Pros: A vibrant cabaret with big personalities and even bigger voices.
Cons: Despite the promising surtitle, there’s little actual history to this show; a bit more depth would not have gone amiss.
From her entrance into The Spiegeltent right down to the very last bow, Velma has the audience wrapped around her little finger. Never before have I been part of a crowd that responded quite so enthusiastically to being told to ‘click along, you lazy bitches’. Velma is joined on stage for duets by special guests, Kerry Ellis and Jessie Wallace, both attired in classy men’s wear and a stick-on moustache. Each of the ladies join Velma in a duet, Ellis on I’ll Cover You from Rent, and Wallace on David Bowie’s Starman, .
They are two gorgeous performances, although Velma certainly doesn’t need the added star power to command our attention. With her impressive vocal range and compelling stage presence, each song is a delight. A particular highlight is the pop star-impersonation-mega mix, featuring the likes of Anastacia, Tina Turner and an uncannily spot-on Shakira. Recurring attempts to get the audience to do a sort of surround sound whisper every time Velma whips out her ‘Tranny Bible’ are slightly less successful, although I’m proud to say we had improved a lot by the end of the evening.
All the hilarity aside, there are some genuinely touching moments to the show, like Velma’s explanation of the Stonewall riots (‘for the not gays in the audience’) or her tribute to David Bowie. An actual history of Drag this show is not; at a good 75 minutes it’s too short for that, and its arrangement too haphazard. But as an entertaining night out, it’s a resounding success.