Tender and life-affirming are perhaps not the first couple of words that pop into your mind when considering a drag show. However, that's exactly what's in store for the lucky crowd at Miss Coco Peru's newest concoction. Yes, it's a drag show, but an extraordinarily smart one and oh, did I mention it's also hysterically funny? In the wake of what I rather think of as the public backlash against us Gay folk, finally making some real headway towards getting our true and just civil rights (the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," legal marriage, etc.), Miss Coco has truly found a voice and a cause. By relating her (his) own torturous growing up/coming out story in the most elaborate, ridiculous and hilarious terms it's an "it gets better" story that simply demands to be seen and heard!
Working the stage in her bright red flip wig and disco ball mini dress, Miss Peru (self professed low-end celebrity drag queen) looks like an attractive Kathy Griffin and can tell a tale and shoot a look with more gusto that Joan and Bette combined. Navigating through an entirely entertaining series of monologues and Barry Manilow tunes (!), the audience is treated to the (mostly) true story of a tortured Gay boy's difficult early years, his fascinatingly colorful and ultimately supportive family and his eventual emergence as the fabulously bitter and brilliant performer we see before us. Touching on subjects and influences as diverse as '70's disaster films, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma, "Star Trek," Karen Black, Bea Arthur and more, the stories are sensationally sung and illustrated with, some would say, gems from the Manilow canon including "Daybreak," "It's a Miracle," "Can't Smile Without You," "Ready to Take a Chance Again" and "All the Time." The details of Miss Peru's journey are never less than interesting, from growing up in a pink house (the writing was on the wall, so to speak) to horrifying and howlingly laughable exploits with priests, nuns and Catholic school. A life threatening accident is genuinely recounted and an ardently affecting short film pay tribute to her Mom and Dad, among the many pleasures to be found in this not-to-be-missed evening. Speaking of the video, this show has some rather quick and tricky technical demands for a small cabaret theatre, which light and sound master David Colbert handles with aplomb.
Miss Coco Peru is Still Alive continues at the Laurie Beechman theatre tonight and tomorrow evening (November 13 and 14) at 7:30pm.