By Alannah Maher
Minnie Cooper is an icon of Australian drag. You can catch her performing across Sydney five nights a week, mentoring new performers, and sometimes even spot her on the tele.
As one of the faces of the Sydney Fringe Festival, Minnie will be bringing her first one woman show to the stage. From Chorus Boy to Leading Lady invites you to meet the man behind the makeup, Aaron Farley, as he shares the story of his life through a series of classic musical theatre songs, parodies, comedy and of course and – drag.
This show will be a special and intimate performance. “I rarely sing [live] in drag, because it’s very personal to me,” says Farley.
The story starts with his childhood, growing up in Western Sydney and feeling like the ‘black sheep’ of the family.
“They all liked sports, but I liked dressing up in my sister’s clothes and playing with Barbie,” he says, reminiscing about a particular orange ballroom dress.
Farley will share tales from his career in musical theatre that saw him performing on London’s West End, including how a random offer to perform in drag at the Kings Cross Hotel when he was ‘between jobs’ led to an unexpected new path.
“Sixteen years later, I’m still in between jobs!” says Farley. “I didn’t think this would be my career.”
“I’ve had the best life and I love it, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he adds.
“Good drag is entertaining. It’s beautiful to watch, you don’t see it every day, it’s quite extraordinary.”
“I think it was last week I was standing watching Hannah [Conda] on stage, and I had one of those moments where you go: ‘Oh my god, here I am, a 47-year-old man dressed as a woman, and I’m gonna go up there and I’m gonna mime to someone else’s voice, and they’re all gonna watch and have a good time and clap. This is weird!’”
From Chorus Boy to Leading Lady will also see Farley musing on the changes he’s seen take place in Sydney’s drag scene, queer spaces and nightlife over the years, as well as the reaction to the same-sex marriage plebiscite he didn’t expect from himself.
This show promises plenty of laughs, but Farley also has a message he’d like the audience to take away from the recollections of his unique and fabulous life.
“I want people to know that we all feel the same. No matter what you are … We all feel the same and we all hurt the same.”
Minnie Cooper – From Chorus Boy To Leading Lady, part of the Sydney Fringe Festival 2019, is playing September 15, 21, 22 & 29 at the City Tattersalls Fringe Hub – Archie Rose Cabaret Club, 198 Pitt St. For showtimes, information and tickets ($32-$36) visit sydneyfringe.com.