Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Varla Jean Merman (Cleveland Public Theatre)


Varla Jean Merman is a sensation on the drag queen impersonation circuit. Her third appearance at the Cleveland Public Theatre, like her other stays-in-residence, delighted the audience.

Her signature shticks: the hot dog puppet that speaks, singing while shooting canned cheese whiz down her throat, her double entendre tales, her allusion to being the daughter of a moment of wild passion between Earnest Borgnine and Ethel Merman, and the home movies of her life, were all present.

I know it’s not her purpose, but sometime I’d really like to hear Jeffery Roberson, who portrays Varla Jean, just stand on stage and sing. This guy/gal has a wonderful voice. But, like the late Victor Borge, who was an accomplished pianist, Roberson has chosen to settle on comedy as his vehicle to fame. And, there is no doubt he has found a positive means of showcasing himself. Varla Jean Merman makes for a fun evening of theatre.

Capsule judgement: Next time Roberson is back in town, catch his act. You’ll enjoy yourself.