| Feb 1, 2010
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Transvocalizers by Pamela DeGroff

lala{_smlWhat happens when you mix a three octave vocal range and incredible stage presence with a fine eye for detailed period costumes and ornate wigs? No clue…give up? Well, TGForum would like to introduce you the the answer — Miss LaLa McCallan.

Besides the uniqueness of her stage presence, what also stands out about LaLa is the fact that she is the creation of Daniel Dalton and Stuart Lindsay. While it’s Dalton who actually performs as LaLa, Lindsay and Dalton as a couple are responsible for her staging, wardrobe, wigs, and everything else needed to make a true diva.

Daniel Dalton was born in Italy and started his professional musical career at age 20. In 1996, he moved to London to study at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, where he graduated with a degree in Musical Theatre.

This lead to work in revue shows for Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises. By 2003, Dalton decided to move back to Italy with partner Lindsay, where they formed an independent production company called Startstruck Productions. Together, they have produced revue shows, concerts, major industrial/corporate events, and a touring production of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, in which Dalton starred in the lead role.

4857_95193934556_44129909556_1835747_7116574_nAfter this success, the couple decided to take a break from producing and go back to full time performing. Dalton starred in Broadway Celebration, a revue show by leading Italian director Fabrizio Angelini,but it was the growing success of LaLa that lead them to further expolore where they could take their diva creation.

Stuart Lindsay, the off-stage creative force who also shares credit for LaLa, is originally from Canada. He is an award winning dancer, choreographer, singer, and actor, who has credits ranging from revue shows, musicals, films, and TV movies both in Canada and the U.S.

TGForum is honored to present the following interview (in two installments) with Daniel Dalton a.k.a. LaLa McCallan. LaLa is an amazing entertainer, visually as well as vocally, offering reinterpretations of opera classics, along with pop, soul, and jazz standards.

TGForum: I’m fascinated with the fact that on your web site, you say LaLa is the creation of BOTH Daniel Dalton and Stuart Lindsay. Yet, it’s Daniel who is LaLa. So, how does this work? Who originally came up with the concept and how much input does each of you have?

n44129909556_1132991_6708Daniel Dalton: Well, it’s true that Daniel is the person in the costume and of course the voice. The idea of putting the character together as an ultra glamorous crossdressing sensation was Stuart’s. It was Stuart who had the managerial intuition of refining LaLa’s persona into who she is today by demanding only the very best in costume and hair design, accessories and even make-up concept, and by conceiving a stage persona that is outrageously funny but never ever vulgar.

TGF: I love the name “LaLa McCallan.” Sort of sounds more like a stripper than a diva with a three octave vocal range. Does the name have any significance?

DD: LOL, it actually never occurred to me that it would sound like a stripper name. But I don’t mind that one bit. The whole idea of LaLa is that of a diva with a sense of humor, so a possible remote past as a stripper kinda gets with the concept! I actually chose the name LaLa (pronounced as in the French exclamation Oh la la!) because it’s short, musical and it’s what people say when they sing a melody without the words.

TGF: Daniel, when did you first start doing drag?

DD: I started out officially at Bologna’s Gay and Lesbian Center. I was working there as a volunteer, and there was this amazing art director, Stefano Casagrande, who started the Italian Miss Alternative pageant as an AIDS fundraising event. It was basically a pageant where all the models were men who had to make their outfits, with a prize for the most outrageous costume. I was recruited for it by Stefano for the very first edition. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years later, but he managed to turn the pageant into a huge national event that is still held once a year.

TGF: Musically, what were your influences growing up? Who do you listen to now for enjoyment? And, who are your favorite singers/musicians?

n44129909556_1132990_6530DD: I started listening and singing along with music at a very early age. The most significant early influence, oddly enough, was Marilyn Monroe. I was only 6 or 7 when I would hold a tape recorder to the TV (we didn’t have a VCR then) and tape her songs, then play them over and over. I knew all her songs by heart before I knew what the lyrics meant. Then of course Liza, Barbara, and as a teenager, Culture Club and all the British pop bands. Today I listen to absolutely anything if I like the tune, from heavy metal to new age to opera and baroque. The most inspiring singers for me now are undoubtedly Mariah Carey and Sarah Brightman.

TGF: What kind of criteria do you use in selecting material, especially songs, for LaLa?

DD: I always look for showy numbers where I can use my range in an effectively feminine way. I like to sing the songs in their original key when I can, although of course that changes where opera is concerned. Negotiating between the various vocal registers is quite complicated. That’s why I wouldn’t do some songs that people think I should, like “I Will Survive,” that aren’t right for my voice.

TGF: Your current LaLa show is titled Simply…A Diva!. How long of a run does each show have? You do a new production each year? Have you ever taken the complete show outside Italy?

DD: The program at Teatro Eden, where we perform the show, is renewed approximately every three months from October until July each year. The various acts are changed routinely, but our show was so well received that it has remained the main attraction since it opened there in 2007. We have performed our first show, Viva La Diva! for about two years, and we have developed a bit of a cult following, with some people returning four or five times. After so many shows in what is relatively a small city, we just had to give our audience and ourselves something new, hence Simply…A Diva! as of this October. We would love to take the show absolutely everywhere, and we’re actively pursuing management contacts to that end.

TGF: How long does it take to prepare a show? And, it is a full production (live musicians, dancers, etc.)?

DD: The song selection, costume and wigs are months in the making. The show at the moment is a one woman show, with a couple of guest appearances by Stuart on a dance number and two duets. We use pre-recorded tracks, which allows us to employ all of our production resources towards LaLa’s looks. We would love to develop it into a full Vegas style review, which we will do as soon as we find the right producer.

Next month is Part 2 of our LaLa McCallan interview, where she goes into more detail regarding her costumes and the amazing wigs she uses in the show. Until then, please check her out on Facebook photos and catch her music on MySpace.

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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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