BWW Review: Are You Bored? Well So Is Varla Jean As She Brings Her VARLA JEAN MERMAN: A STAR IS BORED To Joe's Pub
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
Legends come and legends go my pets, but DRAG will never die. And speaking of Legends that seem to never die... ever, Varla Jean Merman. Bringing her laugh-out-loud comedy songstress, high kicking antics to the stage at Joe's Pub last Friday, the statuesque Queen Of The Quips laid them in the aisles with her latest song parodies and comedic views on what it's like to be in a dress and to stand out in an ever-widening field of Drivers From The Drag Race and Socio-Media crap factory products. This 30-year veteran of the biz has refined her act since the Jurassic Age and is one of the most solid, professional entertainers working today. Jeffrey Roberson, the alter to Varla's EGO is a multi-talented actor/actress, performer, writer, filmmaker, singer ... oh, just all the things and has honed the craft of drag and elevated the art form as much as any man in heels ever has. Using hilarious video footage to cover her massive costume changes, but conducting most of her wig changes on stage with the aid of her handmaid Brian (Johnston her much put upon companion and comic dogsbody,) performing at a clip that would bring a mere Drag Princess to her knees, and signing song parodies that skewer their originals Varla lifts her audience up and then drops them on their heads and makes them love her for it.
Surprisingly, the lady was not nearly as graphically bawdy as many of her contemporaries. Oh, there's innuendo and winks at naughtiness a-plenty, but there's no profanity and she lets the audience go the final steps into their own dirty minds without pushing them too much. For this rainbow reviewer, that's the mark of a true Pro. Varla talks to the audience about how her "Legendary" status does not save her from the InstaTrolls, TwitterTwatters, and other reviewers that call her performances "exhausting". Flashing slides on Joe's screen of many of her more hilarious Socio-Media comments from troll city, the Queen holds forth on all the more difficult points of having to now make an effort in order to be seen and heard in the business of show, decrying aging, and new media, and more competition for shoes in her size. Finally, Varla Jean Merman puts on a perfect drag show with hilarious jokes, stories, and songs all beautifully accompanied by her hot Hot HAWT Music Director, Gerald Goode.
Musical highlights for the show: finding a poor schmuck (named Gary) in the audience to torment throughout the performance, handing him her gum during her Disney parody song; WHEN YOU WISH YOU WERE A STAR and pelting him in the face with Silly String at the end of her puppet number A SPIDER LIFE. Singing touchingly to handmaid Brian YOU DON'T HAND OUT FLYERS ANYMORE and her Madonna-esque paene to all the little people who want to touch her causing her to live in A BACTERIAL WORLD complete with spray cans of Lysol to fog the stage had the room doubled over all night. Her finale of RING DEM BELLS alone made the show worth the ticket price. In short dear reader darlings, Varla may joke that her refusal to be retired from a field that's getting younger and younger is what has made her a "Legend," but Bobby can assure you that her creativity and dedication to her own artistry and the art of drag qualify her for that appellation (WHAT?!? Bobby know's words!) and for her show and her LEGENDARY status, we give her 5 out of 5 rainbows.
* All Photos By Yours Truly, Bobby Patrick