Monday, April 9, 2012

A Delightful ‘Deconstruction of a Drag Queen’

By Paola Hornbuckle

Michael (Shaun Tuazon) dressing up in his sister's clothes

Circle Circle Dot Dot Theatre Company really has a winner with Katherine Harroff’s Deconstruction of a Drag Queen. The play presents the life of Michael (Shaun Tuazon) as he transforms from scared young boy afraid of his mother and hiding his desire to dress in his sister’s clothes and put on make-up, to teenager keeping his sexuality hidden and locked away, to conflicted pre-med student, to dance major and full-blown drag queen. Along the way a fantastic cast of five actors/dancers perform a multitude of roles, at times talking, at times singing and dancing, at times real, and at times in his imagination. The men and one woman are dressed in drag (except for Michael until his transformation into Sunny Peaks) throughout the performance, bringing a surrealistic and deliciously sexy tone to the entire production. Continuously funny, packed with fun and touching musical numbers, but still doing justice to the seriousness of Michael’s journey, the play was extremely humane in its interpretation, and ultimately upbeat and positive in its message: to accept and embrace yourself how God made you, and if your family will not accept you, to create a family from your peers. I absolutely adored this play. It never dragged, the scenes were short and sweet, as were the musical numbers which always left you wanting for more, the transitions were completely smooth and the set was minimal. Its fresh, funny, realistic, fantastical, and very human. There is also something so exciting, hilarious and enticing about seeing performers in drag who know what they are doing because of their combination of sexuality and tongue-in-cheekness.

L to R: Sunny Peaks (Shaun Tuazon), Tessa Tickles (Justin Warren Martin), Utopia Pleneesha (Kevane La'Marr Coleman)

It was a visual and sensual delight. I enjoyed how the use of music was so well-integrated into the scenes.  Every performer did a wonderful job and was wonderfully cast. I really enjoyed Shaun Tuazon’s performance, this is the third time I have watched him on stage and he always does a fantastic ingénue. His sweetness, vulnerability, confusion and barely repressed excitement when dancing was perfect for his role as Michael and he really shone in his dance numbers as Sunny Peaks. Julio Jacobo was epic in his portrayal of the chastising Mamma and the accepting mentor Duchess Hunny Mustard, as well as dance teacher Sylvia. His presence, poker face, and deep voice commanded any scene in which he participated and we saw his power to influence for ill as Mamma and for good as the club owner of Stilettos. He also had some of the most powerful lines in the play regarding self-acceptance and our duty to take care of others. “Take that passion and turn that lifestyle into a way of life,” said Hunny Mustard regarding dancing in drag to Michael. “She needs a family not some jealous bitches,” to the other dancers regarding Sunny Peaks, “With love and guidance everyone can be a star. So love your babies. If your son wants to wear a dress let him. If your daughter wants to shave her head, let her.”

Drunk Tijuana Performer (Kevane La'Marr Coleman)

Kavane La’Marr Coleman was hilarious as jealous Utopia Pleneesha, dance mayor Sasha (beautiful and delicate dance number) and a drunk Tijuana Performer. Her Tina Turner number was outstanding. Michael’s visit to Tijuana was exceptionally funny with the “Gasolina” music playing in the background. James Darvas as Ivanna Lakes was touching as Sissy, the sister who protects Michael, and Cynthia, the jealous junkie performer. She also played as Cynthia and Lula, Hunny’s mentor when she was young, and did a wonderful job. Justin Warren Martin as Tessa Tickles, the sympathetic dancer kind to Michael was another perfectly performing piece of this ensemble. I really liked her as Serina, the school girl who taught Michael to dance, and the T.J. Performer in the cage, as well as Tessa. Melissa Coleman-Reed was the only Drag King, and played all the male roles with relish. The gay Jake who first kisses Michael as a kid, Paul who entices Michael to go to TJ, Tommy, and Duke D’lux the swaggering dancer with sex appeal and great dance moves at Stilettos.

Written and directed by the very talented Katherine Harroff, choreographed by Anne Gehman and Anthony Diaz, sound design by Matt Lescault-Wood, lighting by Areta Mackelvie, costume design by Soroya Rowley and set design by Patrick KellyDeconstruction of a Drag Queen is well worth your time. For tickets and information go to It is played at the Tenth Ave Theatre until April 21st.

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