BWW Review: THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE HELL'S KITCHENETTES Serves Up A Disney Tour Full of Color w/a Hot Cup of Coffee at the Laurie Beechman
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
Well darlings, this week's trip to the Laurie Beechman yielded a sweet surprise in the guise of 3 boys dressed as 3 ladies of the lunch counter. THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE HELL'S KITCHENETTES at the Laurie Beechman was a colorful world of Disney magic that was delivered with talented vocals, outlandish but gifted acting, and precision choreo, all in high heels, high wigs, and cat eyeglasses. Now, THE HELL'S KITCHENETTES is a draggle of 3 waitresses working the Loose Caboose Diner but dreaming large of taking their tight Andrews Sisters 3-part harmony on to bigger and brighter vistas in the hopes of stardom and a few contest cash prizes. As the show opens, we learn that Bette Griddler, Mabel Syrup and Pam Cakes have recently had a great showing in a national song competition in Nashville, and now want to take their show on the road with an around-the-world tribute to ... wait for it... Lawrence Welk (could you die?) The group's leader, Bette, has many draginations about how they should capitalize on their Nashville momentum, but these get set aside when it is decided they should change course and head to the World's Fair in Queens, NY (where else?) and they should tailor their song list to catch the ear of Mr. Mouse himself, Walt Disney.
"But wait, Bobby!" I hear you say... "Wait! This sounds like a story with plot and characters and maybe even popcorn... Not a drag show! What is going on?" Well, my dearlings, you are not wrong on that front. THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE HELL'S KITCHENETTES is indeed a musical play with actors playing songstresses who want to be stars. There is a story, there is a plot, and a theme of "dreams really do come true" but in a way that won't make you hurl, because... well... DRAG QUEENS! Three triple threats of acting, singing and dancing ADORABLE boys named MICHAEL LAMASA (pushy Bette Griddler, as well as the show's author,) Darius Rose (heart of gold slut Mabel Syrup,) and James Mills (impossibly ditsy Pam Cakes) are the men behind the women of The Kitchenettes. These gifted queens present a real musical comedy consisting of tunes from the Disney songbook dating from Mickey's beginnings up to the 1960s (with 2 notable post-Uncle Walt exceptions) a real book, fine direction, vocal orchestrations tailored to their retro big band bee-bop sound, dance moves and a multi-media screen showing campily fascinating filler films from days gone by to cover set and costume changes. Basically, this is a musical that is written, designed, directed, acted and choreographed to within an inch of its life. All of this makes the simple, silly story materialize, filled with energy, campy corny drag jokes, and innuendo that delighted Wednesday's audience to no end.
It turns out that there are 3 installments (so far) of the adventures of THE HELL'S KITCHENETTES; Wonderful World is, in fact, a sequel story to the original, HELL'S KITCHENETTES, which covers the aforementioned triumphant trip to Nashville. Their holiday romp is HELL'S KITCHENETTES: CHRISTMAS AT THE LOOSE CABOOSE. The creativity behind their drag packages is what puts The Kitchenettes over. One would almost wish for the ladies to have original songs written just for them a-la Pump Boys & Dinettes, but the fine work of David Caldwell (Orchestrator/Musical Director) shows off these queens' singing chops perfectly, and make no mistake, these queens are SINGERS with a capital everything. Their voices blend perfectly in their many trio numbers and they all get nice solos throughout to show off their individual voices.The show was completely enjoyable and, sequel though it is to the "Original," completely follow-able. You do not HAVE to see the shows in order to laugh out loud and get what's going on story-wise. I was left wondering a bit about timeframe and place, as the nostalgic "Pump Boys" look and feel of the show made me think we were down south perhaps, but no, the Loose Caboose is in good ol' NYC and, despite that retro look of sets and costumes, we are in the present day, just enjoying lots of pastiche with kitsch sauce. The biggest ladle of that sauce is in the Disney musical score that stays with music from Walt's lifetime, diverging only twice to Menken's BE OUR GUEST and Shaiman's THE PLACE WHERE LOST THINGS GO.
The Ladies have upcoming shows that are not to be missed dear ones!
The Wonderful World of the Hell's Kitchenettes | Tuesday, November 19th
Christmas at the Loose Caboose | Thursday, December 5th
Christmas at the Loose Caboose | Thursday, December 12th
All at the fab Laurie Beecham Theatre below the West Bank Cafe just off the corner of 9th Ave & 42nd at, 407 W 42nd Street.
It cannot be said too strongly my darlings, this drag show is no drag because this is a tight-knit unit of 3 professionals who have real chemistry with each other who have slavishly rehearsed and put on a show to delight all. There is something for everyone here and, because THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF THE HELL'S KITCHENETTES elevates the art of DRAG we give this show 5 out of 5 rainbows.
All Photos by Helane Blumfield of HelaneBlumfield.com