A little bit Lypsinka, a little bit Mummenchanz – certainly not what I expected when going to see a cabaret act from Drag Race alum BenDeLaCreme. Oh sure, there was plenty of other stuff in line with other drag cabarets I’ve seen: goofy song parodies, wisecracking comedy and so forth. But DeLa has something more sophisticated to offer, in a show with a seductive strangeness that creeps up on you.
Nellie McKay is a highly individual talent, a supreme stylist, with wild, crazy creativity and substantial musical intelligence to match her razor-like interpretive ability. McKay has become something of a specialist in biographical cabarets – experimental performance art meets high society cabaret – and has put together another such special show about Billy Tipton, a jazz pianist who was discovered to have been a woman after his death.
I was Team Bianca before the season even started, but Miss Courtney Act was one of the more charming discoveries in the latest season of Drag Race. In her cabaret act Boys Like Me, Act reaffirms the perception that she is a real pro of a performer, a real pleasure to spend some time with, even if she’s not an innovator like Jinkx Monsoon, or a crazed genius like Bianca del Rio.
Not knowing the history of the musical comedy Pageant, when I first heard about it I thought it was about drag pageants, like the 2008 documentary of the same name. But no, Pageant was a Off-Broadway hit in the early 1990s, essentially an ordinary, kinda low-rent beauty pageant in which the female contestants are all played by men. Judging by the current revival, the show is a charming, featherweight bit of fun, without much serious to say about gender: an irreverent but essentially innocent tribute to kitschy Americana. Which is just fine as far as I’m concerned.
GaySocialites own Jonathan Warman is directing the new musical Me & Caesar Lee by Pat Holley, set in the world of 1980s R&B. A 43 year old former pop diva hopes to make a comeback by writing songs for a teen age singing group. Infatuated with the group and deeply infatuated with their 22 year old manager, she journeys through the resulting heartaches and betrayals, leading her to confront the haunting legacy of her mother’s suicide and her own desire to live. The cast includes Robyn Payne (The Lion King, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Kismet @ Encores!), Two-time Tony nominee Ernestine Jackson (Raisin, Guys & Dolls), Raun Ruffin (The Civil War, Randy Newman’s Faust), up-and-coming R&B singer Amanda Holley, Nick Mara (“America’s Best Dance Crew”), Joshua Scarlett and Sadat Waddy. For tickets, click here.
For more about Jonathan Warman’s directing, see jonathanwarman.com.