Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Review: Gloria Gloria Gloria

By Michael Block

First we waited for Godot. Then it was Guffman. Now, we're waiting for Judy Garland. Making her Greenroom 42 debut, Gloria Swansong brings a little bit of Gloria and a little bit of Judy to the stage in Waiting for Garland. A two-act epic drag dramedy, Waiting for Garland introduces the audience to why Gloria and Judy are a dynamic duo.
photo by Michael Block
Gloria Swansong is brought to the stage to announce that her partner for the night, the one and only Judy Garland has not arrived yet. So to kill time, Gloria has to tell some outlandish stories of her past while entertaining the crowd with some of her signature numbers. Between "Let's Have a Kiki" and "Cell Block Tango," Gloria gave us a uniquely remarkable narrative. Who knew that Gloria was a part of an old-timey trio! As she stalls and stalls, Gloria discovers Judy may actually be deceased, and finally leans into dark magic to summon Judy because that's why we came! After the séance worked, Judy takes over Gloria's body to perform some of her iconic numbers. Waiting for Garland is a surrealistic drag spectacular. While the script does get a little long-winded, the meat of the show is learning how Judy came into Gloria's life. In a cabaret setting, less is always more. Shrinking the amount improvised banter and perhaps eliminating a number or two in each act may allow the show to be a brisk ninety-minute show. Waiting for Garland is also a new and intimate look into the stage persona of Gloria Swansong. Is she really an old broad from the Vaudevillian circuit? Did she really get offered a role in Chicago? Probably not, but having a perspective is fresh for a cabaret. Whether or not you know her or not, Waiting for Garland is your opportunity to learn about the artist. And if you didn't know, she's an exceptional designer and seamstress. To remind the audience of this, Gloria keeps a garment rack of costumes that she goes in and out of throughout the show. To help with the pacing, perhaps including a hired hand in the form of a hunky lad could be in order. The costume showcase is a large part of what makes Gloria, so finding a way to incorporate it in a smoother fashion is a necessity.
The skeleton of an exceptional cabaret is all there. Now it's finessing the mechanics of the piece that will take it to the next level. Gloria Swansong has given audiences her Judy shows, now's her chance to give a reason why.