As a special treat for Midsumma, two of Britain’s fiercest drag queens have come all the way to Melbourne expressly to trash your favourite musicals. One is alt drag star Jonny Woo, the other is Le Gateau Chocolat of La Clique fame. In this delirious celebration of the art of musical theatre, no showtune is safe. Woo and Le Gateau lampoon one famous musical after another, taking the audience on a ride from Kander and Ebb to Disney, via Lloyd Webber and Les Mis.
Strutting before a backdrop of glittering stars, they make a visually arresting duo. Woo is every sequinned inch the glam drag queen of your dreams. Le Gateau Chocolat, with his glorious beard and sonorous baritone voice, somehow even more so. Their takes on the showtunes are part homage, part parody. The pair have the singing chops and stage presence to do justice to the original songs, at the same time as they use sly asides, twists on the lyrics and costume gags to poke fun at them. Between songs they exchange fast paced banter, often affecting a catty rivalry between each other or toying with inappropriate humour. The aesthetic hovers constantly between Broadway and a pub drag night.
While the show’s energy can feel a little scattered at times, both the performers are audacious talents. Le Gateau Chocolat’s operatic singing style is outstanding and in numbers where he showcases his vocal ability, such as in a triumphant rendition of "Let It Go" from Frozen, his performance achieves an exhilirating quality. Woo, while no mean singer, shows his true forte in some next-level lip sync acts. In his home city of London, Woo is well known for presiding over lip syncing competitions. Here he demonstrates his own mastery of the art with set pieces such as a one man Les Miserables, in which he impressively manages to sync to every character in one of that show’s signature crowd songs.
With its combination of glamour and gags, song and silliness, A Night At The Musicals is highly entertaining. Personally, my favourite parts were probably where they went a bit lighter on the lampoonery and played truest to the songs’ original emotional intent. But then, I am a massive musical theatre dag. Whether or not you are too, or if you are more drawn by the prospect of two sassy queens throwing some shade at the whole musical theatre thing, there is plenty to love in this show.
Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Strut & Fret Production House present
A Night at the Musicals
starring Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo
Venue: Fairfax Studio | Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 17 – 22 January 2017
Tickets: $49 – $44.90