By Laura Heuston
It must be a sign of a pretty great farewell tour that I want to see a lot more of the comic. Kipp Lee takes us through all the classic Disney, pop and Broadway hits that they won’t be able to sing once they start taking T and their voice drops, and boy are there song bangers here. As a musical theatre fanatic (though one who is happy to remain in the ensemble because they’re not brave enough to take these songs on), I had to hold myself back from joining in to literally every song. Not that I had to every time, we got to join in for the backing vocals “Touch-a-Touch Me” from Rocky Horror, which of course was an absolute treat.
Kipp did a lot of fantastic things in this show that is often lacking in musical comedy. My favourite in particular was their acknowledgment and continual reference to their pianist Robert Meek, as accompanists are all too frequently overlooked, despite doing a mammoth amount of work. But not Kipp. Rob was introduced immediately after them, and they even credit him with thinking of one of the best received jokes! He helped them out of their costume at one point- and there were some great costumes- solidifying himself not only as a great pianist but a very helpful ally (on stage and off).
Kipp was whimsical and giggly, and despite joking about the “requirement” for trans/non-binary people to educate the cis folks around them (hint; the burden of education does not rest of them, that’s what Google is for) they actually do teach their audience a lot about the journey towards transitioning and the associated anxieties. “Vaginal atrophy” was mentioned, much to the horror of the audience and even more-so, them. As a cis person, the idea of my vagina falling out is absolutely nightmarish, and it’s not even something doctors need to bring up with me. But Kipp has made this journey accessible to everyone, and the tale is full of laughs- most of which are not about the ignorance of those around them. It does come into the experience of course (as much as we wish it didn’t), but it was lovely that Kipp was so able to focus on the positivity of their future.
In terms of singing, Kipp has a lovely voice. At times it was a bit too breathy and shaking, however it did strengthen throughout the performance. This could potentially be fixed with a more rigorous warm up beforehand (although I acknowledge that the turnover time between shows at the Factory is only 15 mins and they did need to set up costumes and the piano). It is worth noting that pretty much anyone would sound breathy when being compared to the likes of Idina Menzel, Phillipa Soo and Adele; this name-dropping might give the songs away, but those who get it know how good they are. They also forgot a few of their lyrics, which I will absolutely put down to opening night nerves rather than lack of knowledge, but they laughed through the errors and relaxed the audience in turn.
Even if you’re not a musical theatre fan this is a warm, genuine and very funny show. The songs are fantastic as stand alone pieces, and they are connected by a moving story told with lots of heart and some wild costume changes. Come see it this week on Friday and Sunday at the Factory Theatre, and make sure you use they/them pronouns when you’re inviting your friends too as well.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.