Last Night at the Gayety

Relive Montreal’s ‘Sin City’ days in the house that Lili St Cyr built

Our city is damned, my church should be crammed
But there’s only one saint they revere
That is the saint of Lack of Restraint
Lili, Lili Saint Cyr
“Priest’s Song”, Last Night at the Gayety

Centaur Theatre tops off a season of almost all new Canadian works with the world premiere of the musical comedy, Last Night at the Gayety, from the dynamic duo of musical parody, Rick Blue and George Bowser.

TOMMY: If you think you have corruption now, just listen to the way it was …
our city comes by its dishonesty honestly.

Booze, burlesque, and bad guys abound in this sizzling, large scale spectacle as Bowser and Blue put the sin back in ‘Sin City’, bringing Montreal, circa 1951, back to vivid life. Police Chief, Pacifique ‘Pax’ Plante, leads a crusade to eradicate vice by clamping down on gambling, raiding brothels and nightclubs, the Gayety and its shining star, “the best dressed, undressed lady in the theatre”, Lili St. Cyr. Bowser and Blue lend their signature wit and satire to reanimate the Gayety (present day site of Théâtre du Nouveau Monde) in all its glory. Will Pax topple North America’s ‘wide open’ capital of earthly delights and save the citizens from themselves or will the gin continue to flow and vaudeville reign supreme?

JIMMY: An honest cop is one who, once he’s bought, stays bought.

“I’m thrilled to be directing this wonderful production rooted in Montreal’s notorious past,” said Centaur Theatre’s Artistic and Executive Director, Roy Surette, with a wink. “Bowser and Blue’s melodies and
lyrics will have audiences humming for days and their cheeky and highly entertaining portrayal of a shady yet, in retrospect, somehow more innocent time, is delightful. They have fully captured the devil-maycare attitude of post-WWII as well as the peculiar irony of a city renowned for vice flourishing in a Catholic province. Working with this brilliant script and music, these amazing designers, and this multi-talented cast is sheer heaven and I can’t think of a better way to end the season!”

I’ll tell you honest
If you wanna be
Happy–don’t think
“Don’t Think”, Last Night at the Gayety

The book, Montreal Confidential, originally published in 1950 at the height of Montreal’s ‘Sin City’ era, written by the Montreal Herald’s police and entertainment reporter, Al Palmer, was an excellent resource. Lili St. Cyr’s illustrious career is well documented as are the maneuverings of Police Chief, Pax Plante, who wrote a series of articles about corruption in Le Devoir at the time. Though the main characters actually existed, the authors took literary license with the storyline.

“I’ve always had a certain nostalgia for this era, when there were lots of places for the working stiff to let loose and see a live show on a Saturday night,” said Rick Blue. “When I arrived in Montreal from the UK in the 70s, people kept telling me what a great city Montreal used to be for entertainers, how many great clubs there were to perform but that I had just missed all the action. I got to re-create a little of that with Last Night at the Gayety ”, confided George Bowser.

I never had a straight job, my family were crooks
So I followed in my father’s fingerprints
“Casinos Bordellos and Booze”, Last Night at the Gayety

For tickets and information:   514-288-3161

The Centaur Theatre
453 St. François-Xavier

Video: This short film showcases the city of Montreal on a summer’s night. What was once a small Indian village is presented as a pot-pourri of contrasting sights and sounds. It is North America’s second largest port and, after Paris, the world’s largest French-speaking city. With its warehouses, offices, homes, clubs and amusement parks, the city serves as a bright backdrop for a happy couple out on the town.

Montreal by Night by Arthur Burrows & by Jean Palardy, National Film Board of Canada

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