In the age of Glee and Lady Gaga, some may forget what it was like when doll playing was done in secret, or listening to (or singing along with) your favourite diva was done quietly in the closet.
The all too familiar struggle between fulfilling our desires and society’s expectations is precisely what makes Mickey & Judy, Micheal Hughes’ pseudo memoir so endearing. A touching tribute to his idol, Judy Garland, this hour long one man show is a look at the powerful and positive effect an artist can have on someone’s adolescence, particularly in the lives of LGBT youth.
As is the case with almost everyone, social conceptions of gender and gender identity were forcibly massaged into our growing and stretching bodies and curious minds. With loving parents who supported his unorthodox ways (such as occasionally cross dressing) by his side, Hughes’ story is an insightful look at what happens when parents don’t stifle their children’s eccentricities and do their best to understand and support what makes their child special, gay or otherwise.
“The theme of the show is discovering who you are, accepting yourself and not letting society tell you who or what you need to be you,” he explains, “as told through my struggles as a kid”.
Though some may scoff at the cliché of Garland as a centerpiece of a show about struggling with one’s sexuality, Hughes’ sees it differently.
“I used to struggle with the cliche of loving Judy Garland and the stigma around her but what it means to me is what it means to me”.
And this is precisely what makes Mickey & Judy special. This is his experience and it’s refreshing to see someone forgoing trying to appear “cool” for the sake of getting people to see his show.
There’s a moment early on where Hughes describes how Garland, opted to break out into song whenever she found herself at a loss for words. It seems that the same could be said for Hughes’ himself as he walked us through the comical ups and poignant downs of his childhood. Hughes intersperses hilarious anecdotes recounting his upbringing, such as his experiences visiting a psychiatrist at the age of 4, with classics such as ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ and ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ throughout the show.
With his unabashed love for Garland and Broadway as a whole, Hughes, an established recording artist, appears extremely comfortable belting out tune after tune. The true soul of the show comes through though when Hughes’ takes the time to elaborate on the frustrations he encountered growing up in a world that frowned upon his tendency to choose to play with ‘girl’ toys, while opting to try on his sister’s clothes before choosing his.
The show does seem a little off balance at times, leaning a little too heavily on the music and less on the confessionals – because as he himself put it, “I cant always speak but I can sing, I have trouble expressing my emotions”. It would’ve been interesting to hear more about the findings his psychiatrist produced or Hughes’ reaction to them.
Regardless check out Mickey and Judy for it’s touching and funny look at something so many of us can relate to. Should show tunes and Broadway magic also be your thing, then you’re sure to find yourself in for a treat.
Catch ‘Mickey & Judy’ July 12 (10:30 p.m.), Wednesday, July 13 (4:00 p.m.), Thursday, July 14 (1:45 p.m.), or Sunday, July 17 (3:30 p.m.). (Running Time: 55 minutes with no intermission). Tickets are $11 in advance and $10 at the door. To purchase advance tickets, click here.