If there is one thing that was clear from the very start of the show, Flyin’ Solo is a passion project. Truly a one-man show, CJ Norris performed, wrote, and produced this comedy musical. Inspired by a love of drag and musical theatre, the show won the Fan Favourite award at the Fundy Fringe Festival (a New Brunswick theatre festival featuring unconventional shows produced outside of the mainstream theatre complex) in 2021. The show stars Norris in drag as Rosemary, a young woman trying to find herself a husband in her years after college. The audience travels with her through various breakups, a job as a radio host, a stint on a lesbian baseball team, and eventually deciding to focus on finding herself rather than looking for someone else.
The show is, as advertised, hilarious and heartwarming. Despite the innate difficulty of performing a several-hour show by yourself, Norris does so incredibly. The charm of Rosemary’s character and her ability to run with whatever happens makes for a delightfully fun time as she tells the story of the ups and downs in her love life. Minor mishaps like a lost shoe or feedback from a speaker, more than forgivable in a travelling show, were dealt with in a comedic manner. The humour is relatable and downright hilarious, involving direct audience interaction as well as more traditional gags.
The soundtrack is sung live, unlike the lip syncing standard in many drag shows, and features hits from musicals like Waitress and Legally Blonde. The lyrics are modified to match Rosemary’s story and show an impressive amount of musical talent. The show is lively with dance numbers and non-stop energy. Although there were a few moments where costume changes—all of which were stunning—took longer than they should have, for the most part, there was hardly a pause in the production. The passion Norris has for the production is apparent; it permeates every song, dance number, and line of dialogue. You can tell that he is having fun as he performs, living for every moment on the stage. He brings a talent you can expect from an experienced performer—having been in shows like Beauty and the Beast and The Wizard of Oz —and the drive you can expect from someone who loves what they do. This may have been the last performance of Flyin’ Solo, but I for one hope to see more of CJ Norris in the future.