Writer: Courtney Act
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Australian drag superstar Courtney Act returns to the Laurie Beechman Theatre with her latest one-queen show, The Girl from Oz. Following an incredibly successful holiday show in the same venue, Act’s latest show takes the audience on a journey through popular songs written and/or performed by Aussies. Teaching the audience how to speak Australian-English, and throwing some Drag Race shade along the way, Act charms audiences as she masterfully covers a multitude of top 40 hits from across several decades.
The show ranges from hilarious, with Act banging the melody to Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye on a small xylophone, to heartwrenching. In what she describes as a Lana del Rey/1950s mashup, Act covers the Bee Gee’s Stayin’ Alive in a way that makes one listen to the lyrics intently. It is transportive and haunting. The balance of mood and tone in the evening is impeccable, with a languid ballad preceding a dance hit, and so forth.
Act makes jokes about “resting on pretty,” a note she received while on Drag Race, but as far as this show is concerned, Act’s beauty is notable but hardly the defining feature of her performance. She is witty, engaging, willing to make fun of herself. Serving body that puts Bella Hadid to shame and enough rhinestones to make Liberace’s corpse blush, Act is certainly dazzling to look at. More noteworthy, though, is her continual bravery through vulnerability onstage. With every show Act performs, she breaks down the showgirl veneer that one associates with glamour queens. Her revue shows are not meant to be confessionals, nor are they, but there is a nakedness beyond that of a body harness that makes Act a compelling force. Her evolution as a performer is a pleasure to watch, and New York audiences will certainly be treated to even more of Ms. Act’s lovely visage and heart when she next returns to the city.
Reviewed on 6 May 2017