The Ding Dong Girls (MoGo Co) is my favourite show so far at the 2018 Toronto Fringe. It’s got everything I love; talented cast, great songs, fabulous costumes, excellent book, and a tap dance number. It’s funny and very raunchy and manages to touch on some serious topics as well. It was sold out tonight, Factory Mainspace even opened the balcony. I expect that it will keep selling out. You should order your tickets right now. Ordering information is at the end of the review but do it now. Finish reading afterwards.
The Ding Dong Girls is the “mostly untrue” story of a troupe of five drag performers in Toronto in the early 1990s. Written by Christopher Richards and Gorden Browness, it’s inspired by Richards’ experience running a drag troupe in Toronto.
The songs were written by Lisa Lambert who is best known for writing the music and lyrics for The Drowsy Chaperone.
It was a fairly minimal set. There was a large crate – really large, people sized – on the stage. It served as a door, a closet, and the backdrop to a stage. There were a few small wooden crates that were used as seats and tables and moved around or removed as necessary.
The costumes designed by Christopher Richards and the wigs designed by Alice Norton were not minimal. They were gorgeous. The wig that Marni MacDonald (Graham Conway) wore in the opening number looked like a flame. It was stunning.
At one point Marni wore a red dress that was breathtaking, and the pink ensemble that each cast member wore in the closing number was lovely.
There is also a story to go with these gorgeous wigs and costumes and raunchy songs.
Marni has a small party to welcome her friend Mindy Melons (Oliver Moreno) back from L.A. She’s invited their friend Moni Luv (Miss (Fiercalicious) and she’s brought her friend Mama Dominatrix (Joel Schaefer). Marni’s roommate Missy/Devil Missy (Nic Mencia), also arrives and Marni tells them all the plan.
They should form a drag troupe. Everyone loves the idea except Missy. Missy has conditions. No fake tits and Missy can use the act to try and awaken the audience to the political injustice around them. They all agree. And the show goes on.
Near the end of the show Missy performs a tap number. It’s one of my favourite Fringe moments ever. I’ve been back and forth in my head about whether to describe it or not and decided not. It’s better seen. But the combination of the song, the dress, and the dancing is perfect, a nose-thumbing moment to remember. It’ll make me happy whenever I think of it.
In a lovely closing of a circle the actual, original Mama Dominatrix is in the show as Rita-Dina Wedlock, the narrator.
You probably all have your tickets by now so I don’t need to say that I definitely recommend that you see the show. The audience advisory says Adult language, unsuitable for minors. That may be a bit weak in terms of an advisory. This is a raunchy show with a lot of talk about sex. Be guided by that.
- The Ding Dong Girls plays at the Factory Theatre Mainspace. (125 Bathurst St.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warnings: Mature language; Unsuitable for minors; Fog or haze effects.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Friday July 6th, 6:45 pm
- Saturday July 7th, 4:00 pm
- Monday July 9th, 10:45 pm
- Wednesday July 11th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 12th, 5:15 pm
- Friday July 13th, 2:15 pm
- Saturday July 14th, 12:00 pm
Photo of Oscar Moreno, Graham Conway, and Nic Mencia by David Hawe