BWW Review: With WITCH PERFECT Club Cumming Shows Us Which Witch is Which for Halloween
Heigh Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
So, tis the season my pumpkins; the most festival season of the year; Bobby always says. As autumn takes us in her chilly arms and falling leaves do... something to my windowpane and that whiff of Party City Costumes mingles with fall air and amyl nitrate, the time for cos-play drag shows is upon us, and OHHHH WITCH PLEASE! did we catch a magic brew last night? Your rainbow boy was back in the downtown haunted hood of the lower East Village taking in WITCH PERFECT at the fabulously lower east side ambiance'd Club Cumming. That's right my pets; there's all kinds of Cumming happening in this world but this place is the real deal for it is owned and operated by the one and only stage to screen star, Alan Cumming; who BTW was in attendance for the show and was practically doubled over with laughter throughout as 3 drag-meisters spoofed a spoof by giving their own 3 queen rendition of Disney's HOCUS POCUS.
Now for those not in the know (I mean straight ADULTS), this little comedy occult classic was a result of The Divine Bette Midler's Disney/Touchstone contract from the 80's that gave us Outrageous Fortune, Beaches, Ruthless People and this amusing P-A-R-O-D-Y of wicked witches eat little children fairy tales. HOCUS POCUS borrowed liberally evil potions from the Grimm Brothers oeuvre and the tales of the Salem Witch trials, shook em in a cocktail shaker and sprinkled them all over 3 brilliant comic actresses; Bette, Kathy Najimy & Sarah Jessica Parker and gave us ALL drag-queen-Halloween realness for years to come. And speaking of Cumming, Club Cumming was absolutely PACKED to the eery rafters with queens, kings, and goddesses to see Tina Burner as Winifred (Midler), Tammy Spanx as Mary (Najimy), and Bootsie Lefaris as Sarah (SJP) as they completely filled the Cumming stage with bewitching hilarity and their impressive voices. Make no mistake dearlings, these three Witches have pipes to rival, nay surpass the voices of the original Sanderson Sisters in power and character parody. While the original film did indeed cast 3 singing actresses, the movie is not a musical save for 1 number, the cauldron stirring Halloween opus, I PUT A SPELL ON YOU sung by La Divine. The brilliance of this show is the delicate fine line it obliterates with over-the-top, farce-paced, spot-on call-outs to the original plus familiar musical numbers that let these queens show off those pipes.Now, It is truly difficult to take a piece of Parody like HOCUS, cover it with Satire sprinkle it with Farce and wrap it in a drag Spoof and make it work. It can, and usually does, wind up gilding a lily until it chokes to death and becomes an ultimately boring mixture of upstaging, grandstanding and SCREAMING. These ladies skirt all of that with their performances and comedy that mocks everything including White Christmas, Cats, A Chorus line and Reading Rainbow (could you die) with their amazing additional musical numbers. Aside from looking the parts to a T, Burner has developed Bette's braying delivery and facial twistings, perfectly spouting the words SISTAHHHS and BOOHOOK in perfect mocking of Midler's original and Spanx's dotty Mary lumbers and apologizes for everything in a fab call out to Najimy. But, it is the subtle cynicism of Lafaris that makes fun of the dopey original Sarah by making her the slyest, in-on-the-joke sister, whose timing of asides to us and flippant delivery of lines and responses to her co-stars conjured up many of the laughs. And that VOICE! OMG! This Witch CAN sing with a capitol HOLY F%(K! The range on Lefaris seemed limitless and her ability to work with the audience through skillful improv and continuous calls to the bar for more "potion" made her the witch of the night. This is not to slight her co-stars in any way, both of whom gave roof lifting, rafter-shaking vocal power to their solos that included Spanx's MY WAY and Burner's impressive version of Winifred's I PUT A SPELL ON YOU. All of this music supported by a fantastic "man behind the curtain," Musical Director Blake Allen, who, while he could not see or be seen by his onstage witches, magically kept it all together.
The best fun of the evening though came when the 3 sisters pulled a poor schmo from the audience and forced him to endure simulated magical sex acts intended as part of their incantations. In fact, the show is really at it's best when all 3 ladies are on stage mixing it up by mixing themes from the film with their own brand of Drag-Foolery.
WITCH PERFECT has 2 shows on Halloween night, and if you can actually get tickets, then you've got Alan ... Cumming (see what I did there?). BUT, don't despair my loves, the success of this show means it will be back next year and on any other night of any week, Club Cumming is most certainly one hot destination. Kudos to Cumming for doing the Lord's work keeping East Village realness alive at the perfect dive with real star power.
For it ALL, Bobby gives Club Cumming and Witch Perfect 5 rainbows out of 5.
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