Award-winning singer-songwriter and former Worthing High student Paul Diello admits he’d never come across the word Epicene, the title of his home-coming show.
But someone suggested it to him. He looked it up. He discovered it meant “having characteristics of both sexes or no characteristics of either sex”.
And he decided it was perfect for his gender-blending extravaganza.
He brings it to St Paul’s, Chapel Road, Worthing (01903 368967) on August 25 (doors 7.30pm, start 8pm, tickets £13).
The piece offers a celebration of iconic women in music as Paul and his seven-piece ensemble bring the show to the place where it all started, Paul’s hometown.
Paul is promising a colourful, camp cabaret extravaganza as they re-imagine classic songs originally performed by female artists including Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell and PJ Harvey, to name but a few.
Paul is inviting you to dance, sing, laugh and cry as he interweaves his stories of childhood out-castings and social misfittery into a string of well-loved compositions, promising every sense will be tantalised in an outrageous, rainbow-coloured romp.
“I was born and brought up in Worthing, but I have been away for 15 years. I have lived all over the place.
“I lived in Sydney for a while, and I have just come back from Berlin, but mainly I have been living in Brighton.
“I was at Worthing High from 94-98, and I suppose I struggled like most teenagers, not really anything to do with Worthing. But there were things growing up… and that’s really what this show is about.
“The idea came to me in Berlin. I wanted to create something new, and Berlin is the home of cabaret. I wanted to do some covers.
“For years, I have been writing my own stuff, but I wanted to focus on some of the songs that had meant something to me. I started with Sade, and then I thought about doing a covers show of my favourite artists, and it just so happens that a lot of them are female artists.
“And then I thought that I want to tell my own story. The songs are all in different styles. There is Kate Bush, Bjork, Diana Ross, Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman, people like that, a lot of 80s music, and they all mean different things to me.
“They are like the soundtrack of my life, the stuff that I was listening to when I was growing up and feeling really outside and alone. I felt really confused about my gender, thinking that it would be a life-long problem.
“There is a lot of talk about that in the show – though I don’t want to give away any of the answers now, but this was the music I was growing up listening to in the 80s and 90s in Worthing, and music was my salvation.
“There is now a lot of talk about trans and things like that, and I think it is brilliant. But in the 80s and 90s there wasn’t, and Worthing was a small town…”
It all comes together in Epicene, a musical event presented in a cabaret style that will appeal to a wide audience, bringing together regular gig-goers, fans of the theatre and cabaret queens as well as the LGBT community and its allies, Paul hopes.
“I wanted to create a fun platform for me to share my story of gender confusion through music that was personal to me but that would reach others and spread the message of the It Gets Better project, an organisation whose mission is to communicate to LGBT youth around the world that life does get better.”
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