Friday, August 11, 2017

Review: Thank You for Being Our Queen

By Michael Block

When you think she couldn't top herself, she does. Current reigning Drag Race All-Stars champion triumphantly Alaska returns to the Laurie Beechman in her newest homage to America's favorite geriatric divas, "The Golden Girls." With a great assist from Handsome Jeremy on the piano, Alaska proves just why she is one of the smartest artists on any planet.
photo by Michael Block
The iconic 80s sitcom "The Golden Girls" gets a loving tribute in On Golden Girls. With a panache for comedy and performance, drag superstar Alaska structures the night in perfect fashion. And don't worry, there's no laugh track needed here. It comes naturally. She begins the show with the infamous theme song decked out in a dress of Blanche's bedspread. She deadpan reveals that this is not going to be a night of theater with costume changes and theatrical pizzazz. But it totally is. From there, she hails the holy Golden Girls scripture and channels the brown magic scripture to transform into the quarter. What happens next is nothing short of extraordinary. Yes, on the surface On Golden Girls is a tribute show but it’s more than that. It’s an artist displaying their innate gift to transcend expectations. Fans of Drag Race go to see Alaska because of what they saw her do on two seasons of a television program. And that only scratches the surface of the talent she possesses. She can sing, she can dance, she can act, and she can write. On Golden Girls is a dramaturgical wonder. It’s smartly formulaic comedy that is calculated to the beat. Dissect On Golden Girls and you will see nearly every moment, including jokes, references, and visuals, are planned out to create a cohesive piece. There are great expectations when it comes to mocking “The Golden Girls.” The archetypes of the women are strictly identifiable. Alaska played into that yet gave herself the opportunity to make them her own. Fast-talking Sophia workshopped her solo show as you pictured her time in Sicily. We watched as Blanche has a fall from grace as she waits desperately for her date. Rose was dimwitted but there was a deepness to her. And Dorothy? Well her gruffness shined through. It’s one thing to just stand there and impersonate a character. Alaska has proven her worth there on Snatch Game. But to embody each in the manner she does? Comedy gold. And those costumes were flawless and iconic. Handsome Jeremy provided the pulse of the show. To strategically cover the character changes, Handsome Jeremy played numbers iconic to the sitcom. The soundtrack that accompanied the show featured numbers that were prominently a part of the series including “Miami is Nice” and “The Saint Olaf Fight Song.” These were just some of the nuggets and Easter eggs that were hidden for the die hard fans.
It’s important to remember that the show was built for a cabaret space performed by a solo artist. Alaska took on the persona of the pastor of the scripture of the Golden Girls. But this show showcased her ability to do more. She has a background in theater, perhaps the next challenge is to see what a full show would be.