Fabulousity! Mighty Real Sylvester is Back!

Photo: Joan Marcus

Photo: Joan Marcus



NY Theater Review Sandi Durell


For fans of the 70s Queen of Disco, this Sylvester, starring Anthony Wayne, will take you back to the music and memories of the openly gay, black and outrageous transvestite Sylvester. People pay for fantasies and illusions and that’s what they got and get, with Wayne dressed in furs, stiletto heels and sparkle.

Photo: Nathan Johnson

Photo: Nathan Johnson

Currently at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, Anthony Wayne, his ‘Hot Band’ and backups, including Anastacia McCleskey (Violet, Book of Mormon) as Izora Rhodes and Jacqueline B. Arnold (We Will Rock You, Priscillia Queen of the Desert) as Martha Wash (Two Tons O’ Fun – but thinner), along with singers Deanne Stewart (who knocks it out of the ballpark with a Tina Turner high octane “Proud Mary) and Rahmel McDade are shouting it out from the rafters (maybe a little too loudly) as they shake their booty in tribute to the music, lifestyle, and fabulous wardrobe peppered with many tinges of the sadness, loneliness and troubled life that made up Sylvester James.

More like a concert, there is some history thrown in between the songs (a little too cliche at times) about Sylvester’s background, his days in the 70s with the “Cockettes” (drag troupe), where he was known as Ruby Blue, references to his Grandmother JuJu who loved him unconditionally, the various boyfriends, the loneliness and yearning to find the love that would fulfill him, and battling with HIV/AIDS that killed his partner Rick Cranmer in 1987 and eventually himself in 1988.

Anthony Wayne (Pippin, Priscilla Queen of the Desert), a terrific actor, singer, dancer, has captured the style and falsetto high pitched vocals delivering everything from “Ooh Baby Baby,” “I Need You,” “Do You Wanna Funk” to “Over and Over,” “Dance” and “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” within 90 minutes of unstoppable high energy heat, finding time to show off the fabulous costumes of Kendrell Bowman, in a sea of sparkles and spangles, with wigs by Porsche Waldo and makeup by Meghan Yarde.

McCleskey and Arnold are his sidekicks who deliver strong vocal performances and really rock the house as The Weather Girls on “It’s Raining Men.”

At the performance I attended, audience members were not only singing along but, eventually, the entire audience was on its feet, movin’ and groovin’ to the music of Sylvester. I would say the only downside is that the music is at levels that can be uncomfortable so if you’re sensitive, bring earplugs.

“Mighty Real”- A Fabulous Sylvester Musical is co-directed by Anthony Wayne and Kendrell Bowman with book by Wayne continues thru October 5th.  Theatre at St. Clement’s 423 West 46th Street, NYC,   866-811-4111, www.fabuloussylvester.com.