Ruview Roundup: The Queens of RuPaul's Drag Race Reflect on Their Lives in the Theatre and Broadway Dreams

We check in with Broadway babies Jinkx Monsoon, Nina West, Rosé, Alaska and more.

By: Jan. 06, 2023

Tonight, January 6, fans of RuPaul's Drag Race will be formally introduced to a whole new batch of queens when Season 15 pemieres on MTV. 16 new queens will make herstory as a pat of the show's biggest season to date, and (good news for Broadway fans), more than a few of them have already ruvealed their theatre roots.

They join a legacy of RuGirls who have gone on to gone on to perform on theatrical stages big and small. BroadwayWorld has spoken to many of them, and you can check out highlights from their conversations below!

Jinkx Monsoon

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 5/All Stars Season 7
upcoming 'Mama Morton' in Chicago on Broadway

"I always wanted to be onstage for my entire life. From my kindergarten play on, I always knew I wanted to be a performer... When I found drag, I was like, 'Oh, that's the way I am meant to be performing!' Now when I look back in retrospect, the reason that drag appealed to me so much is that I was already acting and dancing and singing, but because I was assigned male at birth... I didn't fit many male roles, but we weren't at a place that we were doing gender-blind casting. Drag allowed me to create work for myself that fit who I was. We're seeing more representation in mainstream entertainment now, but for me to be able to be a trans, femme, non-binary person, performing the roles that I think I'm best at- I had to create them for myself.

"Bette Midler has been a huge influence from a very early age. Bernadette Peters as The Witch in Into the Woods really changed my life. The show Sweeney Todd is my favorite show of all time and my dream role is Mrs. Lovett. When Hairspray came into existence, I think I started to see where drag and theatre could coalesce. I saw the beginning where we are getting to today. My favorite role that I've played to date was Velma Von Tussle in the anniversary performance of Hairspray being developed in Seattle. I got to do that right after Drag Race and that was my dream come true! I was in drag, but in a play, doing musical performance the way that I felt like I was always meant to."

June 25, 2021
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Nina West

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11
'Edna' in Hairspray National Tour

"I remember going to see Cats at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. My dad took me and my sisters. I was transformed. I don't know if it was the costumes or the music or the largeness of it all... It felt like another world. Those cats lived in that theatre and I believed it. That really opened it up for me.

"Then performing in the choir in my church took it to a different level. I remember being a wise man in the Nativity. I was the fiercest wise man ever! [Laughs] It impacted everything I did. It wasn't that I knew that I was queer, but I did know that I was different. Something about it made me feel whole. And made be feel like I was going to be OK... That feeling never ceased. Every time that I need to be reminded of that safety net I would somehow find a show. Then I did community theatre. Then I majored in theatre in college. In college I would work in the costume shop in our theatre department as a part of my work study, and any money I had leftover we would get on a bus and go to New York City to see a show. Whatever we could do to be surrounded by theatre, we did.

"I still dream of being on Broadway and hopefully one day that will happen. Until then I'm gonna keep making sure that my fingers are in as many pies as they can be. I want to get my skills ready for it and keep in touch with that part of myself. I'm just hoping for a revival of Hairspray. Can you imagine? Make it happen, Jerry Mitchell!"

November 24, 2020
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Alaska Thunderfuck

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 5/ All Stars Season 2
creator of Drag: The Musical

"I am an extremely gay person, but wildly, I was never really into musicals. Early in my drag career and in my coming-of-age I was just like, "I don't get it..." When I discovered musicals like Hair and Godspell and Hedwig, where it's kinda like through the back door musical theatre, then I got it. Now I love all musicals. I mean, give me Hello, Dolly! any day. It took me a while though. I needed that entry point of finding music that really connected to me."

May 13, 2022
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RuPaul's Darg Race Season 13
upcoming 'Victor Garber' in Titanique off-Broadway

"[Wichita State University] had a really fantastic opera program, which was actually what I initially wanted to study. And their musical theatre department was also great. And they also had this whole school of modern dance and mime. So I was able to dip my toe into several different pools. I think that's when I realized that I really loved the theatre. I really found my way in college and by the end I was a little Broadway machine. [I starred in] Lippa's The Wild Party, Carnival, She Loves Me. I was in a production of Altar Boyz that Billy Porter directed right before Kinky Boots!

