Drag rock nirvana in Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls

May 07

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The ladies of Above and Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls are (from left) D’Arcy Drollinger as Chablis, Nancy French as Gewürztraminer/Sherry and John Paul Gonzalez as Chardonnay. Below: The cast, including Bobby Barnaby as Chianti and Jane D’Oh as Cabernet, approaches a violent conclusion. Photos by Garaje Gooch

Once the full-out rock song “Flesh Popsicle” has reached its climax, there can be no doubt: Above and Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls is a bona fide rock musical performed by a raucous five-piece band (that includes a one-woman horn section!) and a raging cast of women, men and men-as-women that would send North Carolinians into fits of moral paralysis. In other words, this is an original drag rock musical that kicks (and shakes) some serious booty.

It should come as no surprise that this two-hour slice of “broad” comedy should come from the pen of D’Arcy Drollinger, a co-owner of Oasis and frequent performer on its stage. Drollinger’s shows are consistently entertaining, often hilarious and full of star-turn moments for himself and his wonderful co-stars. He’s working here with composers Enrique and Steve Bolinger (who also plays keyboards), and they contribute a vibrant and vibrating score that includes the aforementioned “Flesh Popsicle,” the instant classic “Thunder Pussy” and the ultra-risqué “Ice Bucket.” If anything, there could be more songs, especially in Act 2.

The whole show is presented like a rock concert, which is entirely appropriate for the story of a rock trio called Super Vixen that is torn asunder when its lead singer, Gewürztraminer (Nancy French) is stolen away by manager Richard “Dick” Face (Manuel Caneri from Warmer Sister Records to become a solo star. Abandoned bandmates Chablis (Drollinger) and Chardonnay (John Paul Gonzalez) turn to drugs and booze, while their friend, now renamed Sherry, climbs up the charts and nabs a Grammy.

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Borrowing liberally from camp classics Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Showgirls, Drollinger, who also directs, keeps the show tight and funny and revved up to arena rock decibels. The supporting cast includes Bobby Barnaby and Jane D’Oh as backup singers Chianti and Cabernet along with Melinda Campero as super fan and aspiring singer Cristal Anderson and the bubbly Lavale William Davis as emcee Karla Rossi. If the entire cast isn’t having a ball with this show, then they’re even better actors than they appear.

Drollinger is so proficient at creating lively shows that he’s going to surprise us one day soon by crafting a true masterpiece – the next Hedwig or Hairspray or some beguiling genre that hasn’t been invented yet. His most recent shows at Oasis have been perfectly suited to wild nights out on the town filled with camp humor, men with the fanciest eye makeup you’ve ever seen and solid comedy. But Drollinger is undoubtedly sharpening his prodigious skills to create the next big thing, and we’ll all look fondly back on its humble origins at Oasis, the nightclub that keeps the San Francisco scene lively, fun and so very San Franciscan.

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Drink in Super Vixen performing “Flesh Popsicle.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Above and Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls continues through May 14 at Oasis, 298 11th St., San Francisco. Tickets are $10-$250. Call 415-795-3180 or visit www.sfoasis.com.

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