Saturday, July 27, 2002

The Music in Me!/Varla Jean (Cleveland Public Theatre)

I've got 'The Music in Me!' a delight at CPT

The stage is dark. The music, “Make Your Own Kind of Music” fills the theatre. A vision appears, a tall, long legged, muscular, full-busted woman with flowing red hair appears. Varla Jean Merman is here! Well, in actuality it’s Jeffery Roberson portraying Varla Jean. Don’t get the idea that this is a drag show. It’s not. Jeffery is Varla Jean. He/she also does all her own singing. No tapes of Liza, Bette or Barbra here. As Varla states, “I’m too self absorbed for that.”

The show, which is audience-inclusive, is part adlib, part music, part video, part double entendre, and full-time fun! This “woman” can sing. “She” can sing even when shooting canned cheese whiz down her throat. This “woman” can bat her eye lids and convulse an audience. Her rewritten version of MY FAIR LADY’S “Why Can’t the English” as a rap song is clever. Her Yodeling Weiner ventriloquism act convulses. The video of her attendance at her prom was delightful. Her final goodbye, complete with a plea to the audience to buy her c.d., left the audience laughing.

Capsule judgement: Go to the show expecting the outrageous and you’ll go with the right attitude. Do go, you’ll be enraptured.