WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHEN?: Last night Wednesday 19 May 2021
RUNTIME: 120 minutes (including 15-minute interval)
This is the 1st West End show we’ve seen since December and the 1st time we’ve been part of an audience that danced at the encore to a fab production in a long, long time.
- Read on for reasons including what your chances are of seeing this show again in the West End or on tour
Drag Race UK winner The Vivienne and season 2 stars Tia Kofi and Veronica Green are joined by Shania Pain for a show called Drag Queens Of Pop which highlights what brilliant singers they are as they pay tribute to acts like Girls Aloud and the Spice Girls while also showcasing their own talents.
Scouse-sounding The Vivienne won season 1 but wasn’t our favourite that year yet opens the show here and proves what an engaging hostess she is as well as being devastatingly funny during an early stand-up part of this show during which she quizzes the masked audience. We were aware of her impersonation skills during Drag Race UK when she did a fine Donald Trump but here her Cher is spot on during Walking On Memphis and it’s the stuff of comedy geniuses.
She’s so assured that we’re not quite sure the pop career that she’s currently in the fast lane of is quite for her although her singing is always impressive and her closing song (Meatloaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love) hints that perhaps she’s better off not overthinking what she’s doing.
Veronica Green’s debut single Stars features here and was a song of the week for us in April and its musical theatre style is a welcome change from the pop which mostly takes centre stage proving Green could carve out out a West End career for herself if she so chose.
What we find most endearing about Green is that she’s willing to poke fun at her Achilles heel exposed in Drag Race UK, her difficulty in doing stand up. As well as her impressive singing, her relationship with Kofi – best mates on screen, arch rivals off it – is well mined during a hilarious take on Britney Spears’ Toxic featuring fine dancers Corey Mitchell, Isaac Hesketh and Rachael Blaney.
Tia Kofi has a soulful voice and for us she is the 1 of the 4 acts onstage which has settled most comfortably into releasing pop singles. Look What You’ve Done with Cahill was a recent song of the week for us and the Little Boots-co-write and previous single Outside In is both catchy and dark.
We’re also loving her dry sense of humour which means when she dubs herself the ‘Dua Lipa of drag’ it is the perfect introduction to a comedy number focusing on how tough the gym will be post-lockdown inspired by that artist’s big hit Physical.
Liverpool’s Shania Pain (far left) perhaps has the most work to do because she is not familiar through Drag Race UK but her comedy take on Jennifer Rush’s 80s chart topper The Power Of Love where she combines an impressive falsetto with a more gruff voice contributing ‘And I am a man’ split sides.
The most touching moment during the show comes when The Vivienne alights upon an eight-year-old who is somehow part of the audience. When he says he wants to be an actor, the star is genuinely encouraging while also explaining that those onstage tonight include a ‘failed’ actor, dancer and singer.
Later she refers to how it took 4 drag queens and 3 dancers to reopen the West End and this show is quite remarkable for enjoying its 3 nights as soon as England’s 2nd lockdown eased and theatres were allowed to reopen for the 1st time since December.
It’s quite emotional to be part of an audience dancing during an encore for the 1st time in so long and when the Vivienne says the cast want to either tour this show or have another West End run, it’s so good and we’ve had so much fun, we’d suggest the latter.