Fans of Vancouver musical-theatre artist Corey Payette are in for a treat. That’s because the Cultch, Urban Ink, and Raven Theatre have announced that they’re releasing one song per week from his upcoming production, Starwalker. It will be at the York Theatre from February 16 to March 5.
The first song to become available is “God in Drag, You’re Beautiful”. The theatre companies put it out in partnership with The Musical Stage Co., which commissioned Starwalker.
Listen to Corey Payette’s new song, “God in Drag, You’re Beautiful”, from Starwalker.
Payette wrote the music and lyrics and performs vocals and hand drum. Payette is joined by Sean Bayntun (piano, synths), Daniel Ruiz (drums), John Bews (bass), Noah Walker (guitar), Laine Longton (cello), Sarah Ho (violin), Doug Gorkoff (cello), and Molly Mackinnon (violin).
“I really started writing Starwalker as a way to express my own queerness, my own Two-Spirit identity, and finding a way to have a character go through a journey of self-discovery that was tied to femininity, masculinity, and really not looking at those things as a binary—but really just seeing it as all different shades in there,” Payette says in a separate YouTube video.
In that video, Payette credits The Musical Stage Co. for providing so much freedom, essentially offering a blank slate for the artist to create anything.
Payette calls it a mash-up
Payette is a member of the Mattagami First Nation with French Canadian and Irish ancestry. He emphasizes that Starwalker is nothing like his other award-winning musicals—Children of God, Les Filles du Roi, and Seda—which all depict different aspects of Indigenous experiences.
Starwalker takes place in East Vancouver, which is also home to the York Theatre.
“I’m after a contemporary musical-theatre sound— really looking at dance music, club music—trying to make a fusion of all these different styles and pair those with drumming music and Indigenous contemporary music,” Payette says. “So it really is such a huge mash-up but it’s a mash-up I feel musically of this place.”
Ralph Escamillan created the choreography for Starwalker and music direction is provided by Bayntun. Dillan Chilblow plays the title role in a cast that also includes Stewart Adam McKensy and Jeffrey Follis (a.k.a. Drag Queen Urupa).
For more information about Starwalker and to purchase tickets, visit the Cultch website. Follow Pancouver editor Charlie Smith on Twitter @charliesmithvcr. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia.