulele.
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While we were seated at the venue, suddenly the main star burst onto the premises with his suitcase dragging behind him as if he came straight from the airport, as he is back in Ireland from his current jaunt in the US.
He wore a dress fit for the summer season, adorned in flowers as it was. It was accompanied by his usual glitter and glamour and topped off with what looked like a bridal bouquet atop his head.
There Will Be Rainbows was all about his American escapades, with an array of songs accompanied by Paul Prior on piano. As he told some of his wonderful, often hilarious, stories, I was reminded of Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers, albeit without the character assassinations.
As usual, there were some lively crowd-pleasing songs like ‘Take A Walk On The Wild Side’ but I was captivated by the more inward-looking moments. An unaccompanied and reclaimed version of ‘The Auld Triangle’ called ‘The Pink Triangle’ showcased his vocal skills, as Stefan told the crowd about his emphasised feeling of Irishness while being away in The Big Apple. As he walked through the crowd, singing, the audience dutifully joined in with the performance.
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Because it was Bealtaine, he then decided to perform the cleansing ritual, by lighting candles to burn away the horrible things happening in America and around the world. He discussed the movements of boys from all across America to New York and this inspired his singing of ‘Beautiful Boyz’, a song that is a homage to French novelist, poet and playwright, Jean Genet.
As the final song for There Will Be Rainbows, Stefan chose to sing ‘Martha’ by Tom Waits, but in a Bette Midler style. It ended the evening on a high and the audience was supremely impressed.
After the show, we left the venue and headed back to All My Friends for a few more drinks. The mood there had changed, turning from quiet afternoon pub to disco nightclub, but we were happy to chat and people-watch some more.
My friend enjoyed the show a lot, but admitted one embarrassing moment when Stefan was singing ‘The Pink Triangle’. “He was standing next to me, singing it, and I think I was the only person in the room that didn’t know the words,” he said.
If you’re looking for more of David Ferguson’s content, check out his previous GCN work here.
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