Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: She's Got the Power

By Michael Block

In 1995, the world was introduced to a woman who would forever change history. Known for her intimate affair with the President, Monica Lewinsky was, and still is, a household name. Using her as the centerpiece, Power Over POTUS by Erica Vlahinos is a farcical fantasy rooted in truth where Monica recounts why what happened happened.
Playing the Laurie Beechman Theatre, Power Over POTUS is a parody musical that explores the various mistresses of our Presidents through the lens of the 90s favorite Monica. Written and performed by Erica Vlahinos, Power Over POTUS is a laugh riot. While it's certainly, by design, no Assassins, Vlahinos has infused humor in history to lampoon one of the most infamous news cycles in our history. The plot is simple. The time is now. Monica Lewinsky is doing a live stream tell all. We learn that her actions were all due to a Crystal Pepsi opiate dream. Using parodies of pop hits through the ages, the musical not only showcases Vlahinos' effortless performance but her stellar writing. Some of the songs strike stronger than others, but on the whole, Vlahinos has found a way to an include a spectrum of styles that remain cohesive to her storytelling. The device she uses to launch the other characters into the world is clearly a comic effect that is easily forgivable. While Monica may have been the focus, the piece truly comes to life when MK herself enters the world. It was the biggest character Vlahinos created in the piece. Beyond the ripped-from-the-headlines demeanor,she tapped into the inner Melania. The result was out of this world exciting. The Melania material was Vlahinos’ best, both on page and on stage.
Being a solo artist forces a performer to expose an immense amount of vulnerability. Whether it's a personal story or portraying a character, being the sole entertainer on a stage can be terrifying. If Erica Vlahinos was frightened, you'd have no idea. She eased into the world of parody, bringing her expert skill to the stage. It's safe to say that Erica Vlahinos is an effortless entertainer. Performance comes naturally. Through the aid of director Ben Cameron, Vlahinos is able to hammer home the comedy yet find the beats of humility for the characters, primarily Monica. There is a point late in the show where the room grows silent as Monica gets her sentimental moment and it’s, in contrast to the high-octane humor, quite beautiful. Not every comedian has the prowess to accomplish that. The comedy was expanded with Shane Snider’s video design. Whether it be moving images or the singular picture of the “Friends” apartment, the projections heightened the show ever so slightly. Costume designer Emily White did a mighty fine job not only paying homage to the infamous Monica outfit but gave a new personality to Melania’s “Slovenian Girl” look. The only clashing costume was the teal trimmed cowgirl outfit. Black hat and brown vest, not the most eye-pleasing combo.
Political parody is a tough world. There’s high expectancy as well as a much scrutiny. Sometimes you might even receive a cease and desist from the current President. No matter what, Erica Vlahinos is a well on her way to fame and Power Over POTUS proves why. Just hope her Melania show makes it to the stage. It will be a must see for sure.

Spotlight On...Henry Aronson

Name: Henry Aronson

Hometown: Brooklyn NY

Education: Midwood HS (Brooklyn), Columbia University

Favorite Credits: MD (Broadway): Rock of Ages, Rocky Horror Show, Rent

Why theater?: As a performer/conductor I like the precision and teamwork required to make a show run nice and tight, and the excitement of feeling the spontaneous audience response. As a writer, I find a larger world of emotion and expression (and freedom) in writing for characters than I could writing pop-type songs in my own voice.

Tell us about Loveless Texas: I’m very interested in exploring worlds of music I enjoy, which aren’t often heard in the theatre or in the service of dramatic action. The various country and Americana styles I employ here are examples of that.

What inspired you to write and perform in it: My wife-slash-collaborator is a natural self-starter, who keeps me from slipping into my native laziness and inertia. Does that count as inspiration?

