There’s nothing better than a good gender-bending stage comedy. (Well, except maybe our 36-hour sex marathon with Channing Tatum. But that’s just a rumor we’re trying to start.)
When it comes to men playing women in local theatre, recent favorites include Facts of Life: The Lost Episode and Die, Mommie, Die, both terrific productions by Uptown Players. Now, we’re totally jazzed to see one of our favorite drag divas, Varla Jean Merman, in Shut Up, Sweet Charlotte, a raucous parody of the 1964 Bette Davis “thriller,” Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.
Co-starring Ricky Graham in the Bette Davis role of Charlotte, the misunderstood heiress who’s accused of murdering her fiancé years before, Shut Up is a show that’s funny if even you haven’t seen the movie, and poop-your-pants hilarious if you have (rent it on iTunes or Netflix – it’s cheesy greatness)!
And Graham does Bette Davis better than Bette Davis. Well, at least he’s a little more feminine. Varla Jean, on the other hand, makes us completely forget Olivia DeHavilland’s portrayal of cousin Miriam.
Olivia DeWho? See, we told you.
The camp value is extremely high in this version, which is no easy task given the hammy overacting and “plot twists” of the original movie, but Varla Jean can do no wrong in our eyes. Check out the videos on her web site, www.varlaonline.com, if you don’t believe us. She’s high-larious and we share her twisted fascination with both puns and bodacious bouncing breasts.
For those of us in Dallas, seeing Shut Up, Sweet Charlotte will mean bursting out of the 635 bubble and heading north into suburbia, but we promise it’ll be worth the drive and time-zone change. Or catch the last Southwest Airlines flight to Richardson, which departs at 7:25 p.m.
Best of all, tickets are a budget-friendly $22.50 apiece. That’s a steal by any standard, especially if you’re like us and it takes three $14 margaritas from Cyclone Anaya’s just to get a buzz.
This way, you’re saving money by getting drunk on laughter and we’ve never been pulled over after one too many giggles. That’s about the only thing we haven’t been arrested for, but we’re proud all the same.
Performances Thursday, October 29 and Friday, October 30 at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1 at 2:00 p.m.
Charles W. Eisemann Center for Performing Arts
2351 Performance Drive, Richardson