"When I was in college I would come to New York every spring break. The year that Next to Normal opened I came and saw it two or three times that week. I fell in love with Alice Ripley. She got me good. I think it's one thing to be really talented, but I've always loved and related to women who are fabulous, but imperfect. Like Barbra Streisand became so famous because of her imperfections. I also love Elaine Stritch. Her documentary, Shoot Me, I've probably seen 40 times.

"Before Broadway shut down I was going to see shows all the time because I have so many friends who are very active in the Broadway community. And to be honest- theatre people really come out to see drag shows. I still keep in touch which so many people who I used to work with when I was younger.

"I did not leave theatre behind! I would absolutely love to return to theatre and especially on Broadway! I have dream roles that drag informs at the age I am now. I would love to play Hedwig, Frankenfurter, Berger in Hair but as an undercover drag queen! My Broadway candle was not extinguished."

March 5, 2021
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Brooke Lynn Hytes

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11
Canada's Drag Race

"I actually went to school for musical theatre for a year! Then we all realized that I couldn't actually sing [Laughs], so I transferred into dance. Ballet and dance has informed my drag so much. It got me to where I am. I owe so much to everything I learned in dance- discipline, being professional, being a team player, being punctual. All of those little things have really helped me in my drag career, as well as the obvious skills of being a professional dancer, which have helped in the performance aspect of my drag. I really owe everything to the arts.

"[Broadway] is my dream! And honestly, I think if I actually took the time to take voice lessons and do it all properly, I could learn to carry a tune. I've learned in my life to never say never. You never know what opportunities are going to come your way."

June 17, 2022
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RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12/All Stars Season 6

"The year after I quit soccer. I think in a calendar year I did like eleven musicals. I was in rehearsals for shows while doing shows and it was a huge cyclical thing. I met some friends who were a year above me and they were talking about how they were auditioning for musical theatre schools. Then my friends told me that musical theatre was an actual degree and I was like, 'Ok, well this changes everything!' There was nothing in my life that I was passionate about in academia, and I was good at theatre, so I was like, 'Why not audition for some theatre schools next year?' That's when I realized that I need to be onstage and make this a career. I went to Boston Conservatory in the Fall of 2011. It was an awesome experience. It was so intense, but I met some amazing people and I had some incredible teachers. It set up the foundation to where I am now.

"I put on a random season of KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS and I stumbled upon an episode called "All That Jazz." It's all about Kris trying to get into the Broadway cast of Chicago. I thought it was so funny and I knew I had to do something with this.... but I wasn't sure what it was. I now refer to that as a mix, which is something we do all the time as drag performers. It's basically a two and half minute monologue talking about Kris Jenner trying to get on Broadway. The last thing that she says is: "If being on Broadway is my dream, then it's my dream!" So my theatre brain of course goes to "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Mis. So I kind of melded my two passions together. At the time though, I didn't even realize it was drag. I was using my theatre background and my love for pop culture and Broadway and fusing them together.

"When it comes to drag, New York City is such an epicenter. It's so amazing to watch performers, many of whom have theatre degrees, and to see how they infuse their theatrical training with their drag personas. You learn new things along the way. It awesome too because a lot of the people who are on Broadway love drag queens and they come out to our shows and support us. Then in turn, we can go and see their shows on Broadway and it's so inspiring. I get to see these shows and fall in love with the art form all over again. Even though I'm not doing traditional theatre, I'm still doing my own kind of theatre."

April 3, 2020
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RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6/All Stars Season 3

"While I as a queer person had the obligatory love of musicals, I feel like I more specifically had access to it through film and television. When the film version of Little Shop of Horrors came out, that was something that really blew my mind. Audrey was this incredible female archetype, who had this surface level of camp, but she runs so deep. Despite the fact that she never leaves that camp world, you are always drawn in to really loving her and going on that journey. Something about that type of storytelling really drew me in."

