Temple shakes things up with drag show fundraiser
Fundraising can be a drag.
At least, that’s what the board members of Scranton’s Temple Hesed are banking on being true for their next big event.
On Saturday, April 27, the temple at 1 Knox Road will host “Callaway-We-Go,” a comedic lip-synch concert featuring drag performers Carol Ann Carol Ann and Sharron Ann Husbands.
The show presents a different version of drag, the stars explained, and is meant to be an homage to the Tony-nominated sister act of Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway. Based on the Callaways’ legendary 1996 cabaret show, which was recorded and went on to become a force of its own, “Callaway-We-Go” is a recreation of the staged collection of American standards, Broadway and Great American Songbook classics.
“Their harmonies are just unbelievable, as only siblings can have, and the arrangements of the music are beautiful. They locomotion right out of you,” said Jerry Schmidt, who performs as Carol Ann Carol Ann. “It’s fun to listen to, and it draws the audience in.”
His longtime stage partner, Tim Hahn, aka Sharron Ann Husbands, noted that his own theater background lends a different flavor to the revue, making it unique from other drag performances guests may have seen.
“Manipulating the script to make it your own is so, so much fun,” said Hahn, a Pittston native. “We interact with the crowd, and whatever happens, happens — but we always make our way back to the script.
“There’s so many different types of drag,” Hahn added. “We do a lot of songs that you need to be convincing with. You need to memorize every breath, every intake, every elevation of voice. You have to make it seem like it’s really you singing. It really is so fun.”
“Our hope is that line is blurred. When we nail that, it’s just incredible,” Schmidt said.
He and Hahn have met the real Callaway sisters several times, which Schmidt noted helps inform the performance.
“It’s always fun to see someone you’re impersonating,” Schmidt said. “How they hold the mic, how they breathe. These two women have embraced us and are just so fabulous.”
Though parents should exercise discretion since the show begins at 8 p.m., the performance is considered family-friendly. Temple Hesed board member and fundraiser chairwoman Jennifer Novak said she plans to bring her kids to the show.
The Dunmore resident, who joined the temple after moving to the area more than six years ago, wanted to “raise the bar” with this year’s fundraiser, opting to book “Callaway-We-Go” instead of the usual comedians for the fundraiser.
“We wanted to create a similar but more elaborate event,” Novak said. “The committee brainstormed, and we tried to go along with the mission of the temple. One thing we like about it is it’s very diverse and inclusive — we try to do a lot with LGBTQ. We’re a very welcoming temple.
“But I wanted to shake things up a little, and I think history might be being made, because I think this might be the first drag show being held in a temple in Scranton,” she said. “It’s going to be a light evening. The drag queens are going to be campy and bantering.”
Proceeds from the event will be used to support the temple’s programming, which includes efforts for Jews and non-Jews alike, such as backpacks for kids who can’t afford all their school supplies, and food drives.
“I always feel like it’s great to do these events to bring the temple community together, but even better if the greater NEPA community comes together to support them,” Novak said. “It’s a great way to show them all the great things temple offers, even for the non-Jewish. It plays a very influential role, and we do a lot of social-action programs.”
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