At New York’s Laurie Beechman Theatre at 42nd street and 9th avenue, drag is a nuanced, gorgeous thing. Yes, there are the requisite Barbra Streisand and Joan Rivers impersonators. What would a drag theater be without them? But there are also brilliant, creative shows as rich and subtle as anything on or off Broadway. Without question, Laurie Beechman features the best drag shows NYC has to offer.
In the basement of a restaurant, the dinner theater consists of seats at long tables facing a stage. Velvet curtains in deep reds and purples make up the decor. The theater requires a $25 minimum for each guest, but a couple glasses of wine (or better yet, champagne) easily meet that requirement. What’s theater without some bubbly, anyway?
I saw Jinkx Monsoon, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and her partner Major Scales perform their much-acclaimed show, “The Vaudevillians.” The two characters, Kitty and Dan, are vaudeville stars who wrote all the popular songs they perform way back in the 1920s, but were never given the proper credit for them.
Their act features songs as diverse as Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” only they all have a quirky, vaudeville feel to them. Jinkx wears fabulous flapper outfits. Her first costume is a heavily beaded nude dress that looks absolutely flawless on her. Despite her sometimes raunchy choreography, Jinkx Monsoon as Kitty makes a glorious lady.
Other notable drag queens, such as Drag Race stars, Alaska and Pandora Boxx, have also performed their acts at Laurie Beechman. The shows are usually funny, but they’re surprisingly clever, too. And, of course, the queens always look amazing.