Reviewer: Richard Maguire
London’s iconic Windmill Theatre may be more famous for its naked ladies, but for the next four Sundays ladies of another kind have taken over the stage. Stunning is a brand new revue night featuring singing and dancing by some of the fiercest and sexiest drag queens in the city.
The three main performers – with no programme notes, names are hard to find – are supported by five other dancers, and their opening numbers evoke The Windmill’s early days, along with its French equivalent Le Moulin Rouge. Lip-synching to French songs, and with legs as long as Italy, they are also topless wearing the most convincing false breasts you’ve ever seen. As the show’s title implies, it’s a stunning opening, and has the audience whooping with delight.
In the 1930s, the Windmill girls were required to remain still when they were naked as living statues were not seen as obscene, and in this way the theatre was able to escape the wrath of the Lord Chamberlain. However, the eight performers on stage in 2018 never stay still for a minute especially when they lip-synch to more current songs including the outrageous R&B/hip-hop track Wash & Setby Leikeli47. Full of attitude, and hair flicks, their performances are formidable.
In between their routines there are a few songs, some jazzy ones by a chanteuse, and others by the special guest, impressionist Christina Bianco, who does a mean Edith Piaf. Sometimes the male dancers, Tom Scanlon and the unforgettable Busola Peters, lead the sections with their erotic and steamy turns. The whole evening is very entertaining and the three short acts fly by. However, because every routine is played like an encore all the performances are in the same register, and the songs begin to blur into each other.
Still, there are enough high heels and ‘slutdrops’ to keep most people happy, but more eye-watering than the dance moves are the bar prices. Bottles of wine start from £110, while champagne is nudging £300, with table service adding more to the bill! These prices are geared towards the Windmill’s more traditional clientele so thankfully for Stunning there is a special drinks menu where cocktails are £10 a pop. Make sure you avail yourself of this menu.
During the Blitz, The Windmill was proud of the fact that ‘we never closed’, a major plotline of the film and musical Mrs Henderson Presents and with Stunning it seems an ingenious way has been thought of to bring a new audience to this most hallowed of venues, while still retaining the sexiness that the theatre is known for.
If you are looking to experience the glamour of The Windmill without ruining your bank balance – or, indeed your reputation – then Stunning may be your opportunity. Very straight-friendly, and, oddly for drag, inoffensive, this new revue has made the next few Sundays a little hotter.
Runs Sundays until 16 December 2018 | Image: