Norwalk’s Troupe429 launches monthly LGBTQ talent show
A safe space with a kick-ass talent show.
Norwalk’s Troupe429: LGBTQ Bar & Performance Space has launched Trail Mix Thursdays — on the first Thursday of every month — an eclectic mix of new talent ruled over by the stunning drag queens Hazel Berry and Robin Fierce (aka Rashawn Lee and Josh Castillo). With no cover charge for its two hours of hilarity from the hostesses, as well as music, dance and comedy from emerging performing artists, the show is one of the great bargains in Fairfield County.
(And, yes, there is plenty of trail mix to munch on.)
Casey Fitzpatrick, who opened the space last November with his partner (and fiance) Nicholas Ruiz, sees the new show as a perfect expression of Troupe429’s inclusive philosophy.
“We call it a queer bar rather than a gay bar because we want to represent everyone,” he says of welcoming each “letter” of the LGBTQ acronym to the beautifully designed two-room bar and performance venue.
“It’s a safe space for our patrons, the community, and ultimately our performers — a totally positive environment,” the co-owner adds.
Troupe429 already has a big hit with a special event called “Siren” — on the second Saturday of each month — that has grown into the largest party for queer women in the state.
Although some cultural observers have said that dating and hook-up apps have removed the need for bars in the gay community, Casey disagrees. “Sure some people will use an app to find a romantic partner for a night or a week, but queer people like to meet their friends and allies in a safe space. Critics told us before we opened that we don’t need gay bars, but that isn’t true.”
Casey had seen Hazel at another bar in Connecticut, so as soon as he and Nicholas opened Troupe429, they wanted the performer to be a regular. Hazel asked if Robin could come along, and the duo was an immediate hit on the nights when they hosted screenings of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Down in the basement dressing room, watching the transformation of Josh and Rashawn into Robin and Hazel is a show in itself. The two friends complete each others’ sentences as they perfect the makeup and costuming that will delight the crowd upstairs an hour later.
Chat is kept to a minimum as they put the finishing touches on their transformation.
Greenwich native Samson Rutkin — who sings under the stage name Akira — arrives to share the dressing room, explaining how happy he is to be part of the first show produced by Hazel and Robin.
“It is so special the way they bounce ideas off each other,” he says. “I’ve gone to their RuPaul screenings here and they are so smart and so funny.”
The first Trail Max Thursday drew a packed house and don’t be surprised if Hazel and Robin start house shows on other nights.
“We’re seeing how it goes,” Casey says. “It could be twice a month or more. We want to keep cultivating local talent.”
Troupe429, 3 Wall St., Norwalk, open daily at 6. Visit www.troupe429.com
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