-June 25, 2021
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Tina Burner

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 13

"I used to do summer theatre when I was growing up. When it really clicked was when we moved to Secaucus. I lived in upstate New York and was like, "How am I ever gonna get out of here?" So I left three days before my Junior year of high school. I remember going to an audition at the Greenwich Street Theatre for a production of Big River and I got cast as Tom Sawyer. I remember being like, 'Well this is it!' My whole school rented out the theatre to see me.

"I'm such a theatre geek. Even living here in New York, when theatre is open, the weekly routine is going to TKTS to see a show. Me and my friends would see shows every night of the week. I saw Frozen like six times! I'm obsessed. I remember one time when my mom came to visit, we won the lottery for Gypsy and we saw Patti LuPone at front row, center. That was such a wonderful, gay moment.

"I feel like [Broadway] it's where I belong. As a kid the plan was always to go to New York and be on Broadway. I remember being on what must have been like an eighth callback for Rent and like my sixth callback for Footloose when I went and signed with the band. It was a really pivotal moment. I truly believe that if I had stayed, that's where my life would have gone."

-March 5, 2021
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Jackie Cox

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12

"I went to UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television for Theatre for my undergrad. Then I moved to New York with the goal of maybe doing theatre professionally. I think what I learned in New York was that, as many working entertainers know, it's a very tough road and it can be kinda soul-crushing. Some of my friends would be like, "Should I take this terrible job because it's going to help me get my Equity Card?" I knew that I loved doing theatre so much, and I would have hated to sacrifice my own love of the art form by doing stuff that I didn't believe in... just to say that I was still doing theatre.

"I did a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch in Orange County California, which was kind of my first foray into drag, but I never really realized that you could be your own director, producer, and costume designer. That was very appealing to me because it was so much fun and gave me creative control. It was such an amazing outlet for all of these ideas that were always buzzing in my head.

"I'm excited to see how I can participate moving forward, using this platform to support the Broadway community. I want to find ways to help support this community specifically since I already feel like I am a part of it."

April 3, 2020
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Olivia Lux

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 13

"I think theatre is such an expressive, creative outlet. I think that, along with drag, it's one of the ultimate forms of storytelling. My parents and my whole family- my mother, grandmother, and my two aunts- have always been so supportive of all of my creative endeavors. They really helped cultivate that in me. I like to think that they are the amalgamation of Olivia.

"I think I realized that I needed to be on a stage for the rest of my life when I was in high school. I felt like all of the odds were against me- I was odd, had no self-confidence, I was 300 pounds. But on that stage, being able to pretend and make people laugh... I was living my fantasy. I went home and told my mom that I wanted to do theatre in college and she said, 'Are you sure?!' And I never looked back from there. [I starred in] The Apple Tree, Beauty and the Beast- I was the Beast! I was Angel in Rent a few times. In college I was Donkey in a touring production of Shrek. My past characters have definitely been outlandish!

"I would love to be able to perform on stages around the world, but ultimately I would love to end up on the theatre stage too! That could be a great moment."

-March 5, 2021
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Brita Filter

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 12

"As I got into high school, I started performing in regional children's theatre-type productions. It was actually me, Jordin Sparks, Emma Stone and Max Crumm. We all did theatre together as children! They all went off to do reality TV, so I was like, "Ok, Drag Race is my chance! I'm gonna be on reality TV too!" But yeah, we started together at a place called Valley Youth Theatre. They would rent the original Broadway tour sets and it was a bunch of under-18-year-olds performing.

"Musical theatre was really my niche. Probably in high school I realized that this was what I had to do. I ended up getting a music scholarship at Scottsdale Community College, but was also taking voice lessons at Arizona State University, and also performing in Equity shows. At that point I dropped out of school to do my thing. I was performing non-stop. Then, there came a time when I was like, "She needs to go to school! She needs to know what she's doing!" So I took a break from the regional stuff and I went to AMDA in New York. I studied there for two years, then went back into the regional circuit. I did Rent a bunch, South Pacific so much... I did South Pacific so much that I became the token Pacific Islander in our community. I was like, "If I have to do this show one more time...!"

