Book Review – Hold Me Closer : the Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

A book you can’t help but sing along to!

9780525428848_HoldMeCloser_BOM_CV.inddGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 208

From Goodreads:

Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers.  

Page border by Casey Carlisle

I had to pick this up – curiosity got the best of me after having read ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ and a couple of my friends raving about it. But be warned – this is not a novel, but a screenplay (of sorts). What a surprise! I wasn’t expecting to be as entertained as much as I was. There are many laugh out loud moments.

We got snippets of Tiny’s play in ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ but here we get the fun, fabulous and full play Tiny wrote, complete with stage directions and notes from Tiny himself.

I thought there would be some more poignant moments, true to the styles of musical theatre and David Leviathan, but ‘Hold Me Closer’ fell slightly short of the feels in that department. But it is still a laugh riot, and I could easily picture it as a stage play in my mind’s eye.

We get to live in Tiny Coopers head for a while, as opposed to third person in the novel starring his best friend Will. There is a true spirit of acceptance, love and an indomitable spirit for life that shines through. 100% Tiny. This work really embodies all things Tiny Cooper.

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

He is articulate and sensitive to all the characters he’s based his musical on, without apology. It was ballsy, comical and touching. ‘Hold Me Closer’ is a quick, fast read.

I’m glad I added this to my collection, even though this is not something I would have readily picked up – because written as a script, it was difficult to get into the narrative. Sometimes it felt jarring. And sometimes the cadence of the melody was difficult to pick, which annoyed me, dragging me out of the story all too frequently.

Where some novels or series that release something extra to the collection usually consist of novellas, I enjoyed of point of difference in the reading a new format and getting to explore the play that was so prominently depicted in the story line of ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson.’

I’d recommend it to fans of David Levithan, lovers of Will Grayson, and anyone who has an itch for musical theatre.

 

Overall feeling: Psychedelic Fun

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Hold Me Closer Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Casey, Cancer and Cabaret

What started out as something on my Bucket List turned into a business and fundraising event that was anything but boring.

Daffodil Day CC220In the spirit of Daffodil Day here in Australia (Friday 28th of August), where we come together to raise funds to help fight cancer, I wanted to step away from the usual blog and share an old story about how I raised funds when I was in the middle of my own battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma…

TLEG Promo shot 01I had launched a production back in 2004 booking dancers and variety acts in Perth, Western Australia. I’d been thinking about it when going through Chemo (the second time) and as I was slowly recovering, launched the business. You could say this was the start of my Bucket List – I wanted to cram as many crazy ideas as I could into this short life. Basically, all I had to do was take bookings and manage a marketing campaign. Most of it was done online and at weekends, so it was perfect for someone who was sick half the time.

The company grew and I added drag and cabaret performers into the mix from hairdressing and ballroom dancing contacts. Business was doing really well, and I was growing the company and getting gigs for just about every weekend. That’s when I had the fantastic idea to form a troupe and create an Australian and New Zealand Las Vegas Styled Showgirl tour…

…until I stopped responding to treatment and needed to have a number of surgeries to remove malignant lumps.

Lavender Casey Carlisle ShowgirlBut I wasn’t about to let all that hard work and money go to waist, So instead I decided to put on a charity event for the Cancer Council in conjunction with the re-launch of the refurbished Perth Town Hall. Initially it was supposed to be dinner theatre for four weekends in a row, but my publicity company dropped the ball and ticket sales were poor. In the end we produced one massive night, getting rid of the meals so we could really pack the place. In the week prior both myself and the cast managed to drum up more publicity than the company I’d paid a small fortune to…

It was all very stressful, and in hindsight I should have let it go as soon as my health started to backslide. But when you have twenty employees counting on you, it’s hard to be so selfish. My partner at the time was the Godsend who got me through it all.

If I hadn’t been so ill, I may have been tracking the publicity company more closely and our original intention realised. But that’s all water under the bridge now.