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theater that makes you feel that you’ve been someplace new and met interesting new people, who in turn shine a light on your own experience, remembered and yet-to-come. I’m inspired by moments of emotion or experience, good or bad, that cry out for expression.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I’ve already worked, directly or tangentially, with some of my major theatre heroes (Hal Prince, Stephen Sondheim, Ralph Burns), so I’m pretty satisfied there. I don’t know: Stevie Wonder? James Taylor? Lyle Lovett? The Beatles? I don’t know if they’re hiring.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I had strongly recommended the recently closed and much-lamented Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet, because it breaks boundaries and forms in ways I wouldn’t know how to do; War Horse, because I’m a sucker for animals and puppets and a tear-jerker story. And here I run up against the failures of long-term memory.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Some short Jewish guy, I imagine. I’d hope for one of those very dramatic 40’s type titles like “Golden Melody” or “Song Without End”; or maybe the more straightforward “This Guy Wrote Some Good Songs”.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I regret having missed epic pieces of theatre like Nicholas Nickleby and Coram Boy. I did get to see Wolf Hall, and I finally caught up with Angels In America via the National Theatre Live screening — I hope to get to see the revival when it comes in.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Too much time wasted on internet window shopping. And the occasional Snickers bar.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Working in children’s books, or at an animal shelter.

What’s up next?: My wife-slash-collaborator has several projects teed up for us (partly involving animals and puppets) that are germinating in her fertile bardic mind. Otherwise, there’s internet window shopping, walking the dog, and sitting on the couch.

Spotlight On...Robin Bady

Name: Robin Bady

Hometown: Oakhurst, NJ

Education: Antioch College, New York University Professional Actor Training Program – BFA, New York University, Educational Theater, credits towards MFA

Select Credits: Timpanogos Storytelling Conference and Festival, Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Festival, Provincetown Playhouse, The Bell House, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and MothSlam winner. Storytelling tours of Ireland, China, Germany and the United States

Why theater?: After years involved in acting, directing, founding two youth theaters and one adult theater, writing, etc., I discovered storytelling and fell in love with the art form. It is simple and direct, with a immediate connection with the audience and the opportunity to tell the whole story –from all points of view – and still be able to imbue it with one central point of view! Cool! This show is my opportunity to marry together what I love best about each forms – no fourth wall and immediacy (storytelling) and ritualization and heightened performance (theater).

Tell us about Nancy Drewinsky, or, The Search for the Missing Letter: I began working on this piece during the beginning of War in Iraq. The more I read and heard and learned about the rising Islamophobia, my own family’s history of dealing with anti-Semitism during the McCarthy period became relevant. This is the story of what happened to my family during Senator Joseph McCarthy’s 1950’s Communist witch hunt. My dad worked at the Army Signal Corps of Engineers Electronic labs, based at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey. Suddenly, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, he and 40 other engineers and physicists were accused of being part of a spy ring which stole secrets to pass along to the Soviet Union. All of them, save one, were Jewish. They all lost security clearances. Some were fired. All were humiliated. This show is the story of what happened, and how it affected my family. One thing I did not expect was how emotional this story would be to research. How much shame and fear were uncovered. It took me a long time to get the courage to get past each section, and to finally finish the story. And I am aware that it is still, sadly, relevant today.

What's it like being part of United Solo Festival?: It is one –an honor, two–  a thrill to be amongst other lovers of solo art, three– fabulous to be in an international festival and four – EXCITING!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love most theater and storytelling. All speak to me, as long as there is honesty embedded within. I love theater with a point of view, with a message, that speaks to my intellect as well as my emotions. I particularly love theater that I keep thinking about weeks after, where something stays with me. Who inspires me? Brecht, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Bernhardt, Elinora Duse, many comedians, many storytellers including Elizabeth Ellis and Dovie Thomason, and any performer who will keep making his/her art no matter what the reviews are!

What’s your favorite showtune?: Anything from Little Me or Little Mary Sunshine

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I will work with anyone who is fun, or serious, loves to communicate and wants to play!.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Shakespeare, during his lifetime or Greek comedies or tragedies – in the open amphitheaters. Also, Brecht, directing any one of his shows pre-or post-WW2 and the original Einstein on the Beach.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:  Go see storytelling! The Moth, at the Hans Christian Andersen Statue in Central Park, at one of the many festivals around the country and around the world. Any show. Enjoy!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Detective novels and cop shows!

What’s up next?: Touring Nancy Drewinsky, or, the Search for the Missing Letter. Writing a book of the true ghost stories told to me by people who I have met in my travels.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Spotlight On...Megan Reilly

Name: Megan Reilly

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Education: I studied musical theater at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and received my BFA.

Select Credits: I spent this past August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with Baby Wants Candy performing their signature, improvised musical show as well as a written, parody musical called Thrones! The Musical in which I played the role of Daenerys Targaryen.

