This show happened more than three weeks ago now. To say I’ve been slack is something of an understatement, but no matter. It’s still making me laugh to think of The Vaudevillians.
The act is a manic, meta comedy duo of two Seattle actor-musicians, on stage as their alter egos’ alter egos. And while you’re more likely to have heard of RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Jinkx Monsoon than her partner Major Scales, the symbiotic silliness of their pairing soon becomes apparent.
Jinkx and Scales (Jerick Hoffer and Richard Andreissen) perform as husband and wife music hall act Kitty Witless and Dr Dan Von Dandy, literally relics of a bygone era. Frozen in their 1920s heyday, they find themselves revived in the present – only to find out their biggest hits have been stolen over the years and made famous by other performers.
It’s a little Postmodern Jukebox with a classic showbiz diva flair, and is delivered with a quirky sense of humour that mixes musical theatre geekery with a love of old school glamour and a modern sense of sass.
In the Unity, it works fantastically. Jinkx may be painted for the back row of a venue five times the size, but having such intimate access to such a larger-than-life act is impressive, and any chance to hear her sing is one that shouldn’t be missed, whether as a parody or playing it straight.
As a couple, Kitty and Dan play with the double act cliche of floozy diva and henpecked husband. It’s a studied portrayal that has clearly been honed for maximum effect and laughs, from every forced smile to cartoonish exposition, and is fit to burst with gags, gimmicks, and improv. The kind of show where a little corpsing is riotous; where audience participation takes no prisoners.
One thing to mention is how pleasing it is to see a Drag Race winner stand alone with a successful act that doesn’t rely on easy-win callbacks to RuPaul’s show (although one very passing reference to a mannerism of a fellow contestant did bring the house down). The Vaudevillians come as their own package, are theatre queens first and foremost, and it shows.