Regional Reviews: Seattle
Get Ready, NYC Here Come The Vaudevillians
Also see David's review of Lucky In Love
The simple, wacky premise is that a pair of touring 1920s vaudeville entertainers Kitty Witless (Ms. Monsoon) and Dr. Dan Von Dandy (Scales) are put into the deep-freeze in an Antarctica avalanche, and frozen alive. Thanks to global warming,they have thawed out and hit the performance circuit anew in our scary new century, only to learn to their horror that many of their edgy, original tunes have been stolen and inappropriately re-interpreted over the years. You may be surprised to learn, for example, that "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" was originally about the woman's Suffragette movement, and "Drop It Like It's Hot" was originally about the invention of the electric iron. Their new act attempts to right these wrongs.
Anyone who watched even one episode of "Drag Race" could see that Jinkx was far more a male actress a la the late great Charles Pierce than a pageant girl drag queen type. Hitting the stage with an "Anything Goes" sizzling enough to raise Porter and Merman from the dead, Ms. Monsoon is side splitting as a manic, panicked chanteuse who obviously does get her kicks from cocaine and other pharmaceuticals. With a freakishly wide vocal range, the actor brings grit, guffaws and gusto to unique interpretations of "Piece of My Heart," "I Will Survive" and a stand-out frenzied version of Kurt Weill's "Show Me the Way to the Next Whiskey Bar."
Major Scales is the perfect contrast, as the alternately controlling and dominated Dr. Von Dandy, sharing vocals, fingering the ivories, and offering an eerie understated genius performance as Kitty's cunning collaborator. Ms. Monsoon could overwhelm most co-stars, as she did her competitors on the "Drag Race," but Scales refuses to be outshone, and the pair are a quicksilver comic joy to watch and listen to.
The show is well-paced and, with just a little fine-tuning, will be ready for the Big Apple.
Judging from how many of their New York performances are sold-out all ready, it may be a while before we see Jinkx back on home territory. But in the meantime, his upcoming stint as Velma Von Tussle in 5th Avenue Theatre and Seattle Men's Chorus' Hairspray In Concert offers Seattleites another chance to marvel at this singular sensation.
The Vaudevillians runs July 9th through July 26th at the Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank, 407 W. 42nd Street, New York. For tickets, go to http://www.spincyclenyc.com/index.php
- David Edward Hughes