Adding to the pressure, I had three small operations scheduled in the six weeks of rehearsal time leading up to the event. One to remove cancer growing on the cartilage of my nose; another to remove lumps on my jaw (along with a wisdom tooth and molar) and the final one to get lumps on my throat. There were more surgeries planned for larger areas later that year, but given that I don’t respond well to anaesthesia, as much as could be done under twilight sedation was first off the bat.

Stupid me had re-organised the show for the single night gala, where I was basically the headline act. Not having been through surgery before, I had underestimated the recovery time. I did, manage several walk-throughs and kicked butt in the dress rehearsal… over ten years of a dancing career under my belt enabled me to wing a part of it. My stitches were removed two days before curtain up.

I have to give it to my cast mates and stage staff though, they did an amazing job amongst so much change and adversity. Especially my partner in crime, when I was drained and emotional he picked up the slack and kept everything running smoothly and placated the highly strung creative types in this industry.

Perth Town Hall Dressing Room by Casey CarlisleLeading up to the day, I had half of the cast pull out, or had to replace them (due to no-shows at rehearsals) and ended up with a number of drag performers. We combined the numbers around a Beauty Pageant theme with a comedic twist and used the variety acts as support acts in between the group and solo numbers of the main cast. What had been turning into a dogs breakfast transformed into something beyond even what I could have hoped for. So with a mix of Queens and girls it turned out to be a Connie and Carla extravaganza!

The gang pulled together and helped with costuming – with over 120 individual outfits completed, including wigs, hairpieces, feather backpacks, and head pieces… thank goodness for outsourcing!

–ooOOoo–

FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR CANCER… TINA LOUISE ENTERTAINMENT GROUP STAGES FREE CABARET SHOW TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE W.A. CANCER COUNCIL 

Pageant show by Casey Carlisle

On the 9th of September, the Perth Town Hall will be transformed into the glitziest venue in the city for a charitable cabaret show to raise funds for cancer sufferers. The Miss Australia Covergirlz Pageant, brought to Perth by the Tina Louise Entertainment Group, this event asks that the audience makes a donation upon entry for the Western Australia Cancer Council.


Audiences will see six performers, Casey Carlisle, Chaise Punani, Sapphire, Gillette Venus, Elle Niño, and Cinnamon dance, sing and dazzle their way through the evening. With her signature red locks, curvaceous body and flirtatious laugh, Casey Carlisle is the founder of the Tina Louise Entertainment Group. Having survived Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma twice and just 2 week ago recovered from surgery Casey is trying to follow her passion of performing and raising money to help those who are fighting cancer themselves. The group’s high energy and extensive repertoire of shows are known for their extravagant costumes and hypnotic choreography. The group collectively has experience in acting, dancing, modelling and M.C. work for corporate, theatre, television, photographic and promotional events throughout Australia. 


Don’t miss all the action on the 9th of September 2005 at the Friends and Family for Cancer cabaret show at the Perth Town Hall, corner of Hay and Barrack Streets, Perth. Donation at the door with all proceeds going to the W.A. Cancer Council . Doors open at 7 pm.

–ooOOoo–

We managed to raise just a sizeable sum for the charity and despite the difficulties and hospitalisation, it was one of the happiest and most entertaining nights of my life. Something I am immensely proud of and will always treasure the memories. And well, hey, another outlandish item crossed off the Bucket List.

In 2010 the company was wrapped up after continuing health issues and needing to relocate for further treatment. It was a sad day, but necessary. Although I had many other challenges ready to face from my Bucket List.

I was lucky to gain much of my health back (thanks to miracle-working doctors and a change in lifestyle). Many of my friends and family have not fared so well. I’ve lost some incredible people from my life. Please support this worthy cause when you can. Buy a ribbon, a pin… or do it in big flashy and glittering style. Every little bit helps.

To those no longer with us – I am truly blessed to have shared your journey. You have changed my life for the better and it has truly been enriched to have had you in it.

I miss your face.

Bucket List by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

High Def Daring

Sometimes living large means flexing your brain muscle!

