August 14, 2013
The Vaudevillians - Hit Update Update
: Courtesy of New York's Laurie Beechman Theatre.. Photo by Dina Litovsky.
The Vaudevillians Critical Roundup: the New York Times falls into line with the raves for Cornish alums.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: The Vaudevillians just listed in the New York Times’ Events section as a “Critics’ Pick.”
UPDATE: Rave in the New York Times Theater section. Sure, there’s the review below from the New York Times After Hours section, and that’s pretty darned good, but it’s trumped by one on the Theater page proper from Neil Genzlinger. Opening with compliments for the conceit of The Vaudevillians that the duo has had a hundred years of songs ripped off while they’ve been frozen, Genzlinger writes: “That makes it criminally easy for them to hit the audience’s sweet spot again and again. Straight or gay, everyone leaves this show with sides aching from laughter.” For the uninitiated, any line in a review of your comedy that mentions sides aching from laughter is precisely what you’re hoping for. The show is extended through August 29 (expect more extensions). NY TIMES RAVE
Even in positive reviews writers often find something that didn’t sit well with them. But not this time. As far as the New York Times and a bunch of other reviewers are concerned, The Vaudevillians is a hit pure and simple, no ifs ands or buts. The play, as visitors to this site should be more than aware, is the brainchild of Cornish alums Jerick Hoffer (TH ’10) and Richard Andriessen (TH ’10) who created it for their alter egos: Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales. As is readily apparent, all the reviewers had a difficult time putting aside Jinkx Monsoon’s triumph in cable’s RuPaul’s Drag Race when writing about The Vaudevillians, but that’s understandable; it was huge.
Before the foray back east, Seattle audiences got a chance to meet the alter-alter egos of Hoffer-Monsoon and Andriessen-Scales, vaudevillians Kitty Witless and Dr. Dan Von Dandy, during two warm-up shows at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center — which had a mention of its own in the New York Times. Settling in at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York, the run was to be ten shows. What with the raves it’s been getting, the show is now running through August. If it keeps drawing the kind of critical notice it has enjoyed to date, it’s hard to say how long it will be on the boards.
First to the brightest and best. In the After Hours section of the New York Times on July 17, Tim Murphy was taken with the very concept of The Vaudevillians in his piece, Jinkx Monsoon’s Joyfully Cracked Ode to Vaudeville. “With her partner, the suited-up extra man Major Scales, on piano, Monsoon has concocted a delightful, ridiculous conceit,” he wrote, “She and Scales play Dr. Dan Von Dandy and Miss Kitty Witless, a 1920s vaudeville husband-and-wife duo whose Model T is engulfed in a landslide while touring Antarctica.”
It’s pretty good for an actress to be compared to a comic legend in the NYT: “Monsoon contorts her face with the rubbery magic of Lucille Ball,” continues Murphy, “while Scales, in addition to being a virtuosic pianist, has mastered the cadences and affectations of 1930s screwball film.” Murphy brings it home with some copy for the next Vaudevillians poster: “Monsoon and Scales’ humor is light and sparkling, with a PG-13 naughtiness level. It’s still a pure delight.”
It’s also pretty good when critics like Jonathan Warman pronounce you a generational talent. On the Drama Queen site, he writes in Jinkx Monsoon in “The Vaudevillians” that “This decisively proves that Jinkx Monsoon is far more than just the latest winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The artist otherwise know as Jerrick [sic] Hoffer is, at the very least, one of the most talented and successfully ambitious drag artists of his generation.” Warman sums it up thusly: “This is an immensely entertaining introduction to a performer I hope visits New York often – let it be Monsoon season all the time!”
“What do you get when you combine a rock star drag queen and a goofy theater nerd,” asks Sarah Lucie of Show Business Weekly in “The Vaudevillians” by Jinkx Monsoon and Major Scales. “The short answer: comedic genius. … “The Vaudevillians is taking underground theater lovers by storm. … [It’s] a standout comedy cabaret ideal for drag and theater fans alike. Jinkx is gorgeous, glamorous, and hilariously off-kilter as Kitty, while providing abundant layers of intelligence and artistry. Like I said, it’s a winner.”
It’s nice when a reviewer gives it to you in the first line, like Molly Marinik of THEASY.com in The Vaudevillians: “BOTTOM LINE: Cabaret at its very best, and this time featuring ‘America’s Next Drag Superstar.’” But she goes on, of course. “[T]his lady’s for real. The Vaudevillians stands on its own, apart from Jinkx’s TV success and the context of drag culture today. Both Jinkx and Major Scales bring serious chops to the stage, and the result is highly entertaining.”
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