Sainte Céline : A DIon Cabaret

A love & hate relationship

Richard Burnett
Sainte Céline

Celebrated Montreal queer comics Thomas Leblanc and Tranna Wintour (a favourite of disco diva France Joli and comedy legend Sandra Bernhard) are remounting their hilarious Sainte Céline: A Dion Cabaret that explores the life and career of LGBT and pop icon Céline Dion through music, comedy, drag and burlesque performances, at the OFF-JFL.

la liste de l'été 2016Why do you “hate” or “love” Céline so much?
Tranna Wintour: “I hate Céline because she is so uncool. It baffles my mind how such a big dork became an international superstar! I hate Céline because she has no rhythm or sense of movement. Her physicality onstage is painful to watch – those karate moves, the chest pumping, the Elvis Presley lip thing – it’s mortifying! The one thing René never got her was a choreographer.
Also, the music itself is over-produced, soulless schmaltz. And lastly, I hate Céline because she over-shares every detail of her mundane personal life.  These are also the same reasons I secretly love watching her.”  
Thomas Leblanc: “I adore Céline, almost on a spiritual level. Her music, her family, René, her endearing goofiness... they’ve have been around for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t so fond of her growing up, but my parents, who weren’t fans either, kept gifting me Céline cassette tapes, CDs, concert tickets, until I got the message. I got into her ironically in my early twenties, but secretly I realized I was a huge fan.
I especially like her albums from the early to mid-90's. I also love to present this image of the ultimate Céline fan because she’s so uncool, and she knows it. Her voice, her visuals and even her back story, there’s simply no one like her. And as a French Canadian kiddo, she’s given me incredible inspiration. I love that she’s simultaneously very inauthentic and very authentic. I believe that reflects our culture.”   
Why do queers love Céline so much?
Thomas: “Obviously, it’s ironic and cool and trendy to love Céline today, but it hasn’t always been like that. YouTube has allowed queers from all over to watch timeless Celine archival moments: her TV interviews, music videos. She has become a camp hero. Another reason why I believe queers are having a Céline moment, is because she has never tried to use or defend the queers in the same way that other divas have done.  With Céline, it really is about love, notions like “queer” and “normative” don’t really exist in her world. And that makes her the perfect icon of the post-gay liberation era.”
What do you think of Céline’s fashion sense?
Tranna: “Céline’s styling, over the last 10 years, has been impeccable. She wears all the latest runway looks from the greatest houses: Balmain, Versace, Saint Laurent, Valentino. And yet she has an uncanny ability to make the most beautiful clothes look profoundly unhip. On anyone else these designer clothes would look amazing, but as soon those clothes are put on Céline’s shoulders, they look like something a soccer mom would find on the liquidation rack at Winners. No one knows how to ruin a hot look like Céline. Her uncoolness cannot be covered up. Céline is proof that money cannot buy style.”
Sainte Céline: A Dion Cabaret runs at The Wiggle Room
(3874 St-Laurent Blvd.) from July 21 to 23, at the OFF-JFL.