Article Title:Review: Spectacular drag in QWU pageant
Author or Credit:Jay Bennie
Published on:17th November 2008 - 09:33 pm
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Story ID:6761
Text:1st place: Miss Transylvania Simplistically, and alliteratively, the three things a drag show must have, apart from padded bosoms, dubious lip-synching and vertigo-inducing high heels, are Fun, Fizz and Fabulosity. So how did Saturday night's Queen of the Whole Universe rate on the 'F' scales? I score it a seven, a seven and a nine out of ten. It was a fun night. Sure, Buffy and Bimbo have a predictable shtick, but the Fun was there when the unscripted moments clicked and when the scripted material was on the button, such as the jokes in the opening announcement, but it was light-hearted, in your face, camp as hell fun. Fizz? Well, at interval I was worried. The first half was a little flat, except for the headdress section which was so over the top it was unclassifiable, but the sheer vitality of the performers and their presentations picked things up no end. 2nd place: Miss Japan As for Fabulosity, the fifth Annual QWU had that in spades. The format is standardised, with the competition aspect of the pageant only kicking in when the numbers have been artificially culled down to the 'final' six. But many of those culled on Saturday night were remarkably inventive, with heaps of sequins, glamourish and occasion ally garish outfits, a smattering of sly humour (Miss NZ's grungy pavlova, Miss China's noodle box, Miss Japan's harpoon, et al.) and more professionalism than in previous years. To put it bluntly, there was very little cringing at under-rehearsed performances or sub-par outfits. It was the Fabulosity that carried the rather long night, with drag costumes on a grand scale and stage settings which at last took advantage of the huge ASB Theatre stage. The six finalists, in particular, took QWU glamour to a higher level than ever before. 3rd place: Miss Australia Miss Transylvania was a deserving and popular winner, but head judge Alison Mau was spot on when she repeatedly exclaimed what a tight race it was. The other finalists were all varying degrees of superb, mainly favouring an 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach of representing their countries. Miss Japan's characterisations and costumes and supporting artists were remarkable. Miss England's tongue in cheek rattling through highlights of her nation's history was deliciously cheesy. Miss Italy's escape from a villanous shepherd to achieve operatic aspirations somehow blended every bad Italian movie ever produced and Maria Callas on a bad night. Miss Australia totally and effortlessly commanded the stage in both the question and artistic presentation sections, and Miss Canada managed to pull together a decent act from a nation whose blessings are largely limited to scenic splendour and Mounties. But it was Steve Lawrence's night, as it has been for two, or is it three, of the previous QWU shows. Gaining a reputation for his extravagant and inventive shows, Lawrence matured this year into a stunningly good performer, pushing the boundaries way beyond most performers' comfort zones and succeeding with stunning outfits and a cohesive, almost cinematic, flow to his act, a quality which first emerged with his Miss India three years ago. And in tearing off his wig to thunderous applause, Lawrence paid a knowing and wonderful homage to the historic stage traditions of European female impersonators. Yes, it was long. Yes there were a few moments which slowed to a crawl. But 2008 will be remembered as the year that Queen of the Whole Universe rose above amateur theatricals on the big stage and grew into a fully fledged big venue drag spectacular. - Jay Bennie Jay Bennie - 17th November 2008    
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