A surprise wedding at the end of this year’s Queerlesque show stunned the audience and even members of the cast.

Dee Fowler and Manda Fahy were married in a ceremony kept secret from all but a handful of the annual cabaret show’s production team.

Dee, who co-produced this year’s show, told Cabin Radio: “We had the cast doing curtain call, which buys us about three minutes. In that time I snuck out the back door, got mostly naked in the middle of the parking lot, slipped on a wedding dress, then we ran around to the other side of the building to enter from the front.

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“Everybody got up on their feet, there was lots of crying. Every time I tried to gather myself and stop crying, I would look at one of the cast members behind me who was bawling.

“Someone in the cast had the foresight to grab handfuls of glitter to throw on us when we kissed, which was completely unscripted.”

The idea began as a joke between Dee and a friend. When a plan to elope on vacation in Hawaii didn’t pan out – “it didn’t feel right,” said Dee – the joke gradually became a reality.

“Many of my friends refer to me as the recluse. So when I got a phone call saying, ‘Hey, just bear with me with this idea,’ there were a few expletives,” said Manda.

“But then, the excitement I heard in Dee’s voice meant it was worth pursuing. The more fantastical it became, the more I was in. By the end, we were sold.”

‘You don’t always have safe spaces’

With Queerlesque’s cast members completely unaware, the couple – who met three years ago – hatched a plan among the show’s producers, director, and stage manager.

The result, at the end of Saturday’s performance, left members of both the audience and cast in tears of joy.

Members of the Queerlesque cast and audience react with delight as the wedding of Dee Fowler and Manda Fahy begins
Members of the Queerlesque cast and audience react with delight as the wedding of Dee Fowler and Manda Fahy begins. Photo: Samantha Stuart

“For us, we have family – not all of them could be here – but we’re also very aware that this is our chosen family,” said Manda.

“To actually have all of these people in this room, most of them not knowing, was really good. To be in a room with everyone who knows you, understands you, loves you… the messages we’re getting now and the ‘I can’t believe you didn’t tell me’s… it makes it all worthwhile.

“I was talking to a woman last night who was about 10 years older than me and she was saying this was her first time, in Yellowknife, going to something like this. She said it was great to be herself, that the days of hiding are far over.”

Dee said: “There’s something about the queer experience. You don’t always have safe spaces and Queerlesque has always been our safe space.

“We can genuinely be who we are, and not worry about people not getting us.”