"I am obsessed with Patti LuPone. I was supposed to see her last weekend in Company, but obviously that didn't happen. Patti is my diva of all divas. And Cynthia Erivo. She gives it to me all the time. Jennifer Hudson! Truly, any woman of color who can sing her face off is my inspiration. But Patti is my girl!"

April 17, 2020
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Kameron Michaels

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10
RuPaul's Drag Race: Vegas Revue

"The goal of Drag Race Live was to bring the television show to the stage. Think what they did with Legally Blonde or Beetlejuice... they've taken the movie and made it into a live musical. That's what we did with Drag Race. We took an episode, looked at each segment and turned it into a stage performance.

"I grew up in a very small, conservative town in southern Tennessee. I think I probably would have done more theatre if I had grown up in a more progressive city. So this is the first time that I really got to do theatre-type performing. As a drag queen, I lip-sync and perform in my own way, but this is probably the closest I've gotten to theatre."

-August 21, 2020
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The 15th season of RuPaul's Drag Race airs Fridays at 8pm on MTV.

The 16 queens will compete for the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar" and a cash prize of $200,000 - the highest in herstory of the main franchise - served by Cash App. Previously announced queens include Amethyst (West Hartford, CT), Anetra (Las Vegas, NV), Aura Mayari(Nashville, TN), Irene Dubois (Seattle, WA), Jax (Queens, NY), Loosey LaDuca (Ansonia, CT), Luxx Noir London (East Orange, NJ), Malaysia Babydoll Foxx (Miami, FL), Marcia Marcia Marcia (New York, NY), Mistress Isabelle Brooks (Houston, TX), Princess Poppy (San Francisco, CA), Robin Fierce (Hartford, CT), Salina EsTitties (Los Angeles, CA), Sasha Colby (Los Angeles, CA), Sugar (Los Angeles, CA), and Spice (Los Angeles, CA).


Video: DRAG RACE Parodies FOOTLOOSE With Season 15 Rusical WIGLOOSE Photo
Video: DRAG RACE Parodies FOOTLOOSE With Season 15 Rusical WIGLOOSE

The remaining contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race season 15 parodied Footloose in the season 15 Rusical, Wigloose, during the most recent episode of the hit MTV series. Watch a video of Anetra, Loosey LaDuca, Luxx Noir London, Mistress Isabelle Brooks, Salina EsTitties, and Sasha Colby taking on the Rusical now!

Video: First Look at DRAG RACE Taking on WIGLOOSE! as Season 15 Rusical Photo
Video: First Look at DRAG RACE Taking on WIGLOOSE! as Season 15 Rusical

The remaining contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race season 15 are competing in the annual Rusical! This season, the Rusical is titled 'Wigloose,' a takeoff on the classic musical Footloose. Watch a sneak peek video of Anetra, Loosey LaDuca, Luxx Noir London, Mistress Isabelle Brooks, Salina EsTitties, and Sasha Colby preparing for the challenge!

Interview: How Marciax3 Brought Her Theatrical Talents to Drag Race Photo
Interview: How Marciax3 Brought Her Theatrical Talents to Drag Race

Many queens wrap up their experience on RuPaul's Drag Race with big dreams of what comes next. For some, that dream is Broadway (see Jinkx Monsoon slaying as Mama Morton in Chicago). Marcia Marcia Marcia has already been there done that... but really. As the resident Broadway baby of Season 15, Marcia let their theatrical talents shine throughout their time on the show, which sadly concluded last week.

Interview: Blair St. Clair Is Going Back to Their Musical Theatre Roots Photo
Interview: Blair St. Clair Is Going Back to Their Musical Theatre Roots

On February 2 and 3, The Green Room 42 will present the nightclub debut of Blair St. Clair, the drag star, recording artists and vocalist, in 'Legally Blair,' a new show about their life, liberty, and the pursuit of dreaming wide awake. Blair recently checked in with BroadwayWorld to chat all about the new show!



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