With appropriate swagger and in outrageously high heels, Bob the Drag Queen (Christopher Caldwell), winner of Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, opened Murray & Peter Present’s production of Season 8: The Queens. Love Across America on Tuesday, Jan. 17th, at The Carolina Theatre of Durham. The laughs began the moment that his foot stepped onstage and did not stop until the audience filed out the theater’s doors. It was a rollicking night of good fun, off-color jokes, and amazing costumes that produced ear-to-ear smiles on the faces of audience members from 8 to 80.
This tour brings the reality show’s contestants to venues across the country. True fans of (RuPaul’s Drag Race, the reality-show competition hosted by entertainer RuPaul, follow the winners long after the show is over, thus the chance to see the contestants live is a one-time occurrence since most of them will continue their individual careers once their contract is complete. Those fans get the inside jokes, the references to episodes of the show, the underlying jabs at other contestants, and the song/dance choices that the Queens make. They laugh the loudest, though you didn’t need to get the inside jokes to find the Queens hilariously entertaining.
On the Emmy Award-winning television show that airs internationally on Logo TV, contestants are offered weekly challenges that are judged by a group of celebrity judges, headed by RuPaul. Throughout the competition, contestants are eliminated until a winner is chosen.
Season 8’s judges included Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews, and Carson Kressley, as well as celebrity guest judges. The 12 Queens competed for prizes that included a year’s supply of Anastasia Beverly Hills cosmetics and a cash prize of $100,000. This year’s winner, Bob the Drag Queen, was inspired by the first season of the show and began doing drag after that time, using several personas until settling on Bob the Drag Queen in 2013. He focused on comedy routines throughout the competition and won three challenges.
Other contestants joining Bob on this tour include the quirky Kim Chi (Sang-Young Shin), the fashion conscious Naomi Smalls (Davis Heppenstall), the older woman Acid Betty (Jamin Ruhren), sexy Chi Chi DeVayne, and outrageously athletic Thorgy Thor (Shane Galligan). Each of the Queens utilized the catwalk placed center stage and lip-synched to their chosen song.
Audience members were invited to the sides of the stage to offer donations to the Queens, who often enticed those who offered dollar bills with suggestive movements and verbal invitations. The unrehearsed moments were often the funniest of the evening, showcasing the Queens’ skills to entertain live audiences rather than to simply perform for a row of judges.
After each of the contestants had a chance to show their catwalk style, they sat in a row of chairs in front of the audience, taking questions and creating more unrehearsed moments. Questions included the mundane to the fantastical, offering each of the contestants a chance to respond on the spot, often to hilarious results. Emcee Bob the Drag Queen held the show together like a Las Vegas promoter, but it was his supporting cast that brought the night of entertainment into the memorable zone.
If you missed the Queens in Durham, they are continuing their tour across the United States and details are available at http://www.dragfans.com/.
SEASON 8: THE QUEENS. LOVE ACROSS AMERICA, hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen and featuring runners-up Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls, plus Chi Chi DeVayne, Thorgy Thor, and Acid Betty (Murray & Peter Present, Jan. 17 in Fletcher Hall at The Carolina Theatre of Durham). SHOW: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/events/season-8-queens and https://www.facebook.com/events/1609574119338140/. PRESENTER: http://facebook.com/mppresent and http://twitter.com/mppresent. VENUE: : http://www.carolinatheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/CarolinaTheatreDurham, and https://twitter.com/CarolinaDurham.
Dawn Reno Langley is a Durham, NC-based author who writes novels, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction books on many subjects, as well as theater, music, and dance reviews. She is also a writer, editor, writing coach at Reno’s Literary Services of Durham. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/. To read more of her writings, click http://dawnrenolangley.blogspot.com/ and http://poetryandgardening.blogspot.com/.