Created and Performed by Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales
Off Broadway, Cabaret
Runs through 6.28.15
The Laurie Beechman Theater, 407 West 42nd Street
by Keith Paul Medelis on 5.31.15
Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales in The Vaudevillians: Bringing Up Baby. Photo by Hunter Canning.
BOTTOM LINE: How could you not love a talented drag queen playing a drunken, pregnant, formerly cryogenically frozen, vaudeville star singing all of today's hits?
I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that this review is what I may have been working for since joining the Theasy.com staff a year ago. As a consummate fan of the TV competition "RuPaul's Drag Race" and particular favorite of Jinkx Monsoon (Season 5 winner), this offer does not disappoint. And it’s with no shame that I admit to a backstage selfie with the queen herself after this evening’s performance.
And you shouldn’t be ashamed either. Jinkx Monsoon is a truly masterful guilty pleasure you should definitely seek out. And we could read to filth all the other queens that have come through Ru’s doors to say that Jinkx is one of the best. Originating from our own humble theatrical world and now traveling the globe with her sequel to the extended hit The Vaudevillians in 2013 at The Laurie Beechman, Monsoon knows how to put on a show.
Thanks to a “drug-induced freak accident,” Kitty Witless (played by Jinkx, played by Jerick Hoffer) and “the Doctor” (played by Major Scales, played by Richard Andriessen) are cryogenically frozen in the 1920s after a prolific singing/songwriting career. They were so successful, in fact, that most of their songs were stolen by all of today’s most poppy of pop artists -- Azealia Banks and Madonna to name a few. Now they’re back in New York City -- “the wonderland of the fiscally irresponsible” -- to sing them in their original, vaudevillian style. We welcome them to the new world with open arms and open legs.
Where Jinkx truly shines are her far too infrequent visits to the audience with improvisations that on this night featured Grindr-laden antics, lipstick smudged glasses, and the excited visit of a child younger than five who was, obviously, sipping a glass of milk next to some rambunctious wine drinkers. There’s some confident genius at work here and you can’t help but want more. It’s the appeal of all drag entertainment: no boundaries, ferocious beauty, and sexual innuendo for days.
This Vaudevillians cycle follows much the same format as the previous one: a piano playing accompanist backs Jinkx up on a series of contemporary songs with her flair, comedic antics and, of course, a fabulous costume change. What’s different here is that this Kitty Witless is pregnant and perhaps not with the Doctor’s baby -- we’re never quite certain. And sadly it’s a gimmick that doesn’t quite sustain a whole evening. There’s some more effective song choices in part one as well that are pulled off a little more cleanly than they are here.
Should you see it? Yep. Just start with the original. Which is playing is rep with this one. All “T,” no shade.
(And I love you, Jinkx!)
(The Vaudevillians: Bringing Up Baby plays at The Laurie Beechman Theater, 407 West 42nd Street, through June 28, 2015. Check westbankcafe.com for updated performance dates and times. Tickets are $25-$50, with a $20 food and drink minimum, and are available at spincyclenyc.com or by calling 212.352.3101.)