Screenplay and lyrics: Glenn Gaylord
Music: Kimberly Burse
Director: Sheldon Larry
Reviewer: Jenni Rymer
The gay African-American Oliver Twist has arrived, with Beyoncé’s choreographer. Inspired by Jennie Livingston’s 1990 hit documentary Paris is Burning, award-winning director Sheldon Larry (winner of a National Endowment Award for his work with dance on film) has brought his fabulously hilarious yet moving masterpiece that is Leave It on the Floor to the big screen.
As in Paris is Burning, Leave It on the Floor takes the audience into the world of the underground sub-culture of ‘ballroom’, where contestants must categorise themselves into specific themes and ‘walk’ (as in a fashion runway) to be judged on their inner fashionista, performance and ultimate drag status.
The film takes you on the journey of protagonist Brad who is thrown out by his cruel mother on account of his sexuality. He stumbles across a ballroom event among the unforgiving LA streets and thus begins his path to finding his true family within the ‘House of Eminence’. The down and outs of The ‘House of Eminence’ are not dissimilar to Fagin’s group of misfits in Oliver Twist, instead in this instance Fagin is the adopted mother of a group of gay outsiders who is better known as Quief Latina.
This production is jam-packed with great performances that not only encompass comedic genius, but shine a light on diversity. Miss Barbie Q as Quief Latina is outstanding. She embodies the rôle of mother, wife, and leader with aplomb, delivering the emotions and burdens her character has taken on with sincerity and humour. Ephraim Sykes as leading sex siren Brad is also one to look out for, his dance moves are -for want of a better word- enticing, and most certainly do justice to Frank Gaston Jr’s (most famously known for his choreography of Beyoncé’s ‘All the Single Ladies’) dance moves.
In addition to the amazing performances there are also the 11 original songs to mention, a couple are a little-shall we say- cheesy in an ‘R Kelly’ sense but the remaining songs most notably ‘Justin’s Gonna Call,’ ‘My Lament,’ and the title track ‘Leave it on the Floor’ more than make up for it. The songs collectively combine hip-hop, electronica, and RnB, and bring the film to life.
Although this film is not as politically challenging as it possibly could be, and probably better suited to the stage as opposed to screen it is heartfelt and bursting with gay pride.
Fabulously camp, beautifully ruthless, and point blank hysterical, Leave It on the Floor is a certified must see.
Runs until 16 August 2012