Sunday, March 18, 2018

Review: How to Succeed in Topping Yourself

By Michael Block 

It's hard to top yourself. Just ask any of the twinks in Hells Kitchen, Paige Turner might say. Double entendre aside, when you're a seasoned artist with hit after hit, you might think the next one will be the one that flops. Yet somehow Paige Turner continues to defy the odds with her latest smash, Drag Me to the Top. After a stint in Puerto Vallarta and Boston, Paige brings the show home to the Laurie Beechman Theater for a two-month Wednesdays residency.
photo by Michael Block
Think of Drag Me to the Top as a potential future pilot of the Paige Turner universe. The concept of the show follows Paige after she stumbles upon a handy dandy rule book that will make her a star. In this hour-long comedy romp, Paige discovers how to be the star that she knows she already is. Laced with sugary covers of showtunes, pop songs, and entendre after entendre that keeps the gays "yas-ing," Drag Me to the Top is the full package. Whether it's your first time or your fortieth time seeing Paige, she ensures that you know exactly what she's about to bring. With a Queen opener, sung through the audience, Paige smartly and comically alerts the audience that this is her show and to not stop her now because she's having a good time. From there, she's off to the races. The set list Paige infuses is a wonderful blend of classics, Broadway standards, and pop ditties, all of which have a coloration to the themes of the rule book. They don't feel forced, but appropriately fitting. Rather than sprinkling in a plot through line, Paige makes the story a driving force that carries the show from start to finish. There's nothing extravagant about it. It's simple and straightforward. And that's all it needed to be. When an idea is smartly conceived, it allows the execution to be flawless. And that it was. Paige brings a great comfort in this performance. She scattered some fan favorite numbers amongst some fresh material, but no matter what she sings, she exudes a confidence that is insatiable. She always turns out some impressive costumes, but when you're able to rock out in a robe in a fabric of your own cartoons, you know you've landed on the top. And kudos to Gloria Swansong for the impressive costumes, seen twice in the show.
She jokes about being polarizing in the show, and later sings a number about being a good person. Regardless of where you fall on the "off the stage" spectrum, Paige Tuner has the stuff that legends are made of. Drag Me to the Top should be launch pad to the next level. There is an untapped medium that deserves Paige Turner. Spend an entire first season watching Paige try to drag herself to the top. Introduce the whacky characters she's brought out in her other shows. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it until the universe obliges, give her a webseries. Hell, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, whoever is listening, option this star while you still can.