Why theater?: I have always been drawn to making people happy whether that be through a kind gesture or a ridiculous joke. Comedy, in particular, gives me the ability to spread joy in a way that speaks deeply to my soul. I also love knowing that I have the ability to empower other women to be funny. Women are funny! Women are fierce! We should all be building each other up. Dreams can come true, you just have to freaking go for it.

Who do you play in ANYBODY: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera?: Since every show is different and we have no idea what the show will be until we are doing it, there are no real "roles" in Anybody. I am one of the improvisers and take on whatever role, or roles, I find essential to the narrative we are telling when we are finally telling it.

Tell us about ANYBODY: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera: Believe it or not, everything about this show is created entirely on the spot. The rapping, the dialogue, the dancing and the music. We begin the show by getting the suggestion of a historical figure or icon from the audience and then we perform an hour long, narrative hip-hopera about that individuals life. I love this show because we do whatever we can to honor the time period that this person lived in. We also get as much accurate information about their life as possible to tell a genuine, honest, grounded story with our wild and wonderful North Coast flare. Have you ever heard of that little old Broadway blockbuster called Hamilton? Well, this is basically like an improvised version of that show but the historical figure changes night after night.

What is it like being a part of ANYBODY: An Improvised Historical Hip-Hopera?: I do not think I have ever connected with anything as deeply as I connect to this show. Well, maybe burritos but when it comes to artistic expression this show takes me on a journey to places within my heart and mind I didn't even know were there. Jody Shelton, our director, pushes us as a cast to dig deeper emotionally, musically and mindfully. This is the kind of show that has you in side-splitting laughter one minute and then on the verge of tears the very next. It is playful, it is silly, it is heartfelt, it is honest. This show takes the magic of theater to a whole, new level since everything we create has never been done before and will never be done again. I am so freaking proud to be a part of this cast. I believe in this show so much and it is a privilege to be able to bring it to life.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I have been in love with musical theater for as long as I can remember. I grew up in New Jersey and every Christmas my parents would bring my sister and I into New York City to see a Broadway musical. This trip was always the highlight of the holidays for me since it set me on the path that has gotten me to where I am now. I honestly don't think there is anything quite like an overture starting in a Broadway house. I cry every, single time! I am also obsessed with rap music. It inspires the heck out of me and nothing makes me happier. I love the unapologetic swag and I try to bring that into my life and my own art.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I know I should have an answer to this question but honestly I am just dying to be someone who can eat a bacon, egg and cheese bagel every, single morning without it plumping me up.

What’s your favorite show tune?: This is totally cliche but "On My Own" from Les Mis is a song that made me fall in love with singing.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:  I want to collaborate on a track with Drake. I love Drake. Drake is BAE.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The movie would take place later in my life and I would be played by Meryl Streep. It would be a tale of reflection on the reckless and wild youth that once blossomed like hot summer within my soul and my loins. It would be called "Life of the Party."

What show have you recommended to your friends?: One of my favorite musicals of all time is Aida. The music, the story, the romance...hot dayum! I think everyone should see this show. I also think everyone should see the movie Blades of Glory because it is so dumb and funny and Jay-Z and Kanye sample some dialogue from it on one of their songs so like people should get on that train.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: What is this iTunes you speak of? Spotify all the way, BB! Just kidding...I am not sure I know what my most played song is but my go to, pump up JAM is HYFR by Drake featuring the one, the only Lil Wayne.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Ordering a decadent meal on Seamless, eating it in my bed and then immediately ordering another decadent meal on Seamless all the while pretending that the first meal did not happen.

What’s up next?: I am a lucky lady who gets to travel the world making up musicals and spreading joy, so I am up to a lot of that in the coming months. I am also buckling down and working on my alter, rap-ego La Dynasty. Be on the lookout for my debut music video! I hope to get that out to the world before the year ends.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review: Boom, Pow, Slay

