BWW Reviews: Courtney Act's BOYS LIKE ME Exudes Heart and Suggestion
Before Courtney Act was an absolute sensation on LOGO's RuPaul's Drag Race's sixth season, she was shaking things up in her native Australia. Around three years ago, the drop dead gorgeous blonde bombshell moved from Australia to West Hollywood. With decadent vocal talent, mesmerizing stage presence, charisma, charm, and looks for days, Courtney Act gained an instantaneous fan following. Now that RuPaul's Drag Race has broadened her platform, she is touring her torrid, one-woman tell-all BOYS LIKE ME, which packs as much heart as it does ribald suggestion.
This isn't the first time Courtney Act has performed BOYS LIKE ME at The Laurie Beechman Theater in New York City. In fact, this is a command return engagement of the hit cabaret show. Even though I was experiencing it for the first time Tuesday night, it was abundantly clear that Courtney Act has a slew of return visitors. As soon as Courtney Act took the stage, it was instantly clear why her fans cannot get enough of her and come back time and time again. There is no denying that Courtney Act knows how to work a crowd, and she knows how to make you more than glad you chose to attend her show. As a one-woman cabaret performance, a fair amount of narcissism is required for the show to work. In this vein, Courtney Act delivers; however, she never comes across as being above her audience. Instead, she connects with us on our level, makes us laugh and dance along the entire evening, and leaves us uplifted and in high spirits when she goes.
For this return engagement, she tried out a fabulous new opening number that I hope she keeps. Walking through the audience to the stage with a nice riff coming from the electric bass guitar, Courtney Act launched into a rousing cover of Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb" with a surprise interpolation of Beyoncé's "Blow." With vivacity and wit, she told how she hoped to channel a sexy Marilyn Monroe-esque interpretation for the number, but feared she came across as bit too bombastic and ended up channeling Tom Jones instead.
As the evening progressed, she regaled the audience with hysterical and sometimes very touching stories from her own life. Most of them revolved around chasing or being chased by straight men while in drag, giving audiences a titillating peek into the adventurous sexcapades of one of the world's most beloved Drag Queens. Yet, several of these stories candidly reveal a tender and altogether inspiring human side of Courtney Act and the man who created her, Shane Jenek. Seeing tears well up in her eyes as she recounts the final text sent to the handsome active duty Marine she met at a valet line in LA or listening to her thoughts on gender fluidity and self-expression before launching into an exhilarating cover of Mika's "Grace Kelly" stand out as enchantingly genuine and wondrously humanizing moments in her performance.
Whether singing a rendition of Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" or blowing the roof off the theater with a delectably heartfelt, 11 o'clock number rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," Courtney Act owns the stage for the entirety of BOYS LIKE ME, proving she is a consummate performer. She entertains and delights with her takes on "I'm Not That Girl" from WICKED and Madonna's "Like a Virgin," among others. I particularly enjoyed her retooling of the lyrics to A CHORUS LINE's "At the Ballet" to become "At the Valet." However, I'm remiss to say much more, as I don't want to ruin the experience of seeing her take the stage live.
If you're looking for an Off-Broadway or cabaret experience that is sure to have you smiling, laughing, and dancing in your seat, then Courtney Act's BOYS LIKE ME is the ticket for you. Take a trip to The Laurie Beechman Theater in the basement of the West Bank Café at 407 West 42nd Street, New York City, New York, 10036 and let the fabulous Coutney Act entertain you.
Running Time: Approximately 1 hour without an intermission.
Courtney Act's BOYS LIKE ME runs at The Laurie Beechman Theatre through August 21, 2014 on select Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $22, with a $15 food/drink minimum. A $40 VIP ticket that includes reserved seating and a meet-and-greet are also available. To purchase tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.SpinCycleNYC.com.