Uptown Players’ 12th Annual Fundraiser - Broadway Our Way (Broadway Music....with a twist!) - is sublime. With Jeremy Dumont’s versatile, fresh choreography and B.J. Cleveland’s sharp, witty writing this smooth, role-reversing musical revue is provocative, clever, sometimes tender, sometimes bawdy, sometimes over the top, but always engaging, pleasurable and impressive. The premise (women sing pieces originally composed for men and men sing women’s songs) though not easy to manage in the processing stage, is amusing and often, captivating. Cleveland's send up of Honey Boo-Boo is sheer brilliance. Is it even possible to spoof Honey Boo-Boo? I guess so. John Campione’s cover of Don’t Rain on My Parade from Funny Girl was thrilling and inspiring, Morgan Mabry Mason’s performance of West Side Story’s Maria was a revelation : exquisite and overwhelming. Pass my hanky please.
The tone and timbre of Broadway Our Way varies from year to year, sometimes it’s a bit more raunchy and blue, others it may lean more towards ballads and proclamations, but there’s always variety. Group numbers that include the entire, sprawling company of 26. Drag mastery and finery by the phenomenal Cleveland and Coy Covington (and others) cameos by local favorites, solo pieces (wicked or melancholy) and sexed-up satirical pieces by male and female ensembles. This year includes a sly seduction cum medical fetish number with the guys referencing Doctor’s Orders from Catch Me if You Can and Does your Mama Know? from Mamma Mia.
I think it’s safe to say this year’s offering was somewhat more subtle and nuanced, and perhaps avoided some of the more subversive and mind-blowing aspects of gender-fracturing, but, that’s ok. I’ve always loved the way Uptown’s Annual Fundraiser combines relaxed, playful delivery, with diligence and impeccable quality. Over time an unmistakable attitude of empowerment, nurturing, defiance and exuberance in the privilege of queer loving and worldview has emerged, and I have nothing but admiration for these beautiful, joy-filled, consummate professionals who step-up to the plate, when we must still deal with morons like those from Duck Dynasty and The Bachelor. Perhaps one day we’ll move beyond the idiocy of describing hysterical vindictiveness as a “difference of opinion” (however they may disguise it). But in the meantime, we have those remarkable souls at Uptown that have the cojones to heal the damage and show us the way. God Bless Them.
Uptown Players proudly presents their 12th Annual Fundraiser : Broadway Our Way (Broadway Music...with a twist!) playing January 17th-26th, 2014. The Kalita Humphreys Theater. 3636 Turtle Creek Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75219. 214-219-2718. www.uptownplayers.org