By Michael Block

It's pretty safe to say that every child at one point dreamed of being a superhero. Whether your allegiance was to the D.C. or Marvel universe, the characters from the page and screen have played a huge part in our pop culture iconography. Soaring into the Laurie Beechman, four of New York's fiercest drag superstars fulfill every comic geek's fantasies in Sickening Superheroes.
photo by Michael Block
Ripped from the comics, the queens of Sickening Superheroes pack a one-two punch with on-point looks and near perfect performances as they pay homage to some of our favorite characters. Starring Bootsie Lefaris, Brenda Dharling, Brita Filter, and Holly Dae, the quartet slay the house down, bringing their individual super powers. An extension of the Distorted series of shows, this show is a geek's fantasy. But similarly to the others, the show is formulaic. The night begins with an exceptional group number and then leads into solo after solo after solo, desperately seeking a surprise. There is a slight reprieve with a mid-show trivia game led by Bootsie. Despite the structure, the show defines just why these four are heroic fixtures in New York nightlife. They know how to entertain with the greatest of ease. Each of their looks were recognizable, yet unique to the performer, even if cosplay took over. They each brought smart mixes that went beyond just clips of their respective characters' dialogue. It had the crowd gagging. For the most part, they took elements of their designated characters and went full force with the theme. How could you not have a weather themed Storm mix or end Jubilee's number with Katy Perry's "Firework?" But not every routine included the obvious, and that was ok too. There was no cameo from the Coasters in the Poison Ivy mix and Harley Quinn went old school rather than the newly minted and iconic Margot Robbie look. Jokingly admitting that the walls were adorned with superhero paraphernalia from Party City, the slight addition was a welcome way to help transform the cabaret space. A few push pins is just what they need.
Drag fans who cross into comic book geekdom should race over to see Sickening Superheroes. If you just have an appreciation for drag, come for the performances. For a soft opening, these cartoon heroes and villains rose to the occasion.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Spotlight On...James Godwin

Name: James Godwin

Hometown: Dallas, PA

Education: BFA fine arts Columbus College of Art and Design.

Favorite Credits: I sell the dead, stake land, Big Big World Chappell's show. David Bowie's unseen video.

Why theater?: Theater is our most primal experience. It only lives once. No rewind. No delete. No undo.

Tell us about The Flatiron Hex: Inspired by speculative fiction and neo-noir, The Flatiron Hex is a peek inside a parallel world infected with intelligent viruses and paranoia. Set in NYORG, a city in the middle of a swamp, and told through puppets, The Flatiron Hex is the story of Wylie Walker, a contract shaman, who uses his unusual talents to troubleshoot and maintain NYORG’s interweb biotechnology.

What inspired you to write The Flatiron Hex?: I was inspired by the faculty of of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and the singular experience that can be found there. I was also insipired by the events following hurricane Sandy and the mythic as well as political implications of the flood.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: The Encounter blew me away. I am a forever fan of Bill Irwin, Mimi Goese, Dancenoise.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Irwin, Goese, Dancenoise, and Neil Patrick Harris.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Flatiron Hex

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would play myself in a documentary about The Flatiron Hex.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Fosse's Chicago invited dress rehearsal.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Guilt is a social norm. Okay, "Law and Order".

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Plastic Surgeon. Go-go dancer. Fitness personality.

What’s up next?: More The Flatiron Hex.

For more on The Flatiron Hex, visit www.theflatironhex.com

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spotlight On...Cailin Heffernan

Names: Cailín Heffernan

Hometowns: Galveston, Texas; NYC

Education: O’Connell College Preparatory School, Texas Christian University (Ballet Performance B.A., minors in Theatre and Literature - just short of a minor in World History) HB, T. Schreiber went back to the New American Theatre School and HB for directing, following up with 5 years at the Writers/Directors Unit at Actors Studio

Favorite Credits: Venus Observed and The Real Thing with Boomerang; my adaptation of All for Love with Boomerang, Monte Cristo at Urban Stages with New Light Theatre Project; all my Shakespeares - Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Cymbeline and this past winter’s archival filming of Rose Leiman Goldemberg’s Letters Home with Kathleen Chalfant and Rachel Botchan at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium.  I am also proud of three O’Neill’s, a Williams and a Miller - my American canon.

Why theater?: It’s where I can do everything - dance, act, move, speak, sing, create worlds - sometimes using unusual devices such as contemporary Kabuki, Delsarte, Dalcroze, live foley, instrumentation, mime….  I am constantly thinking “what next?” and ponder who and what can I create then.

Tell us about Loveless Texas: It’s a story, at its heart, of two brothers who are driven apart.  They each express their dissatisfaction with life in two ways - one through repression, manipulation and cold control; the second through unedited hedonism, desperate running away and then terrified capitulation.  Only after they heal themselves and their bond, can they free themselves up for love, friendship and communal solidarity.

