Monday, April 11, 2016

Review: Gypsies, Tramps, Thieves, and Alaska

As our diva rightly said, Cher is in all of us. Actually old but looks young. A little bit feminine, a little bit masculine. She's a perfect icon to pay tribute to. Former RuPaul's Drag Race finalist and international drag superstar Alaska Thunderfuck 5000 takes Cher's extensive songbook and gives them the Alaska treatment in Cher and Cher Alike playing the Laurie Beechman Theater.
Assisted by the appropriately named Handsome Jeremy, Cher and Cher Alike celebrates Cher's hits in a manner only Alaska can do. Alaska begins her cabaret with a loving tribute of the classics, adjusting the lyrics as she sees fits, like in the iconic duet "I Got You Babe" replacing babe with everything from the b word to the c word, or calling attention to the ridiculousness of lyrics, like the never-ending "The Shoop Shoop Song". This portion of the show gives fans what they're looking for: reads, shades, and crude humor. It's dry and hilarious. But after a little channeling of the spirits, and a casual costume change, Cher takes over Alaska's body for a rip-roarious shade session. She even does a medley of hit songs that should have been hers including "Single Ladies" and the theme song from RuPaul's Drag Race. Whether scripted or through improvisation, the text is works well. There’s a systematic nature to everything.
Overall, Cher and Cher Alike is more than just homage. It proves Alaska is more than a comedy queen. Girl can sing! Even within her character’s lackadaisical persona, her vocal proficiency shines through. You have to be skilled to sing “badly” on purpose. But it’s when Cher takes over, Alaska dazzles. She has the ability to capture the essence of Cher through mannerisms and vocal inflection. Alaska has a passive electricity on stage and the hilarity of her eccentricity that draws the audience in.
Whether you’ve already seen her live or not, Alaska’s Cher and Cher Alike will certainly entertain. You’ll enjoy yourself even if the only knowledge you have is knowing who she is. But if Cher is your icon, then this is a show for you.