BWW Review: ICONIC - A BRIEF HISTORY OF DRAG at De Parel Spiegeltent, Fringeworld Pleasure Garden

BWW Review: ICONIC - A BRIEF HISTORY OF DRAG at De Parel Spiegeltent, Fringeworld Pleasure Garden
Ian Stroughair is Velma Celli in ICONIC.

Brush up your Bowie, strap on your stilettos and prepare yourself for the glorious vocal stylings of Velma Celli! ICONIC - A BRIEF HISTORY OF DRAG is coming to the intimate and beautiful De Parel Spiegeltent in the Fringe World Pleasure Garden for ten nights only!

Velma Celli has come to Fringe World hot off sell-out tours in the UK, and it isn't hard to see why she's been getting five-star reviews wherever she goes! A powerhouse musical theatre performer who has starred in numerous shows on the West End, Ian Stroughair's drag alter-ago is equal parts charm, cheek, and character. Covering everything from raunchy rock songs to soaring ballads, the band and backing vocalists flawlessly supported a varied set list showcasing a variety of musical theatre and pop songs.

I was delighted to see drag standards from La Cage aux Folles and Hedwig and the Angry Inch being presented along with lesser known musicals such as Boy George's Taboo. Other highlights included a touching Bowie sing-a-long and a tongue in cheek version of "Roxie" from Chicago. A pop diva medley also sees Velma take on a string of hilarious and spot on vocal impressions ranging from Britney to Cher.

That being said, song isn't the only way that Velma guides the audience through her history of drag. Beneath the veneer of makeup and body glitter, drag is a genre replete with fascinating historical titbits and Velma's patter sections were both charming and heartfelt, with an eclectic mix of stories and quotes ranging from the world of West End musicals to Stonewall, as well as a brief fixation on shoes. This is hardly surprising when you consider the gorgeous bedazzled stilettos she wore - capping off an outfit which was glamorous and delightfully sparkly as well as adorable and Perth-summer appropriate (a rhinestone encrusted tutu? Yes please!) all set off by a pop of funky fluorescent colour in her hair and makeup.

Arguably Stroughair's greatest strength as a performer is in the remarkably subtle acting skills and powerhouse vocals he brings to the stage. With her eyeliner (sharp enough to kill a man), self-deprecating wit, and just a sprinkling of naughtiness, it's no wonder that Velma has been charming audiences so thoroughly. The audience moved easily between laughter and thoughtfulness, and although it took a song or two to get the ball truly rolling, by the time the show was closing out I found myself wishing that we were heading into an intermission so I could come back for a second act of story and song from this talented performer. The rest of the audience seemed to agree with me, demanding an encore by standing ovation.

Endearing, entertaining, and heck, even educational!

ICONIC - A BRIEF HISTORY OF DRAG runs until February 25th at the De Parel Spiegeltent, Fringeworld Pleasure Garden. For more information and to buy tickets see

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From This Author Ellin Sears

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