NY Music-Cabaret Review by Eric J. Grimm
Courtney Act, the polarizing and devastatingly gorgeous finalist from this year’s season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, is about as polished as drag queens come. Also a finalist on Australian Idol, she is a skilled singer. As the total package, it was easy to hate her on RuPaul’s Drag Race for being a perfect Australian fembot, in opposition to her fellow queens who were queerer and rougher around the edges. Ms. Act is performing her solo show Boys Like Me at The Laurie Beechman Theater this month, and it affords her the opportunity to reveal more about her personal life and show the vulnerability that she was lacking on television. The result is a surpassingly intelligent evening of pop music and storytelling in which she explores gender issues hilariously and sensitively.
Courtney Act’s singing voice is steady throughout and lends well to both pop tunes and show tunes. There are some clever arrangements including a medley of songs with the word “crazy” in the title (Beyonce, Gnarls Barkley, Patsy Cline, et al). Her most show-stopping moment comes late in the show when she displays raw emotion in her cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now.” Ms. Act effectively turns the song into a musical theater number and it allows her to showcase her impressive range.
Ms. Act is at her best when she takes the audience on a journey through her sex life. It’s often bawdy, but is balanced by her keen observations about gender roles. She refers to female as her “sometimes gender” and tells of straddling both genders throughout her adolescence and young adult life. She works through her personal feelings on masculinity and femininity tactfully. The show is a worthy extension of the RuPaul’s Drag Race brand and its commitment to blurring gender and sexuality lines in a delightfully irreverent manner.
Courtney Act: Boys Like Me is playing at The Laurie Beechman Theater (407 W. 42nd St.) from July 29-August 21. For tickets, visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/920616.