By Christopher Heide
Classic vaudeville meets contemporary stand-up in The Vaudevillians, one of the most progressive shows to hit the Seattle Repertory stage in years. Starring Jinkx Monsoon (Jerick Hoffer) and Major Scales (Richard Andriessen), the show is an uber witty vaudeville act that originated in Seattle a couple of years ago. For those who don’t already know, Monsoon is the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5. She has used her relative stardom to make The Vaudevillians an actual, sold-out hit on Broadway. This raunchy romp is definitely not positioned for the eyes of children.
The premise of the show is as follows: Monsoon and Scales assume the characters of Kitty Witless and pianist Doctor Dan Von Dandy, respectively. The bawdy vaudeville duo are touring Antarctica, when they are caught in a snowstorm and frozen.
“Copious amounts of cocaine” keep them well preserved and they awaken in modern times to find that many of their greatest songs have been plagiarized by “lesser artists”. It’s an insane premise that allows the duo to reinterpret the original versions of many pop hits such as Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. In actuality, it’s a rather genius conception that allows Monsoon and Scales to blend both new and old styles of entertainment into a truly unique presentation. The result is a borderline-offensive, guilty-pleasure entertainment.
While Scales is extremely proficient in his role, Monsoon truly steals the show. Monsoon channels her inner diva, belting out numbers with the arrogant melisma of Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey. More than that, Monsoon’s blend of powerhouse vocals and impeccably sharp humor helps to intensify the shows rapid-fire pace of jokes and pratfalls. The show never seems to slow in its pace, racing at 100 mph for its entire duration. For other shows, such a breakneck pace might be exhausting. For The Vaudevillians, it only serves to enhance the talent of its stars and the genius of its material. An incredibly focused production, The Vaudevillians is a must-see experience.