What inspired you to write and perform in it: I was intrigued as Love’s Labour’s Lost is an unresolved play and felt I could use some of the ideas contained in it as a springboard.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I attend a lot of world events - Taiko Drums, Greek Dance and Theatre, Kabuki, Music Concerts, National Theatre of Scotland, National Theatre Live presentations… a peek into how the world views itself.  I am obsessed with culture, communication and story telling.  I am inspired by clarity, insightfulness, inventiveness and beauty as well as Phyllida Lloyd, Joss Whedon, Marianne Elliot, Trevor Nunn, Julie Taymor, Enda Walsh, Graciela Daniele, Tom Stoppard, Suzan Lori-Parks, Jez Butterworth and Lynn Nottage.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Oh, so many brilliant actors…. I’d love the chance to work with Frank Dillane, James Callis, Mark Rylance, John Glover, Victor Garber, Francois Arnaud, Mary Louise Parker, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Samira Wiley, Priyanka Chopra and the singer Kostas Martakis, oh and Trevor Noah and Christian Camargo - that’s just a beginning.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: That would be plural… The Great Comet was amazing.  Wolf Hall - parts 1 and 2.  Black Watch from the National Theatre of Scotland.   Kneehigh’s 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips.  War Horse.  And a small play from Smock Alley in Dublin called The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle by Ross Dungin.  I also highly recommended Trevor Nunn’s all-American cast of Pericles at Theatre for A New Audience a season or two ago with the remarkable Christian Camargo.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Now that’s a perverse thought.  I think I would refuse any participation in such a doomed project.  :  )  But I’d like to have Canadian actor Steve Bacic play me.  I’d carry a lot more gravitas and brawn that way.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I am so happy that I did not miss Coram Boy by Helen Edmundson.  I am bereft that I missed Nicholas Nickleby with Roger Rees and John Lynch.  Also, the original Miss Saigon and the original Pacific Overtures.  But I have seen so much of the remarkable that I can’t kick.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Ah, the television I watch - I do no art on television…. it’s all zombies, dragons, vampires, witches and monsters.  I have also watched Supernatural since its first season.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:  Writing more, I am at heart a story teller and love to live in my head.

What’s up next?: I am directing the next developmental step in a gorgeous 4-hander by the talented Traci Godfrey called Sweet Texas Reckoning in December.  I directed an industry presentation last December with Robert Cuccioli, Rita Gardner, Michelle Hurd and Carolyn McCormick.  It was a blast.  Then I am down for a couple of months of dedicated writing and traveling before directing again.  It’s a good life.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Review: A Rant of One's Own

By Kelly Kohlman 

A Haiku:

Growing up is hard.
Relationships can hurt us.
It gets better, though.

Angsty haiku, silly songs, and cheating boyfriends abound in I Kissed Your Boyfriend: Another Feminist Rant, Laura Kay’s autobiographical one-woman show, which premiered Off-Broadway last October as part of the 2016 United Solo Theatre Festival. Kay and her all-female team have revived the show for a second round at the PIT Underground running August 24-26.
For about an hour, Kay guides us through her personal history of perspectives on love and sex, from childhood to adolescence and on to young adulthood. She does so by roaming around her unpacked bedroom, which is filled with cardboard boxes, most of them labeled with the names of men who had done her wrong (and a few with fun descriptors such as  “Assholes”).  As she literally unpacks each box, she figuratively unpacks her associated baggage in a procession of anecdotes of growing up and self-discovery, from her first kiss to her #Feminist awakening.
Kay’s likeability and candidness make a pleasant evening out of her diary entry-style script. To whom she intends to be speaking throughout the piece is unclear, but her heart is laid bare, her storytelling is earnest, and her charm is undeniable.
Chelsea B. Lockie’s direction incorporates welcome movement and use and space into the piece, and the original songs sprinkled throughout, composed by Jeff Gorcyca, are a fun and irreverent addition.
I Kissed Your Boyfriend: Another Feminist Rant is just that, a rant in long form, primarily about no-good lowdown men, packed tight full of experiences that many young women today can relate to. The hopeful takeaway from the drudgery being that though love and sex and gender politics can drive us to our breaking point, we are all, in fact, going to be okay.

