Imbibing a couple of cocktails at a boozy brunch or at a happy hour beforehand would be an ideal way to experience the cheery Housewives of Secaucus: What a Drag!, as its theater doesn’t serve alcohol. Still, this amusing drag spoof makes for a pleasant diversion. The show is noteworthy as it’s one of the first live productions to open in New York City since the pandemic began over a year ago. The audience’s temperature is checked upon entrance and then all wear masks inside the currently at 33% capacity theater.
So as many of you know, my husband Frankie Martini is one of the top plastic surgeons here in New Jersey and he was very gracious to offer the winner of Today’s hat competition FREE BOTOX for a WHOLE YEAR! Yes ladies, yes, it pays to partake in a fabulous event like this.
We’re at Angelina’s Banquet Hall in Secaucus, where a local women’s club is holding their annual school fundraising brunch. Besides a Best Hat winner, Woman of the Year will also be announced. During these festivities, there are clashes, infidelities are revealed, and the suspense of whether a councilwoman will be elected as the first female mayor.
The captivating cast of actors who are here drag artistes is comprised of Philip McLeod, Ryan Stutz, Cammerron Baits, Jacob P.S. Lemmenes, and Sam Brackley. While striding around and dancing in high heels, this magnetic quintet all offers animated stereotypical Italian American characterizations while cracking wise. “I’m Every Woman,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” and, of course, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” are among the classic songs played while showcasing the ensemble’s dynamic lip-synching abilities.
Utilizing characters created by Sean Patterson and working from producer Nancy Levine’s concept, My Big Gay Italian Wedding playwright Anthony J. Wilkinson has crafted an engaging scenario with suitably jokey dialogue. The histrionics and catfights to be seen on reality television are slyly replicated. Mr. Wilkinson’s public venue setting allows for some comical interactive bits. The audience is supposed to be at the brunch, and members are occasionally singled out for joshing.
Hank Kiraly-Fitzgerald’s snappy direction and affinity for smart stage pictures endows the production with fine pacing and presentational flourishes, while his pert choreography heightens the charged lip-synching sequences. Mr. Kiraly-Fitzgerald’s cool suburban-chic costume design along with Shane Walker’s splendorous hats are on vivid display during the first act. After intermission, Kiraly-Fitzgerald decks the cast out with witty nods to Vivienne Westwood, Versace and an Anna Wintour-style floral print dress.
Gold curtains, American flags and colorful bunting embellish scenic designer Josh Iacovelli’s basic elements of a podium and a table, which all simply yet artfully connote the banquet hall locale. Mr. Lemmenes’ on point lighting design contributes visual depth and variety.
Housewives of Secaucus: What a Drag! is a fun time during these changing times.
I’m sorry it just pisses me off how we are all supposed to stand around and applaud these phony bitches after all the shit they pulled. John F. Kennedy had less skeletons in his closet then Brenda Nucci!
Housewives of Secaucus: What a Drag! (through October 30, 2021)
Laugh Out Loud Productions
Actors Temple Theatre, 339 West 47th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 800-447-7400 or visit http://www.housewivesofsecaucus.com
Running time: 85 minutes including one intermission