If you’re in the mood for a sexy, saucy, silly and scintillating musical revue, look no further than Uptown Players’ annual fundraiser : Broadway Our Way : Legally Divas! their debut performance in the new Kalita Humphreys Theater venue. Chock-full of witty, wacky, winsome, wailin’ and wicked songs, hosted by two of DFW’s most spectacular drag performers, Coy Covington and B.J. Cleveland, Broadway Our Way: Legally Divas! ratchets up the fabulously glitzy queer content, even more in evidence than years past. It’s both professional and casual, in the best possible sense. The strategy? Simply put: women sing songs composed and intended for men and men perform numbers conceived and created for women. Now does Director Andi Allen take the ball and run with this? Does BOWLD! fairly ooze with same-gender erotic energy and loopy humor? Is the show just rife with in-jokes and queer lingo? Will you have an unequivocal blast? The answer to all these questions is : “Oh my, yes!” And then some.
In addition to devious, overflowing humor, BOWLD! is widely varied in content, plucking ripe tunes from Broadway shows as diverse as Chess, The Wiz, Sweet Charity, Smokey Joe’s Café, Fosse, Annie Get Your Gun, Toxic Avenger and Sweeney Todd. 33 numbers (at least!) in two acts. Highlights include a lesbian baseball team (coached by “Rosie O’Donnell”) from Damn Yankees, bemoaning celibacy for the sake of “The Game”, a mixed-company performing choreography from the musical, Fosse in “Bye-Bye Blackbird”, Wendy Welch crooning the trashy, “Girl, Can I Kiss you?” from Cry Baby, and Sara Shelby-Martin singing “Hello Little Girl” (the Wolf’s song) to Kayla Carlyle from Into the Woods, easily the evening’s hottest number. Good Lord it gave me palpitations.
Cara Stratham Serber provided one of the evening’s most genuinely moving and glorious moments when she sang the tender, “Not while I’m around,” from Sweeney Todd. Choreographer John de los Santos was (as always) filled with grace and aplomb as he danced and sang “If They Could See Me Now” from Sweet Charity. Cleveland and Covington stopped the show more than once, whether engaged in bitchy in-fighting or over-the-top caricature numbers featuring the “likes” of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. All performers were only too glad to breach the “fourth wall” at the expense of any bashful audience members in the front row.
A beautiful ballad is always beautiful of course, but I did find it exhilarating and touching to see some personal, romantic expressions of same-gender love captured and manifested on the stage. After decades of seeing only other-gender couples tell their stories and gay people depicted as degenerates and freaks, it was nurturing and breathtaking to see courtship, desire, longing, heartbreak, reconceived in a way I could relate to. (I got so tired of straight folks trying to recruit me.) One could hardly describe BOWLD! as a message piece, and yet, the bracingly simple idea that just maybe love is the same for all us, regardless of context, seemed to come through. We all want love in our lives, and we all have the right to imbue that miraculous event with our own particulars.
This review originally appeared in EDGEdallas.com
Uptown Players Presents : Broadway Our Way : Legally Divas! Playing January 15th-24th, 2010 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater. 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, TX 75219. 214-219-2718. uptown players.org