CREATIVE PEAKS: Drag Delights

By on January 19, 2016

The Center gets glammed up with new age vaudeville acrobatics.

Caravan of Glam is a traveling show of drag queen and circus sensibilities. Two shows–an all ages performance and an 18-and-older show–happen at the Center for the Arts this weekend.

Caravan of Glam is a traveling show of drag queen and circus sensibilities. Two shows–an all ages performance and an 18-and-older show–happen at the Center for the Arts this weekend.

Jackson, WY – Burlesque, aerial stunts and tumbling in six-inch heels, the Caravan of Glam has it all.

“It basically encompasses everything you see when you go to a circus, except the animals,” said Justin Buckles, executive producer and creator of the traveling show.

And everyone loves the circus, especially when it comes with a glamorous twist you haven’t seen before.

The Caravan of Glam rolls into Jackson with two shows. One a family-friendly spectacle for all ages, complete with a magician, aerialist and a ringmaster-narrator with a gaggle of characters and pets. The interactive show brings kids up on stage to participate. While the show starts at 6 p.m., those that arrive early can meet the performers, who will be decked out in full hair, makeup and costume, in the lobby before the show begins.

The later show is for those 18 and older and features many of the same elements as the earlier version–acrobatics, LED work, performers in drag, and audience participation–but with an adult twist inspired by “American Horror Story: Freak Show.”

“It will be an envelope-pushing, jaw-on-the-ground, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that just happened,’ type of show,” Buckles said.

Those attending the later show can mingle with the cast after the performance.

Both shows offer totally fresh material designed specifically for the Jackson performance.

Buckles grew up in a small town on the Oregon Coast and was always interested in show business. At age 21 he moved to Los Angeles, eventually ending up as a production assistant on “American Idol,” and working his way up to production manager and running the audition tour. He did similar work on other shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” before moving back to Oregon where he started producing shows in Portland with local talent often in drag. Growing up in a small town, Buckles knew more rural communities didn’t often have access to LGBTQ shows. He decided to take his show on the road.

As he dreamed up his traveling show it expanded beyond just drag to burlesque, singing and acrobatics.

“I wanted something that was for every single person in that audience,” Buckles said.

While the show is made up of individual performers, they come together as a cast for group numbers. They are all trained dancers and choreographers, bringing together various acts in a cohesive way.

The entire show is meant to be a spectacle.

“It’s a visually stunning production, from the costuming, to the lighting, to the music, to the performances,” Buckles said. “We will be working every corner of the stage and we’ll have a few people out in the audience.”

The production gave national audiences a taste of what it offered on season 10 of “America’s Got Talent.” The show also has toured 10 states and is building a name for itself.

“We’ve been coined as a new age vaudeville cabaret act,” Buckles said.

They’ve also been compared to Cirque du Soleil, with the variety and acrobatics the show offers, but on a smaller scale and budget.

The Jackson show is the largest and most detailed performance Buckles has produced since he started the show about three years ago.

“It evolved quickly and we’re still evolving today,” he said.

One thing that Buckles has maintained is the approachability of the cast, which includes up to 40 performers. Before each show they meet and greet audience members in full costume. They keep the shows interactive, pulling people onstage and performing in the aisles.

The show begins even before performance day. When the Caravan of Glam arrives in Jackson Friday, the cast will “put on their faces,” and costumes–minus the high heels because Buckles is worried they might slip on the ice–and check out Teton Village and Jackson.

“If you have a bunch of drag queens out in the snow, it’s going to cause a scene,” Buckles said. “Drag queens cross-country skiing; now that would be pretty amazing.”

While they likely won’t be on skis, they will visit various bars around town and people are encouraged to say hello, chat with them, and take pictures. PJH

Caravan of Glam, “The Circus,” an all ages show, 6 p.m.; “Freakshow,” a show for 18 and older, 9 p.m.; Saturday at Center for the Arts. $15 to $20.

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