Monday, September 23, 2019

Review: Drag in Live Cartoon Form

By Michael Block

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, "The Simpsons" have been a staple in the pop culture lexicon for virtually three decades. The cartoon has become timeless in the sense that there seems to never be a wrong to pay homage through parody. Now at the Laurie Beechman comes The Simsinz, a loving drag send off on "The Simpsons". Whether you’re a loyal fan of the series or simply a lover of drag, there’s something for everyone here.
photo by Michael Block
Previously representing the Beechman through her Amy Winehouse tribute show, Cissy Walken brings a bunch of her pals to the stage to become the iconic yellow-tinted cartoon American family, looks and all. Told through sound clips from the cartoon and music references from pop to Broadway, this edition of the show puts a queer lens on the characters. Is it possible everyone is gay? In Marge’s mind, absolutely. The Simsinz is a wonderfully whimsical, and slightly perverse, spin on the animated classic, littered in pop culture nostalgia. There is a semblance of a plot, though the closer you are to the franchise perhaps the easier it is to find. Marge is on the verge of a breakdown as her husband Homer and three kids, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, aid to the chaos of her life. After a little sniff of bleach, Marge goes on a fantastical adventure as all the characters in the Matt Groening universe appear to be on a journey of self-discovery. There’s a special charm to the show that makes it a special event. The drag is spot on. The theatricality polish can be improved, but hey, it is a cabaret space after all.
The entire ensemble took the iconic characters and brought them to life with the greatest of ease, while still maintaining an essence of their own drag personas. As Marge, Cissy Walken plays the straight man in the scene. Her take on the character, comparatively, is the most grounded. With the show being entirely lip synced, Cissy does surprise the crowd late in the show with a bit of a vocal gag. As Homer, Coco Taylor goes on a fantastical journey through song and dance as Homer tries to discover his true self. Taking on the three kids, Aria Derci, Pussy Willow, and Andy Starling, as Bart, Lisa, and Maggie respectfully, dazzle in their solo moments.  But wait, did you think other characters wouldn’t make cameos? Mrs. Krabapple, Milhouse, and Ralphie all pop by, but it’s Marge’s sisters, Patty and Selma, that steal the show. With a little Side Show to cap it off, Coco Taylor and Aria Derci’s take on the Bouvier twins is one of the highlights of the night. This piece is only as successful as it’s appearance. The costumes by Pierretta Viktori and the wigs by Scott Feigr Curly are major players in Why this show works.
While there is still some tweaking and finessing to do, The Simsinz is a must do at the Beechman. There have been very few shows of this whacky nature to grace this stage.