BWW Review: LEOLA: HOORAY FOR LADY LAND! (Gay History for Straight People!) - Sets Us All “Straight” at The Green Room 42
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
So my lambkins, Bobby took himself down to that darling bistro cabaret The Green Room 42 (hereafter GR42 - I don't think they'll mind) to catch the act of a fellow rainbow aficionado named Leola Ladyland. Who is this Leola who worships Jesus' baby sister Kelly Clarkson and spends much of her act actually talking about her "lady land"? Well, dear ones this sequinned and rainbow clad shermonizer (she likes to mash up show with sermon) is billed as, "... a simple senior citizen, redneck lesbian legend, on a mission to heal this country one audience at a time."
Installed for an entire year's residency at GR42 (I like it more and more) Leola has been bringing her brand of observational humor mixed with hilarious malapropisms and some real-life lessons throughout 2019. This installment of her show called HOORAY FOR LADY LAND! (Gay History for Straight People!) begins with her credo that Gay Pride should not just be a month, it should be a state of mind. Leola then launches into breaking down gayness; its history and its terms taking a guided tour through the alphabet from Anal Beads to Unicorns and hence the magic that gay people bring to the world. Our lady of the sparkling rainbows handed out cookies (home-baked at the 99 cent store), along with stories about her life with her Ex-Husband-Best-Friend Gus in Waycross Georgia, and passed along bon mots about the gay experience from a senior citizen's point of view. It seems Ms. Ladyland did not have her gay epiphany until well after retirement age. As she says, "I came out late in my life and I'm just gettin' to know my own Lady Land." Talking about her coming out to her then-husband with whom she shared a doublewide - I am informed that is something called a mobile home, but darlings this reporter will dig no deeper there - Leola kicked down the door of her oppressive bible belt closet and decided to bring her messages of love and acceptance to the nation. And love an acceptance filled the room as Leola's audience was in stitches, and when we weren't laughing and spit taking into our cosmos we were cheering and applauding as we actually picked up some hysterical, historical facts along the way.
Now truth to tell my loves, Leola is the drag creation of writer, actor, comic Will Nolan who is apparently a gay husband and gay father living in the gay burbs of New Jersey, but we just nodded off a bit as we typed that, so let's get back to Leola.
Taking her cue from the overpopulated LGBTQ++++ acronym of the community, Leola decides to walk through the alphabet giving her New York audience deeper meanings of gayness with each letter, such as D is For Dorothy because Friends Of Dorothy, H is for Ham because... well, ham. When she reaches P for Pink triangle, through the barrage of witticisms and laugh lines we actually pick up some for reals gay history that touched us all on a level a little deeper than our funny bones.
Make no mistake, this is a comedy show, but through Nolan's artistry as a writer and performer, Leola rises to a somewhat higher level. Leola talks to her audience, imparts her cornpone punch lines, and has fun in the moments when she needs a volunteer or chides a woman for giggling during the B is for Bisexual segment of the shermon, but then does a fast, soft turn to the left and tells us something meaningful about our collective struggle for recognition. Is it theatre? Could be. Is it Stand up Comedy? Well Partially. Is it a Solo/Monologue performance piece? Yeah Somewhat, but for this writer, it had a feeling of watching a finely tuned humorist with her finger on the pulse of right now today now today now and her tongue planted permanently in her cheek.
Leola has 2 more performances left in her year-long residency at GR42 and we plan on being there for:
MAKE LADY LAND GREAT AGAIN!
A Town Hall Event with Leola! - Thursday, Oct 24
CHRISTMAS IN LADY LAND!
Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus & Kelly Clarkson! - Thursday, Dec 05
The entire show is conceived written and performed by Will Nolan and produced by Susan Griffin of Wayward Creatives Entertainment. You can keep up with Leola through her website Here. And her Insta @leolasladyland
As Leola herself proclaimed she is indeed "on a mission to heal this country one audience at a time," and in this mission, she completely succeeds.
We give this show 4½ Rainbows Out Of 5.
* Photo By Ron Glow