Alaska's In a Golden State of Mind!

“On Golden Girls” at the Laurie Beechman Theater  

by Michael Barbieri
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These days, everything seems to be getting re-made, revived or rebooted.  From Wonder Woman, to Will & Grace, and most infamously, Roseanne, everything old is new again.  

Well, over at The Laurie Beechman Theater, drag artist Alaska Thunderfuck is doing a reboot of her own.  It’s her personal take on a big gay favorite; The Golden Girls.

For those of you unfamiliar with the devastating Miss Thunderfuck, she’s best known for having been a contestant on Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.  She then returned for RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars, where she was crowned the winner.  She claims to be an alien from the planet Glamtron... and she may well be.  Her two albums, Anus and Poundcake have been well received, and her voice can go from comedically high-pitched and nasal - as when she delivers her signature greeting, “Hi-yeeeee!”, to a bass rumble with a deep vocal fry that sounds like a creaking wooden door in the gayest, most fabulous haunted house, ever!

In her show, On Golden Girls, she shows off her talent for mimicry and singing, along with a pleasant dose of shade, as she channels those TV icons, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan, Betty White, and Bea Arthur - better known as Sophia, Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy.

Musical Director Handsome Jeremy introduced Alaska, who entered through the audience wearing a gown made from material that was a perfect copy of Blanche’s bedspread and headboard!  She breathily crooned the Golden Girls theme, in a slow, albeit hilarious ad-lib tempo, followed up by the gospel remix of the theme - essentially the same, but with Jeremy taking the vocal, while Alaska contributed wonderfully ridiculous riffs.

She welcomed everyone, explaining that there were three different groups in the house: the die-hard Golden Girls fans, casual viewers who didn’t watch religiously, but were still familiar with the show, and those who had never heard of the show, to whom she said ‘Okay, you can leave now!  What the fuck are you doing here?!’  Explaining that this was not a tribute show, she told us that she and Jeremy dabbled in the “brown arts,” and that the show was more along the lines of a seance, wherein she’d be channeling the four great ladies.  

Alaska’s costume changes were covered deftly by Handsome Jeremy, who played songs used memorably on the TV show.  George M. Cohan's “Over There” led into Alaska’s entrance as Sophia - easily one of the funniest moments of the evening.  Sophia’s feistiness and abrasiveness were captured perfectly, as she performed bits of her one woman show: ‘The Sophia Monologues’, which featured stories of her girlhood in Sicily, including a bizarre tale of the invention of pasta with ear salve sauce.  Don’t ask!

After a quick bit of shade at the expense of one of her fellow Drag Race contestants, Alaska ducked backstage and re-entered as Blanche, to the strains of “Sleep Kentucky Babe.”  She announced, ‘I’m Blanche Devereaux. That’s French for...Blanche Devereaux,’ and looked stunning in a nearly exact reproduction of Rue McClanahan’s red cocktail dress and pill box hat.  She was waiting impatiently for a gentleman friend to arrive, but when her paramour called to cancel, she immediately attempted to seduce Handsome Jeremy with her sultry version of “I Wanna Be Loved By You.”

Jeremy gave us a jaunty “Mr Sandman,” and soon after, Alaska hit the stage in a demure blue outfit, channeling Betty White’s Rose Nylund, who gave us a parody of “The Rose.”  After a brief call to the management of the Laurie Beechman, to complain about the prices, she gave us some of the “famous” songs she’d written, including the “Saint Olaf Fight Song,” and “Miami (You’ve Got Style)”.

The best was saved for last!  After Jeremy’s sing-along version of “I’ve Got You Babe,” Alaska’s razor sharp send up of Dorothy Zbornak swaggered onstage in a loose fitting, green sateen pantsuit, and in an appropriately throaty growl, sang a bitter goodbye to her ex-husband Stanley, with a song choice that had everyone howling with laughter.  

Along the way, there was a lot of dishing - She dished Jinkx Monsoon, saying she was so irritating, that when she appeared in a production of The Diary of Anne Frank, as the Nazis entered, the audience screamed “SHE’S IN THE ATTIC!!!” Donald Trump got skewered, as well, and the nastiest barbs were saved for Drag Race All Stars: Season 2.  The laughs just kept coming and coming...and when they didn’t come as quickly as desired, the technical director had a “laugh track” ready to go at any given time, which in itself was funny!

On Golden Girls is one of the funniest cabaret or drag acts I’ve seen in a long time.  Alaska has a natural flair for comedy, both outright and deadpan.  She’s also a terrific singer - a fact I never would’ve known, as her TV appearances have showcased her lip-syncing.  I should confess that I’ve never been a fan of The Golden Girls, yet I think I may have laughed harder than just about anyone in the club!  The show flew by and I was definitely left wanting more.  For her finale, she gave us one last song: Dorothy’s piano bar hit, “Hard Hearted Hannah,” which took Alaska out into the audience to interact with her adoring audience.

Alaska brings On Golden Girls back to the Laurie Beechman Theater on August 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, with all shows at 7 PM, so strap yourself in and let Alaska take you to Miami, because nothing else can give you a “golden” glow, like a reunion with four old pals and confidantes.  Thank you, Alaska, for being our friend!

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Michael Barbieri

Food & Entertainment Writer