You know those times in life when everything goes wrong and yet somehow turns out better than right? That, in a tasty synopsis-y package, is the tale of how I came to meet RuPaul on Thursday.
It all began when The Vaudevillians had only a short stint in New York. Since we were already going to Europe, our chance of seeing it looked bleak. But we were already flying in and out of Newark, and, what was this? The Vaudevillians had a 9:30 pm show the same night we were landing just outside the city at 6:30 pm, giving us a three-hour window to get into Manhattan? And no more shows until the end of the month.
All right, then. Even with customs, it couldn’t take that long, and it only made sense to go while we were already there. Tickets? Check. Pre-paid hotel room? Check.
Of course, that three-hour window wasn’t accounting for weather, and why wouldn’t August 8, 2013 be the first experience I ever had being diverted to another airport because the thunderstorms in the area were hellacious and our plane was low on gas? Plus, two landings and one take-off in the span of forty minutes was the perfect way to prove my stomach is not made of steel. So, two-and-a-half hours later, we land in Newark, endure customs, get to our car, and leave our pre-paid hotel room siting empty to book a room closer to home.
Once home, though, the desire to see The Vaudevillians did not dissipate. It grew more gnawing. But rebooking would be insane. Three weeks away from home, and we would have to go again almost immediately, because the final show was August 29th.
I wanted to go see the Hill Town Plays in September anyway, remember? We could just see them while we’re there maybe… Argh, fuck it! Fuck funds! Fuck working! Fuck responsible behavior! We’ll just go at the end of August and accomplish it all in one fell swoop.
So, with this attitude in mind, we bought our tickets for The Vaudevillians for August 29th, the night of the last show. Success, Bohemians. We shall see art!
A day later, the show was extended through the end of October. We already had tickets for August. Well, wasn’t that a crazy, inconvenient occurrence?
Or was it?
Why, oh why, did I long so deeply to see The Vaudevillians? Because Jinkx Monsoon is a talent, and a character, and, if the editing on RuPaul’s Drag Race is to be believed, an utterly beautiful, authentic human being. Her success is well-deserved and exciting, and I wanted to spend time in a room soaking her up.
Indulging in her was more like it.
Put quite simply, The Vaudevillians is a master work of theater, the kind of show that comes from real creative genius and sincerest affection.
Jinkx is a star. Major Scales is every bit her equal. The comedy is as solid as the crazy-good renditions of pop songs. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Since 2006, Sandra Bernhard’s Everything Bad & Beautiful has topped the list of things I have seen in theater. It has finally been toppled.
As The Vaudevillians came to a close, and we were awaiting our check, the rightness of the wrongness came to fruition as I looked up to discover that RuPaul was in the house. Just as I got my wits and bits about me, he (out of drag) began to depart.
So I ran after him.
Following him up the stairs and through the restaurant above, I at last stalked him to the sidewalk and confessed that I just chased him up the stairs to tell him I loved him. Then, he hugged me and called me “kiddo,” and I was glad for crazy storms that diverted my plane to Philly.
The Hill Town Plays
The next three days in New York were devoted to Lucy Thurber’s Hill Town Plays, a thematically-woven set of five separate works at four theaters. We were supposed to see them all, but our scheduled performance of Scarcity was cancelled, so we ended up with a slate of only four – Ashville, Where We’re Born, Killers & Other Family, and Stay.
I knew before I went it would be tough. It was tough. I didn’t love everything put before me, but there were moments in everything that I loved.
Christopher Abbott was quite striking in Where We’re Born. I’ve seen him in a few things and he delivered on this performance in a big way.
Stay was somehow my favorite as a potential work and my least favorite as a finished work at the same time. And the only one after which Shawna aggressively rolled her eyes.
Killers & Other Family, I’m still not sure. I can’t figure out if it’s an experience I want to repeat or to diligently avoid in the future. Because I thought I was okay. Though they were numb, my legs still moved. Though I was shaking, I had managed not to lose my shit in the theater. Then, I emerged on the street, took a deep breath, took another, and went into all-out, hysterical bawl mode. Intimate venue, superb acting, extremely difficult subject matter, and, apparently, both my physical and mental selves are beyond my control.
The day before I found myself ill-prepared for the emotionally-aggressive Killers, I got in a few (much needed, as I was to discover) laughs at Ashville. And a few non-laughs. But, for our purposes, we’ll consider Ashville the “comedy” of the group. Now, I may be a little biased, but I do believe Aubrey Dollar was the most captivating of a very talented cast. Especially in the scenes where she got to get mad. And when she got to laugh. She has a good laugh. Now, I need to see her laugh alongside Christine Baranski in something.
Also, Redhead’s play was directed by Karen Allen, so I just want everyone to know I stood under an awning with Mrs. Indiana Jones.