Maid to Order
“I can quite easily think of opposites but it isn’t men and women.”
— Dame Rebecca West
Before the Restoration period female roles on the English stage — including all of Shakespeare’s great women characters — were played by boys or men. Since the acceptance of actresses, female impersonation has generally been restricted to comic roles in the Western theatre, where it is now an axiom that a man in a dress is always good for a laugh.
Comic turns in drag have appeared in many recent Saskatchewan stage productions, including Charley’s Aunt, Cinderella, Gigi, Saskatoon Pie!, and Ms. Purdy Parsimonias: A Rez Christmas, an ‘Indianized’ take on the Dickens classic.
“Its ancient jokes shouldn’t be so funny, the shameless coincidences that form its plot shouldn’t be so forgivable, and the mere sight of a man in a dress shouldn’t sustain a whole show. But they are, they do and he does.”
— Saskatoon Star Phoenix review of Charley's Aunt by Cam Fuller
In 1994 Saskatoon director Henry Woolf revived the time-honored theatrical tradition of pantomime with a production of Cinderella at the University of Saskatchewan’s Greystone Theatre.
Spectacular comic drag enlivens the final act of Geoffrey Ursell’s 1982 musical comedy Saskatoon Pie! in which the whole cast performs a parody of a cross-dressed Victorian operetta entitled Magic Reversals.
“I hoped that, in the midst of all the laughter at Mayor Raker, Mr. Shrike, Mr. Ink, and Percy appearing in the operetta dressed as women, some questions about the nature of male and female roles, some questions about who has power and why, popped into the minds of the people watching.”
— Geoffrey Ursell
— Opening song of the operetta