BWW Review: BeDeLaCreme Presents ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS ATTENTION, But All You'll Want Is More DeLa & Jinkx Monsoon
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
Down through entertainment history my lambkins, there have been masters of comedy that when brought together as a team created undeniable sparks that we still see today. There is no qualifying or quantifying that elusive ingredient called chemistry me dears. You've either got it, or you ain't, and boys, girls, thems and theys... BenDeLaCreme & Jinkx Monsoon - they got it, and they PROVED it at Town Hall on Wednesday night. To go on and on in a review that is clearly going to be a rave might seem a futile waste, but all you lovelies reading this should know that as individuals these queens are two of the most sought after, accomplished and gifted performers in the art of drag, but that coming together they create stage dynamite not to be missed. Yes, if you are here with me in NYC there WAS only the one opportunity to see these ladies and unless you have Hermione's time-turner, you missed it. But fret not you denizens of the hinterlands, as they are on tour between now and December 29th and will hit Minneapolis, Austin, Denver, Portland, their home base of Seattle for 6 performances, San Fran and Hollywood. Clearly Bobby loved the show tops to bottoms but here's a lot of the Y Vanna.
Those who are fans know that DeLa and Jinkx are self-described "Seattle Sisters" from way back. Now this sort of sisterhood, however warm, does not always produce onstage chemistry. Friendship is not chemistry. Rapport is not chemistry. Chemistry is chemistry and I hear you ask, "Bobby? What the F are you babbling about? Is your rainbow in a knot or what? Do you have holiday tinsel in the windmills of your addled mind? Are you..." OK ENOUGH! Chemistry, my naughty ones, is not only about 2 players performing with work that compliments each other's style, but it's also about that work sparking off each other like flint and steel and elevating the performance to something akin to a fine symphony. It is as elusive a mixture as polyjuice potion and if you get it even a little wrong, you can wind up looking like Melania on her wedding night... All P and no T (yeah I said it.) So, what is it that has me all over goose flesh about what I saw at the venerable Town Hall on that fateful Wednesday night? Well, when all the elements of great performance, terrific writing & directing (By DeLa & Jinkx themselves), choreo and design get mixed with a CRAPLOAD of rehearsal you can have a show that will amuse and entertain. When your performers are professional, practiced, have real stage presence and bring all their acting, singing, dancing and comic timing gifts to that mix you get something special. But, when that elusive element of chemistry between performers arrives you get things like The Carol Burnett Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, Mary Tyler Moore, Seinfeld, Friends, and Will & Grace. You get epic musical Theatre like Into The Woods, Hairspray, Hamilton, and Hadestown.THIS is the category into which I place ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS ATTENTION. Are the ladies doing a lot of the same ol' drag tropes from the year one? Sure they are. DeLa is the sweet as candy mother hen who wants to have a Holiday extravaganza for the baby Jesus and Jinkx is the tart, no-holds-barred slut monster who wants to get drunk and figure out all the naughty things one can do with candy canes. The simplicity of this premise gives the ladies latitude to play off each other and with the audience by consciously embracing those tropes, openly indicating them and then taking them to blissful comic heights. Where Jinkx likes to take things slow and suggestive, Dela picks up her partner's balls and fast pitches them over the plate. Where Jinkx is naughty with loads of innuendo and out and out dirty jokes, DeLa struggles to keep things sweet and light, at times even battling within herself to not be tempted into her lady friend's gutter. All of this proves that DeLa has written their tight, fast-paced script to take full advantage of everything she and Jinkx have to offer; Song, dance and lots of fab, glittering gowns all flashing by at a break-neck pace. The highJINKX (see what I did there) of these queens on a search to build an "Acceptable" sort of seasonal stage offering takes them down many paths lead in part by DeLa's late, Jesus obsessed Nana - in the form of a possessed, talking cup of rum-laced eggnog - and by Jinkx's libido and anti-season sentiment that all religions are cults and the traditions that people cling to like Confederate flags, racist football team names, and Jimmy Fallon - SUCK! Everything these ladies perform in their act juxtaposes (what? Bobby knows words!) their styles, voices & characters. Jinkx has a singing voice that rivals anyone on The Broadway today and DeLa's fast-paced comic patter style voice perfectly balances her friend's belting. Where DeLa is all sweetness and (crumbling) naivete, Jinkx is all sin, sex, and vodka, "Don't wrap your present boys... I'm On Prep!" Nothing is held back and nothing is not funny (is that a triple-negative?) Wending their way through number after number of songs and dances, with a fine corps de ballet that mixes gender and spices with some for real classical training, the queens attempt to teach each other lessons that will ultimately lead them to putting on the show they separately long for. Multimedia flashes throughout show vids of the queens as little princesses, as well as their laugh-out-loud commercial breaks where they seek a corporate sponsor that is not raping and pillaging the planet. Both are knocking back "stage liquor" throughout but never descend to playing sloppy intoxication, because.. well... snore. Watching the show and marveling at the slick professional performances with that something extra these two ladies generate made Bobby think of folk like Stan & Ollie, Kathy & Mo, Hope & Crosby, and, in fact, with the shows thru line, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS ATTENTION felt like the best of the Road Movies. Dela & Jinkx are the kind of comedy pairing that comes along once in a generation and one hopes that they will continue to mine for gold together. Since this show marks DeLa's first producer credit under BenDeLaCreme Presents we can only hope that their work will expand to include full Broadway productions and - I'll say it - movies and TV. Because, my rainbow tribe, it is time for Drag to graduate (thanks to RuPaul's pioneering) to full acceptance and mainstream entertainment platforms for all to see. If you can't tell already, Bobby gives ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS ATTENTION his full 5 out of 5 rainbows.
* Photos below by AJ Jordan