If you’re a regular reader of Mambaonline Spins you’ll probably know by now that I’m not easily impressed by male vocalists. Female singers – and especially the divas – do so much more for me (and for many millions of gay men out there). I’ve always found them more successful in expressing feelings – whether it be heartache or humour – than their male counterparts. It’s partly because of this preference that I tend to rather enjoy drag shows. Never mind the fact that we’re talking about men dressed as women, drag shows almost always consist entirely of songs by female artists. And it is usually the drag artist’s interpretation of those songs that makes or breaks a show for me.
The Glitter Sisters are among the country’s best-known drag performers, and this time around do not only have a new show, but are also no longer performing at their long-time home Piccola Prima Donna in Norwood (specifics about the acrimonious departure from that venue are best left unwritten). Instead, the girls are newly installed at Adega Peter Place in Bryanston, still every Tuesday night, but with a few differences. Firstly, the ticket price has gone up from R70 to R160, but now includes a three-course meal from a set menu.
It’s not haute cuisine or even the hearty Italian stuff you could feast on at the previous venue, but I couldn’t find major faults with the three courses I decided on. I would however prefer if there were more options on the set menu or, even better, if we could return to an a la carte option.
As for the actual venue, Adega has its pros and its cons: it is a significantly larger venue that allows for a more comfortable table layout, but more than one person mentioned that the sound wasn’t quite what it should be. All in all I found Adega to be a much better venue, even though the waiting staff continued with their service right through the show and on more than one occasion blocked my view of the stage. Oh, and if you’re used to sitting at your table enjoying your “smoke”, Adega will unfortunately insist that you go outside to the terrace to indulge. However, it’s not a real disaster as you can still see the performance from the terrace and the sound is actually a bit better outside.
Which brings us to the show itself, this time called Back to the Music. My initial thoughts – about halfway through the first act – was that we were in for more of the usual. Many – actually, most – of the segments are not new and should be considered classic Glitter Sisters repertoire, with drag standards by Shirley Bassey and Eartha Kitt included. Some members of my party weren’t that impressed because of this – nor that they’d heard some of the jokes between songs before – but what must be remembered is that The Glitter Sisters revel in the traditional, classic form of drag. I think the typical stresses of an opening night also contributed to the shaky start.
However, it is in the second half of the show that the girls REALLY came out of their shells. Yes, there are familiar numbers in there as well, but the overall feel and energy of the second half made the entire show. Ines Beau Rivage’s version of Olivia Newton John’s Xanadu was splendid, Charne’s well-known Tina Turner interpretation a real crowd pleaser and Kitana’s impression of Christina Aguilera (singing Candyman) playfully entertaining. The highlight of the show is however the Madonna’s mash-up of Disco Inferno and Music, as taken from her Confessions Tour. The costumes were brilliant, the act polished and the energy awesome!
I’ll admit right now that I may be a little biased when it comes to The Glitter Sisters since Kurt (or Ines) is a personal friend. However, opening night jitters aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. If you’ve seen them perform before, you’ll probably agree that The Glitter Sisters are a well-oiled drag machine.
If you ever saw one of their shows at Piccola Prima Donna, you’ll know what I mean: their repertoire is always well-chosen, the on-stage banter between the members comes across as natural and unforced, and IBR Couture’s costumes are always top notch. The new show has its flaws, but they are minor. The Glitter Sisters quite frankly put on one of the better drag entertainment experiences in Gauteng, if not the country.
Back To The Music is on every Tuesday evening at Adega Peter Place in Bryanston. Bookings are essential and can be made on 011 463 5048.