Watch Peter Suarez Transform Before Your Eyes in Studio@620’s ChaMEleon
Thursday-Friday, April 27-28, 7 p.m.
The Studio @620 , 620 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg
In his one-man show ChaMEleon, Gulfport resident Peter Suarez reveals fragments of his psyche and personality through a menagerie of fictitious men who differ in age, ethnicity and race.
Suarez’s searingly intimate portrayals go from poignant to humorous with interludes of musical and dance talent. He also shows off an undeniable knack for foreign accents.
To get a grasp of Suarez’s more subconscious side, you must meet the characters in his show.
Before the performance even begins, Theo emerges. The stagehand and “half-wit savant” who wears thick-framed glasses and pants hiked up over his belly button has a kind and gentle nature, often wiser than the others. Above all, he loves his wife, Edna. When he speaks of her, he gets choked up and teary-eyed.
Brother Soiree, on the other hand, is a scarf-twirling, ambiguously gay bon vivant. He is “tres glamorous and a great shopper.”
Colin From Galway, “not Dublin,” shares his experiences as an Irish troubadour, wielding a guitar and deeply touching balladry. “No Right at All” offers a tribute to Suarez’s real-life dad. He penned the tune before casting his father’s ashes onto the Atlantic Ocean.
Travaylin West, a patriotic, Republican country singer and ladies’ man, upholds all the bravado and stereotypes of a red-blooded American man. During the show, Travaylin performs an amusing political protest tune called “Swivel Chair,” which has a chorus that chants, “Spin around.”
Rounding out Suarez’s cast of characters is the Spanish Guy, a gaucho/flamenco dancer and juggler from Galicia on the northwest coast of Spain, where, he claims, the first bagpipes were played.
“Flamenco has both the joys and pains of living, like the American blues,” Suarez says in character. “There’s never a moment the audience will not be filled with both.”
There’s a certain grit and honesty to each of his roles. Where does Suarez get his inspiration for his unapologetic interpretations? “I’m not prone to hero worship,” he says, “but I got a lot of inspiration from Tim Minchin, an Australian comedian, actor, writer, musician and director. He also counts Aussie Jim Jefferies among his favorites.
When not spending his down time in Gulfport, Suarez is a busy performer in Manhattan and on tour. He’s danced and choreographed for the Cincinnati Ballet and many other major companies. Suarez performed for eight years with The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center and got to share a stage with the Gipsy Kings at Radio City Music Hall. He has also served as style coach/adjunct choreographer for Cirque du Soleil and Olympic athletes.
The 57-year-old Ohio native grew up in New York and splits his time between Gulfport and Manhattan with a good amount out of traveling the rest of the year. He sold his house this year to live in his boat, docked at the Gulfport Municipal Marina, where he still hosts his popular “family dinners” for local artists and artisans.