~ Review by Bart Greenberg
Ginger Minj has returned to The Laurie Beechman Theatre to celebrate the release of her new CD, Sweet T. A full and enthusiastic audience (surprisingly, many who’d never seen the self-described “glamour toad” before) cheered the return of the RuPaul’s Drag Race star. She’ll be welcoming new audiences nightly through Sunday, September 25.
Ginger Minj: The Album is a contradictory show— as contradictory as the performer herself. Double meanings and twin images abound. It is a CD release show— despite the fact that the product will not be available until October 21. Where most such shows generally feature the artist running through the playlist of the album, Ginger barely scratches the surface, offering up only 6 songs from the full songlist of the recording. Instead, Ginger prefers to tell the story of the album and the parts of her life that inspired her song choices.
Ginger herself is a study in contradictions: a glamourous drag artist who never makes an effort to hide the man underneath… the bitchy wisecracker who can barely hide the enormous and compassionate heart…. the extrovert diva who flirts with, and insults, her audience, while admitting to still being the small-town Florida boy (the community was so small that when the first McDonald’s opened, they had a parade to celebrate) with social anxiety issues…. the hysterical storyteller who prefers highly dramatic songs delivered without a trace of irony or camp.
Even the title of her album, she reveals, has a double meaning: the “T” refers to both the southern beverage and to “truth”: her truth, for Ginger is never less than totally truthful, even while we suspect that some of her stories might be heightened a bit for the benefit of the audience. As she revealed in discussing RuPaul’s Drag Race, while reality television is unquestionably real, it isn’t always exactly truthful.
The show is a mix of recollections, a Q&A session with the audience, and some dynamite musical numbers performed to the music tracks from the CD. The songs are also backed up by very well-chosen projections of both stills and music videos that reinforce the duality of the evening, ranging from childhood photos behind the inspirational “Dream Your Little Dream” to the original video of Divine performing “You Think You’re a Man” as Ginger offers her cover version in very much her own style.
Ginger explains why Divine is her role model and hero (“She’s our Marilyn Monroe”) and how the discovery of her films opened a surprising and vital world to the scared teenager. She will return to her passion for her icon next summer with a new show totally devoted to the underground film star.
Ginger also tells moving tales of both her disastrous relationship with her father (“Father’s Song”) and her wonderful one with her grandfather, evidently a truly amazing man (“Leave It All Behind”). And, in paying tribute to the most influential man in his life, he returns to the duality he has embodied throughout. With the assistance of his adorable fiancé, Christopher, he transforms himself from the glamorous Ginger to the man behind the woman, Joshua Eads-Brown. It is both very touching and quite theatrical (and quite funny in the couple’s interplay).
Ginger will be returning to the Beechman in December for a country Christmas show, which will no doubt be as delightful and illuminating as Ginger Minj: The Album.
Ginger Minj: The Album runs through September 25, each evening at 7:00 pm, at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, under the West Bank Café, 407 West 42nd Street, New York, NY. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.spincyclenyc.com. In addition to the ticket price of $22 (or $40 for VIP seating and a meet & greet after the show), there is a $20 food/drink minimum.