Meet the Queens: The Ultimate Drag Pageant Season 4 Finale

The Ultimate Drag Pageant is about to conclude an incredible season with a grand finale on Wednesday, September 6th at 11:00pm at The West End. Showcasing some of New York's newest batch of drag talent, five fierce competitors are about to do battle to snatch the season 4 crown as well as a monthly gig at the host venue. Hosted by Marti Gould Cummings and Nedra Bella, The Ultimate Drag Pageant finale will feature Bijoux, Didi Cumswell, Haireola Grande, Poppy, and Vanna Deux. Before they wow you at The West End, get to know a little about the girls!

MEET THE QUEENS

Bijoux

What is the best thing about being a part of the Ultimate Drag Pageant?: The best thing about being in the Ultimate Drag Pageant this season has been the personal growth that’s come out of it. Being fairly new to drag and entering an 8-week long competition is not easy, and it really forces you to work your ass off. Luckily there has been a surplus of talent surrounding me, and I’ve learned so many things, not just from the hosts and guest judges, but also from the other 7 girls who entered. This season has created some extremely tight-knit bonds, and I can’t wait for us all to work together in the very near future.

What was your favorite performance of the first 7 weeks?: I would have to say that my favorite number to perform was actually my first number. The confidence/performance level wasn’t as polished as it is now, but I’m really excited to revamp it and bring it back to new audiences. I danced, I lip-synced, and I was fairly naked with a French theme, so it feels like a very accurate representation of what I love to do.

What can we expect from you in the finale?: For the finale, I’m headed back to my roots. I’ve definitely shown that I can dance, and that I’m a fun, sexy, energetic queen, and now I want to really show the technique that I have. I didn’t get that dance degree for nothing!

@bijoux.xo

Didi Cumswell

What is the best thing about being a part of the Ultimate Drag Pageant?: The best thing about being a part the Ultimate Drag Pageant has certainly been the connections. I have met so many talented people through the competition and have made lasting friendships with these girls. These new connections all offer diverse insights into drag and performing. It's been a wonderful, enriching experience and I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls to perform with.

What was your favorite performance of the first 7 weeks?: My favorite performance of the first seven weeks has to be my Serial Mom mix that I did for 90's week. I was given a note the week prior that I could go even farther with my actions and be even more extreme, fully commit. In doing the Serial Mom mix I was able to take that note immediately and really delve into performing at an even more heightened level and it was (personally) a great performance because I fully committed to the actions, and I didn't let myself get in my way. I let go of everything and had fun.

What can we expect from you in the finale?: You can expect Didi to be true to herself in the finale. She's gonna come in strong with Golden Age Hollywood. She will be serving period inspired looks that she constructed herself (with the help of her historically accurate boyfriend). You will be entertained!!!

@didicumswell

Haireola Grande

What is the best thing about being a part of the Ultimate Drag Pageant?: The best thing about being involved with the Ultimate Drag Pageant other than gaining some amazing new sisters would most certainly be pushing myself creatively! I have always thought of myself as a creative individual but it was not until this pageant that I pushed the envelope.

What was your favorite performance of the first 7 weeks?: My favorite performance thus far from the first 7 weeks was by far week 3, cartoon week! I had my mother in the audience and it was the first time I created my own mix and had a reveal!

What can we expect from you in the finale?: In the upcoming finale you can expect to see what I've been giving week to week. Super tight lip synchs with an irreverent and comedic edge!

@shitsngreggles

Poppy

What has been the best part about being a part of the Ultimate Drag Pageant?: Learning from the other contestants and judges each week.

What was your favorite performance of the first 7 weeks?: My Black Swan number, where I bled and ripped my skin off.

What can we expect from you in the finale?: Malicious gay faggotry

@thecolorpoppy

Vanna Deux

What has been the best thing about being a part of the Ultimate Drag Pageant?: Getting the opportunity to showcase my creativity. I'm an actor, stylist, musician, and singer and this competition has given me the platform to showcase all that and then some.

What was your favorite performance of the first 7 weeks?: That's tough - I loved my Janet Jackson megamix from 90's week, but I think I'd have to ultimately go with my winning Hedwig mix from Broadway week. I also got to do something really special for week 7, which was play and sing a song that I didn't get the chance to perform at my dear friend's memorial service. I passed around a bucket to raise money for the Jimmy Fund - the organization that helped care for Bryan. I ended up making about $100 in one 4-minute song and that felt pretty cool.

What can we expect from you in the finale?: You can expect Vanna's signature showstopping buffoonery. Tricks, stunts, gaggery. And you know she always slaughters the runway.

#DoTheDeux
@kylevanzandt