Review by Carly Fisher
The best part about a day at the Edinburgh Fringe is the immense variety of productions that you can see. My final day at the festival offered a perfect taste of this as I saw a play, standup comedy, a musical, a gospel choir and a drag show all in the one day.
Queenz: A Show with Balls has found a grand home at the Assembly Rooms and its as loud and proud as you expect it to be when you head into the audience.
The show describes itself as a mix between drag, musical theatre and a party and I would say that it delivers on all three fronts. From our first introduction to the 5 Queenz of the Night (hint as to what the opening number is…), it’s hard not to be dazzled by the fabulous costumes and sheer intricacy of the art that is drag.
The show features a jam packed set list of iconic musical treasures including songs made famous by Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, the Spice Girls, Celine Dion, Sia, JLo, Shakira and more. For me, a major highlight was unquestionably the musical theatre medley where over 20 shows were packed into under 7 minutes and inspired original lyrics to these classic and much beloved tunes. It’s a nice moment and tribute to celebrate the fact that theatre is back and the industry is alive once more and as a fellow member of that industry, the reverence of this is certainly not lost. Additionally, Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ was a standout of the show for sure!
Though each of these songs and medleys is performed very well, the arrangement of the show currently doesn’t feel like it reaches its potential simply because of the order of the concert. After ‘Born This Way’ I waited for a big finale number that could top this number that never came…to me, that song and its meaning is a far more suitable big finish. The medley of Lets Get Loud, Wherever, Whenever and the like is, truthfully, not a standout and would be better positioned somewhere early in the evening to allow the hype to continue to build. The Spice Girls medley is always going to be a crowd pleaser and, again, if the group continues to want to go for the multiple encores, may be better positioned here. The show is not too long, running at just over an hour, but the end drags because by the time we get here, we have seen all the best performances already. Rather than allowing this fizzle, a quick relook at the set list and its construction would allow for a more vibrant show, particularly towards the end, and for the show to dramaturgically make a bit more sense as well, allowing the important messages and clear emotions behind them to better shine.
On that, the show has a clear message to push and whilst some may say that it is cliche, I would argue that the importance of kindness, acceptance and self love can never be overstated. Its a message that obviously holds great emotional impact for many in the cast and it was a privilege to see an audience full of people there to support and celebrate it.
It really can’t be said enough…love is love is love and this show was a beautiful tribute to that.
Jaymi Hensley takes on the exciting, crowd working character of Miss Dia Montay and truly shines within the group thanks to their talent and great comedic timing. Their solo performance of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend is a definite talking point and one of the strongest numbers of the show.
Unfortunately I have been unable to trace down the name of the performer behind the character of Billie Eyelash but their vocal chops require a mention even so. As the classically trained amongst the group, it is their harmonies that carry strongest and their riffs that most impress. A big congratulations.
The unity of the group is not yet totally perfect - some are significantly stronger singers than others, others dance circles around their cast mates, etc. Whether the long term goal is to find a good equilibrium to better regulate and unify the performance, I’m not sure, but it was quite noticeable.
Overall, it was definitely a fun night and though the audience was far from full the night I went, those there were noticeably having a great time. I think the group has immense potential and will delight audiences on their upcoming UK tour…there are just some small tweaks needed to make the fun show, a great show.