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 Picture courtesy of Kate Frovola

ImageIn the past few weeks I have managed to play with some alternate book covers for my works in progress (it helps keep the project fresh and new – plus it’s nice to have a break from the non-stop writing) and had an afternoon at the movies to catch the latest incarnation of Godzilla. I have to say I enjoyed the movie; it was an ohmage to the original Japanese Black and white films with massive monsters battling it out while reeking havoc on a grand scale.  The CGI version was so similar to the plasticine and suited versions of Godzilla’s conception – I thought he looked a bit spoony – but then again, it fit in with the features which started the whole craze. But I’m not reviewing the movie (but if you are a die-hard Godzilla fan it is a must see).

I was more astounded at the behaviour of other movie-goers… where has everyone’s manners gone? I like to go to a movie to submerge myself in the full High Definition experience: massive screens and the volume turned up so loud you feel it through your seats threatening to release your bowels; not compete with constant talking, excessive crackling of plastic wrappers and open-mouthed eating – some guy was even listening to his iPod so loud I could hear it four seats away – honestly dude, why bother watching a movie at all!? I felt like a Nanna reprimanding inconsiderate viewers at their ordasity. I attend screenings quite often – but this time I seemed to cop a bad crowd.

Hopefully next time I hit the cinema I’ll be able to indulge in bombarding my senses without distraction once more. Otherwise I’m going to have to switch to other comparable real-life experiences: swimming with whale sharks, skydiving, or being lost on an alien planet – the first two of which are on my bucket list, the latter is in development.*

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Photo courtesy of www.globallygorgeous.com            Photo courtesy of Dan Wayland

I’m hoping to get back on track with crossing some items off my bucket list this year, hardships in the recent six months have meant putting a lot of achievements and dreams on hold – but it’s all behind me now and it’s time to live and live large. Casey in HD!

*A new science fiction series LONERS hit me like a tonne of bricks out of the blue. Evolving from a recurring dream over a week and a half (just how Elliot for keeps started), It has grown into four volumes added to my WIP. You may have to wait a while to read an excerpt though, at this stage I won’t be finished my entire writing list until the end of 2016! Here are some of the ‘Craptastic Covers’ for the titles (I love designing covers for all my books to keep things fun, but they are not used for publication and images compiling these are purely for my own entertainment and not for distribution.)

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Image© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That woman sings like a goat! By Casey Carlisle

ImageImageTo be in show business you need to embrace an amount of humor and narcissism. Being able to embody the sexiness of a Las Vegas Showgirl when your three-foot high feather headdress is caught in the lighting rig is a talent in itself. Never mind needing to smile, kick-ball-change and stay in formation on top of that. But, even though the work was sporadic and intense, I do miss the comradery and the adrenaline rush from performing.

The best parts were the laughs and antics we would get up to on the final night of a production run. A cabaret that I had a hand in producing, on the last evening of it’s six week term, and showing to a packed house – we were well known for doing something special in the closing performance – and this time there was a little something that no-one expected, not even the cast members.

Previously, we’d added in new comedy sketches;  saucy dance routines; guest performances; randomly switched characters; swapped costumes, so the guys were in skimpy leotards, fishnets and wigs, and the girls in tails and mustaches;  or played with the speed of backing tracks, belting out tracks sounding like we were drunk. The crowd would roar with laughter louder than the music.

Struck with a Machiavellian streak, and deciding to get payback on one of our performers who was a massive (but adorable) prankster backstage… we rearranged her numbers through the show out of sequence. The result: she’d be racing on stage half in her costume, (modestly of course) to begin her number thinking it to be the extent of our goof for the night. Surprise! On cue, every time she was due to sing, we’d cut in a goat bleating, a fart noise, or a squeak! People were rolling in the aisles! A massive hook would then drag her off stage before the song could proceed. It was the running joke of the production. She never got to sing one note, and was cued randomly throughout the night. The expression on her face the first time she opened her mouth to hear a warbling blat was beyond priceless!

My hat off to her though – she is an incredibly great sport and was owning it by the time the red curtain dropped for the finale. Nobody escaped falling victim to the closing performance capers, not even me (but their stories for later blog). What a wonderful collection of talented and colourful people, able to pull through any situation with grace, poise and an incontrovertible sense of humor. Cheers to the woman with the voice of a goat!

© Casey Carlisle 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.