Review: THE DIVAS BALL at Vincent Victoria Presents

An army of divas teach us what it takes to rise up to their heights!

By: Mar. 18, 2024
Review: THE DIVAS BALL at Vincent Victoria Presents
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Vincent Victoria has teamed up with Taylor Getwood to bring Houston THE DIVAS BALL, an imaginary event where the divas (and divos) of the past instruct the divas of the future on how to make it as a star. It’s a fantasy where several historical black figures re-emerge for a few minutes and offer up wisdom aimed at our generations who may not have noted their presence. For Victor Victoria Presents, it’s a perfect excuse to strike a pose and recall some of my favorite performances from his shows over the years. It’s fun, a bit quirky, and has a Fellini-sized cast that should make your head spin in all the right ways. Apparently, it takes an army to make a diva, but then again, is that a surprise? I have been obsessed lately with the idea of how the past influences the future, and THE DIVAS BALL has at least some answers for you in that category. 

At the show's start, we see four aspiring divas who suddenly find themselves displaced in time and space. They have arrived at what their host calls “Diva University” and are promised they are about to be schooled in what it means and what it takes to be a diva. Ember Skeyez is an aspiring rapper, Takisha Bendy is an activist, Venise Watson is a “Vivacious Protege,” and  Demetrus Singleton is the “Boy version of Beyonce.” Shelley Rose is their gracious host and mentor for stardom at this school. All four of these actors keep the show grounded in as much reality as they can muster. They are a cute group that we like instinctively. 

But you are here for divas, aren’t you? There are so many that I could easily get a cramp typing out the list, and it would ruin some of the fun of who shows up and who doesn’t. Vincent Victoria’s company is usually about the unexpected figures of the past who influence our future. Just to name a few: Madame CJ Walker (Jacqueline Harrison), David Ruffin (Terrence Williams), Billie Holiday (Angela Moten), Reverend James Cleveland (Jefferey Womack), Nina Simone (mi'Chelle Marion), Jimi Hendrix (Silvanus Latoison), and many more! 

I particularly loved seeing Pasha Angelle reprise her role as Eartha Kitt. As one audience member put it, “She DID THAT!” and it was one of the night's high points. Bryce Ivan’s colorful Little Richard was also a huge hit, as was Jasmin Roland’s impeccable Josephine Baker. Wykesha King stopped the entire show with a heart-wrenching version of “Strange Fruit” while she was channeling Odetta Holmes (often known simply as Odetta, one of our first one-name divas!). And Todd Greenfield injected some funny-as-all-heck white divas into the mix, who really seemed like strangers in a very strange land. The cast was great, and I wish I could single out each diva, but just know you are in for a whole lot of talent on the stage. Maybe too much in some regards, but it’s wild to see this many people rally around a production. 

Vincent Victoria and Taylor Getwood wrote and directed this spectacle, and it certainly fits right in with Vincent’s previous solo works. The pace is fast, and the staging is very fluid. There’s not a ton of set, and most of the places are established with digital backgrounds. Daniel Brown gets the near-impossible task of clothing a whole stage of legends, and he manages to pump out their signature looks pretty dang well. The show is funny, loud, and moving all at once. It’s worth a ticket to get into this diva’s ball. I think these figures have a lot to teach all of us, whether we are “female hustlers” or not. But the most impressive feat here? Vincent Victoria and Taylor Getwood showcase some of Houston’s most talented black performers that we all probably SHOULD know. There are some divas in here worthy of the title, and the two directors surely know that.   

THE DIVAS BALL opened at the MATCH facility but runs at the MIDTOWN ART CENTER through March 24th. That is at 3414 La Branch, adjacent to Houston Community College. The show runs one hour and forty-five minutes, but it does have a fifteen-minute intermission, which brings it up to two hours. The Midtown Art Center is a wonderfully intimate space in a historical building. There is a small parking lot behind and plenty of street parking around the facility.