Review by Bart Greenberg ~
Distorted Diznee is definitely one show you will never see performed at The Magic Kingdom. However, in various incarnations, it has been holding forth for over four years at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. Loud, vulgar, energetic, funny, and did I mention loud, it is squarely aimed at the late night audience seeking some naughty entertainment to keep their drinking company. The assembled are a highly mixed crowd (selling out the space on July 29 when we attended), ranging from gay couples to girls’night-out groups to a few unlucky straight men with dates who were, of course, zeroed in on by the aggressive performers for their humiliation and the audience’s amusement.
The enthusiastic and energetic cast of four drag artists impersonates a wide range of Disney heroines and villainesses (the only masculine character to make a brief appearance is Belle’s Beast). Belle, Ursula, Mary Poppins, Pocahontas, Snow White, Cinderella and Mother Gothel, among others (performers embody three characters each) are some of the familiar figures to dance, fly and swim across the stage while lipsyncing to a wild range of songs, both Disney and otherwise.
Photo by Mark Wallis
The entire show is lip-synced except for the spoken welcome at the beginning and wrap-up at the end. For the roughly seventy minutes in between, it is a mix of Disney soundtracks, pop rock divas and Broadway belts. Much of the humor derives from the odd juxtapositions of the characters and the songs coming from their mouths: Pocahontas offers up the “Proud Mary” as she sings about “rolling on the river,” Tiana and her Frog Prince offer up a melody connected with a very popular puppet amphibian, and Mother Gothel blends her number, “Mother Knows Best,” with the declarations from the most famous stage mother of all times. A few of the songs are also original material: Ariel bemoans a missing body part that has nothing to do with her legs – and no, I cannot be more specific here.
The costuming throughout, mostly recreating the animated designs of the films, is glamorous and beautifully detailed. The choreography is spirited, challenging and especially impressive when embodied by the Amazonian Brenda Dharling. This is not to spurn the other enthusiastic participants Bootsie Lefaris, Pixie Aventura and Holly Dae.
A caveat: The show is very loud. Relentlessly LOUD. If you possess sensitive ear drums, this may not be the night out for you. However, if you have a taste for the raunchy and the outrageous, do check these dizzy drag queens.
Distorted Diznee next returns to The Laurie Beechman Theatre downstairs in the West Bank Café on Theatre Row (West 42 Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues) on September 2 at 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased via www.spincyclenyc.com