Entertainment :: Theatre

Leslie Jordan and Varla Jean Merman

by Jack Gardner
Contributor
Tuesday Apr 10, 2012
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Leslie Jordan stars with Varla Jean Merman
Leslie Jordan stars with Varla Jean Merman  (Source: Parker Playhouse)

Seeing Leslie Jordan and Varla Jean Merman at the Parker Playhouse was a joy and a pleasure. These two seasoned performers always put on a fresh and unique show.

I have seen both of them perform separately several times over the past several years and every time I see them, their acts are new, fresh, and exciting. I’ve never seen the same routine from either of them twice. That is the highest compliment I can pay any comic. It was more than two hours of laughter and downright dirty entertainment.

Varla Jean Merman is always a sparkling performer. She is, perhaps, one of the best female impersonators to come along in the past 10 years. Her voice and her demeanor are spot on, and unlike many female impersonators, she can actually sing very well.

Of particular note was her musical mash up of "The Queen of the Night’s Vengeance Aria" from "Die Zauberflöte" with Lady Gaga’s "Telephone". The high part of the aria was played on Varla Jean’s iPhone. Her humor can be as raunchy as Sherry Vine’s, but it is presented with a large amount of class and, I hesitate to say, good taste.

Leslie Jordan is one of the most prominent gay performers, simply hilarious on stage, and has 56 years’ worth of stories about growing up in the South, being a female impersonator in Atlanta in the ’60s, and becoming a Hollywood celebrity.

The only downside to Varla Jean’s performance was that her lighting engineer didn’t seem to know what he was doing. At one point she was heard to say, "Well, at least they got the spotlight right." But technical difficulties and all, Varla Jean was simply amazing. My theater guest and I laughed uproariously the entire time she was on stage.

The second half of the show featured Leslie Jordan. To gay audiences, Leslie Jordan needs no introduction. He is one of the most prominent gay performers and for good reason. He is simply hilarious on stage and there is never a dull moment. He has 56 years’ worth of stories about growing up in the South, being a female impersonator in Atlanta in the ’60s, and becoming a Hollywood celebrity.

He is witty and continually enthralling. Very few performers can command a stage by themselves the way that Leslie Jordan can and in many ways, he is much more entertaining as himself than he is as some of the characters that he has portrayed on the large and small screens.

The show was well worth the $40-50 ticket prices. It provided my companion and me with some of the best belly laughs we’ve had in a long time. My one unfulfilled wish would have been that Varla Jean and Leslie actually performed a number or skit together at the end. It would have brought together both halves of the show nicely, but in all honesty, I left completely happy and with a big smile on my face.

Varla Jean Merman and Leslie Jordan performed on April 7 at the Parker Playhouse, 707 Northeast 8th Street Fort Lauderdale. For info on upcoming shows, visit www.parkerplayhouse.com/

Jack Gardner has been producing theater in Dallas and Fort Lauderdale for the past 8 years. He has performed in operas, musicals and dramatic works as well as doing voice-over and radio work. Jack lives in South Florida with his three dogs.

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