Review | Laura Money
It’s absolutely no secret that I adored Disney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody – a tight, intelligent show that takes Disney classics and scrutinises them in a hilarious way. Disney in Drag UP LATE: A Perverted Parody takes the essence of the earlier show and twists it into a cabaret style evening of filthy songs, bawdy entertainment, and more jokes about genitalia you can shake your booty at. It’s more of a traditional cabaret than a fully immersive story with a through line, however this works well – maybe just advertise it like that to avoid disappointment. Each act takes beloved Disney material, be they songs or characters, and sends a scathing message about gender norms, healthy sexual activity, hell even the environment gets representation! It’s a raunchy and hilarious night out, up late with all of your favourite characters that ends on a massive buzz!
Keeping us all swashbuckling along is our amazing host, Captain Cooked (Mita Hill) who has enough ‘plank’ jokes to keep the boat afloat all night long, if you know what I mean! Hill’s crowd work is exceptional and she stays in character the whole time – throwing out innuendo after innuendo and laughing raucously at her own puns. And rightly so – the puns will give you the jolly rogering you need to laugh all night! Hill is great – check out the running gag of different things in place of her hook – she has an excellent rapport with the audience and each of the acts throughout. Except Ursulabia (Emma MacMillan) which is a gut wrenching shame because MacMillan is indisputably talented – her parody of Poor Unfortunate Souls is 100% a highlight – she is just misplaced here as a joint MC. Hill loses momentum and the pair lean towards in-jokes and appear to put each other off. The other poor unfortunate thing is the character of Ursula is a long-term mainstay in the drag community – the original design was based off of a drag queen and I find it baffling that a man did not take on this role (or at least a woman of size). I’m not saying that drags have sovereignty over the character – to do so would be to miss the point of this show entirely – anyone can dress up and express themselves in their own way, but it does fall a little flat here. Casting choices aside, the costume is phenomenal and MacMillan’s turn at ‘Gender Normative Roles’ is hands down the best song in the whole damn show. The lyrics are scathing and clever and the message is on point for 2021.
Sex positivity is the theme here, and the Disney in Drag crew are clearly in their element. Mixing bawdy outrageousness with dazzling voices and clever lyrics, they turn every song and act into a lesson in debauchery. Jae West kills it as the Queen of Hearts (no pun for her, let’s try to think of one, hey?) in a brilliant number about female pleasure sung to the tune of ‘Be Prepared’ complete with some secrets under her skirt. Joseph Andrin gets us hot and steamy as Tartzan, playfully leading the audience in a gentle bit of interaction. His ability to communicate meaning without speaking is inspired and he gives a sexy twist to a classic bit – every bit the vaudeville star. New to me is Ben Kay as Cruella – who doesn’t need a drag name as, let’s face it she already had one! Kay’s number is pure cabaret and so funny – his facial expressions could cause the spots to jump right off of your puppy as he saunters around the stage in a classic drag number. If it seems like I’m just listing the acts at this point, you’d be right but that’s only because there is a lack of cohesion in this show. With separate acts all linked by the MC and no major plot line UP LATE would do well to format itself in a more classic cabaret fashion.
At first, I was inclined to encourage this show to focus on the villains as the other one is mostly heroes and while I do still think this idea has merit – especially as villains are more fun and highly sexualised, I am inclined to believe that Stefan Testi revealing Belle’s sexual encounters with the Beast are so tittilating they won me over! Testi brings the heat and, while a little soft in his volume, makes himself heard as we all lean in to be given the salacious details. It’s not subtle. It’s not overly clever. It’s steamy af. And I’m ok with that! Speaking of steamy, at one point this show descends into a strip show beginning with the 5 dwarves (all the women mentioned plus Alex and Ashley Nissen) all donning their flanno and shorts to give us the Magic Mike treatment. Then we have the sexy Andrin as Jazzman and Testi as Miss White joined onstage by the original Hairy Godmother himself – Owen Merriman as Maleficent perform an NSFW strip tease that will pop the genie out of the bottle! Ok, we’ve had sex, songs – what’s next? Ah yes, snow. I mean blow, oh hell DRUGS! The final number sees Alex and Ashley Nissen taking on Disney’s newest Queens to finally ‘Let it Go’ – I mean ‘Let it Snow’ – it’s the moment we adult Disnerds have all been waiting for, a Frozen parody so we can all justify belting out the song at karaoke. And it doesn’t disappoint. Not only are the Nissen’s great singers, they throw everything they have at the roles to create a clever and just downright hilarious finale. Look, if you’re not going to get a happy ending through love, you might as well turn to drugs!
Disney in Drag UP LATE: A Perverted Parody is a good solid cabaret. It may not have the subtlety or sophistication of its sister show, but it’s still a great night out. There is an entire generation of kids who grew up with Disney that are now fully sexual adults. They desire sex positivity, kink behaviour, and even environmental reform (the show covers a lot of issues) but they also like to have a good time and every now and then blast out their favourite Disney songs. So, get filthy with the UP LATE crew – be prepared for a lifetime of memories, strap in (on) for your magic carpet ride because if this show doesn’t scar you, no filthy thing will.
This show has run its course in Perth playing as part of FRINGEWORLD 2021 but check out The Hairy Godmothers on Facebook to see what the crew are up to.
Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021