Friday, October 27, 2017

Review: A Beautiful Nightmare

By Michael Block

Jackie Cox was recently crowned the winner of So You Think You Can Drag All Stars. I Dream of Jackie 2 is proof why she won. Returning to the Laurie Beechman with a sequel to her hit debut show, Jackie Cox takes on her evil side in this hilarious comedy.
photo by Michael Block
If you missed the original, don’t worry; the exposition is alive and well. Jackie Cox, genie of the people, went on a fabulous adventure, brining wishes to all. But her evil twin sister Jacqueline was unleashed to wreak havoc on the world. With smart song selections and the brilliance of campy comedy, I Dream of Jackie 2 does something most sequels can’t do: be better than the original. What it comes down to is the writing. Jackie uses the sequel formula in crafting her piece. She allows the audience to have references to the original while maintaining its ability to stand on its own. If you lined up both next to one another, you can see the parallels. And by being referential to it through humor allowed Jackie to prove why her formula worked. Even if you didn’t pick up on these moments, the jokes still landed. She uses a nice blend of musical genres to hammer home the story. From the standard Broadway “I Want” song to the classic 60s “longing” mid-tempo ballad to the perfectly placed Christina Aguilera moment, the evening was cohesive. I sat in my seat beats before the “I Want” song thinking, “You know what would be perfect for this moment? ‘I Want the Good Times Back’ from The Little Mermaid musical.” And guess what? She delivered! Jackie Cox doesn’t just meet expectations, she exceeds them. There’s a bit of a looser performance this time around. And it may be due to the fact that it’s a heck of a lot of fun playing the bad queen. Jackie Cox is still present in Jacqueline. But the vocal affectations and villainous mannerisms separate the two. Like the first part, Jackie doesn’t do it alone. With the aid of Drew Bloom and Blake McIver, who returns again as director, the backup boys, this time clad in leather, get a bit of arc in the conflict. Yet another reason why this story flows. After two shows, these boys are ripe for a spin off. Perhaps an origin story.
It seems anyone can be a drag queen nowadays, but not all drag queens are stars. Jackie Cox is a star. I Dream of Jackie 2 is a beautiful nightmare. Jackie Cox has begun to establish a world of her own, quite similarly to Paige Turner. Let’s say Paige Turner is the “Cheers” and Jackie Cox is the “Frasier.” She's a brilliant supporting player in Paige's world who comes to life in her own. It’s inevitable that there is a third saga in this trilogy. Comedy works best in threes. But what will that one be?