PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Off-Broadway's Pageant Contestants Pick Songs They'd Do Drag To

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21 Aug 2014

Nick Cearley
Nick Cearley
Photo by Jenny Anderson

Cast members from the Off-Broadway revival of Bill Russell, Frank Kelly and Albert Evans' Pageant, the musical that puts its stars in drag and has them compete for a glittering tiara, pick songs they would do drag to as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.

Directed by Matt Lenz, the production features contestants Nick Cearley (The Skivvies), Nic Cory (Signs of Life), Alex Ringler (West Side Story), Marty Thomas (Wicked, Xanadu), Seth Tucker (Our Kiki) and Curtis Wiley (Motown), with Drama Desk nominee John Bolton (A Christmas Story, Titanic) as the host.

Performances of Pageant take place Mondays at 7 PM, Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 7:30 PM.

Here's how it's billed: "Like every beauty pageant you've seen before, Pageant features contestants desperately vying for a glittering tiara. With swimsuit, talent, and evening gown competitions – the show includes both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! Unlike some beauty pageants you've seen before, the female contestants are all played by men. And the audience gets to select the winner each night. Filled with excitement and suspense, but first and foremost, beauty. Let the beauty begin!"

Performances began June 29, prior to an official opening July 14, at the Davenport Theatre. The extended engagement plays through Oct. 26.

For tickets, visit Telecharge.com or phone (212) 239-6200.

Nick Cearley: "Fancy" by Reba McEntyre. Why? Because there is no better story to tell through song than the dramatic journey of "Fancy."

Nick Cearley: "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt. I think if I were to do a song in drag, I want to translate the pain and torture I feel realistically through the beautiful text of this heartbreaking classic. I also have mastered the single tear with the help of a yellow onion grown in my backyard… Well, my mom's backyard.

Marty Thomas: I'm torn. Given the opportunity to express myself through drag, I immediately think I'd go with "I Wanna Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" by Patsy Montana or "I Wanna Be a Rockette" by Karen Ziemba. I just feel like goal-oriented material is the way to go.

Marty Thomas: I also am magnetically drawn to camp and glitter. I would probably wind up doing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls or "I'm Here" from The Color Purple because I like to go last. #showstopper #11:00number #finalbow #nameabovethetitle

Seth Tucker: Shelley Fabares' "Johnny Angel." My favorite style of music is definitely the Golden oldies, so it would have to be some stereotypical poodle-skirt song that seemed offbeat and allowed for bopping and backup singers. The first song that comes to mind is Shelley Fabares' "Johnny Angel."

Seth Tucker: "Llorando" from "Mulholland Drive" ("Crying" by Roy Orbison). Continuing with the odd oldies, I love the idea of doing recognizable tunes in a creepy way. The a cappella and foreign language makes it that much better. Obsessed with this song, it would be the best/creepiest drag song ever.

Nic Cory: "Me" from Songbird! The Sweet Bird of Youth Musical as dramatized in the classic film "Death Becomes Her." There comes a time in the career of every drag queen when she must ask herself the hard-hitting questions: Do I know how to sell a false mirror? Is my stair choreo reading in the mezzanine? Do I have enough dancing bellhops? Only one person can answer these questions. And that person is Meryl Streep. And answer she does. Always the benevolent queen, Ms. Streep provides a master class in the art of drag in this clip. Note her fierce leg extension, the way she cups her breasts — while acting! — and her seamless slide from chest to head voice at the end of the number. To quote the song, Ms. Streep is "an inspiration, to a [drag] generation! NOW YOU'RE TALKING!"

Nic Cory: "I'm SAS" by SAS (née Rachelle Rak). Warning: THIS VIDEO IS NOT INTENDED FOR DRAG NOVICES. IT CONTAINS ADVANCED CHOREO, FACE, READING AND SHADE. And, here's the Meryl Streep of Broadway. In this clip, SAS gives us a graduate-level master class in the art of Living Your Best Life (#LYBL). Once you've perfected your "bite the apple" and your "cha cha puus," you're ready to move on to "bringing your MOS," "to sigh and twirl," and you may even be ready to dance on a futon. Keep working and always remember to SAS IT UP!

Alex Ringler: "G.U.Y." by Lady Gaga. I've always had a penchant for recreating choreography ever since I saw my first Janet/Madonna/Paula Abdul video. So if I were to do (or set) drag again, I'd probably grab a few backup dancers and put together Lady Gaga's "G.U.Y." I love what she did in that video!

Alex Ringler: "Saccharin" (Gilda Radner). And being a huge Gilda Radner fan, I'd probably recreate something from her one-woman Broadway show, Gilda Live. Most likely this little ditty about the time saccharin was almost removed from public consumption because it gave lab rats cancer.