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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Funny Girls


I’ve just spent a weekend away in Blackpool, admittedly in male mode (what? I’m on me ’olidays!)

So we booked to see Funny Girls, the famous drag cabaret. The booking office is part of the act, I reckon, hidden round the back with a daft-as-a-brush old lady manning the desk and a lift that entombs you in the dark and goes nowhere.

It was actually one of my female friends who had suggested it. I thought is would be a good chance to gauge their receptiveness to my telling them about how I spend most of my life these days. I was, however, a bit apprehensive about taking muggles to a drag show.

Still, in for a penny ... or £14.50 for table with waitress service. The compere herself, Zoe, showed us to our table. “Walk this way,” she said as she tottered into the venue. My one male friend rose to the occasion by saying, “I can’t walk that way!” Getting into the spirit from the start! Our pretty waitress in red minidress and fab legs brought us drinks. Stupidly, I forgot to ask her name.

The venue is beautiful. A converted late ’30s art deco cinema by Harry Weedon’s firm that built many such venues for Odeon (bear with me here, I’m from an arts and media family) and a Funny Girls carpet that must have cost a fortune. The bar is in front of the stage and the bartop becomes part of the stage during certain numbers. The tables are raised up at the back with the standing public between the tables and the bar. Zoe has a pulpit left of house.

Zoe, a classically acerbic drag DJ (but never abusive), in a wonderful turquoise dress and matching sparkly heels that one of my female companions really envied, was burbling on and playing records before introducing Amber, Jade, Ruby, Krystal and the Boys. The astonishing opening number was a high-energy Brazilian line up with blue sparkly swimsuits and feather headdresses for the girls. A break for Zoe to regale us, and then an American comedy marching band number; another break and then high-kicking gangsters and flappers; an obscene spoof of the lonely goat song from Sound of Music which we will not describe in detail as this is a family blogging site with blogs about pets and kiddies that are entirely innocent; next, seaside jollity (“Sun has got his hat on!”) with the lads getting their swimsuits off beneath their parasols, much to the delight of my female companions; Oklahoma/Gershwin medley; a ridiculous and hysterically mad take on Happy Feet, complete with penguin costumes. The amazing grand finale including Zoe (she wants you to know she’s in it) started with a pseudo-Sixties tribute (“Welcome to the Sixties” from Hairspray and the Austin Powers theme), the girls fabulous in sparkly red shift dresses. It then went on to powerful fantasy costumes and transformed almost to pure Ziegfeld Follies.

Absolutely stunning! Beautiful costumes, imaginative backdrops, quality choreography and very high production and presentation values. Over three hours of variety entertainment for your money (though the drinks cost a little above average). I think my companions were delighted but bemused. I shall return, properly en femme which will enable me to visit the various recommended venues round about. I didn't bring my camera but someone else did so I may be able to put a picture or two up before long. Here, however, is their official photo of the finale lineup


By the way, I recommend Luna Rossa Italian restaurant down the road for a quick, tasty, good value meal beforehand.

As for me, although my two female companions have quite a good inkling about 'unofficial side' of my life from previous conversations, I did not feel my gentle 'coming out' worth pursuing with them further at this stage. This opportunity was ideal for judging what their reactions might be. They'd still be good friends, of course, but at this stage I'd rather have people firmly on board or kept in ignorance if they are a little conservative.

Sue x

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