By Harriet Webster
We grabbed a vino, and settled down for one of the most gloriously camp shows in London this summer. Sequins, showbiz, Cher; what else would you expect from Iconic: a Brief History of Drag?! There’s bags of it in Velma Celli’s jam-packed hour of extravagance, at the Underbelly Festival at Southbank.
Ian Stroughair, the man behind Velma Celli, is utterly fabulous with sensational vocals. The audience are taken through all the hits, from the wonderful West End, to cracking chart toppers from times gone by, with the help of his friends. The Rocky Horror Show, Kinky Boots, and of course Priscilla Queen of the Desert all feature in the fantastic, toe-tapping show. Using ‘The Tranny Bible’, Velma Celli takes you on the journey to liberation.
Chart toppers from the two most iconic popstars Bowie and Freddie are centre stage, of course. You’ll feel a range of emotions – one minute you’ll be singing along and dancing to Celli’s incredible impersonation of the likes of Shakira, Anastasia and Britney, the next minute you’ll have goose bumps all over thanks to the heart-wrenching renditions of ‘I Want To Break Free’ and ‘I Am What I Am.’
If that’s not enough to encourage you to camp up your life for the night, there’s Kerry Ellis and Jessie Wallace (yes, she re-enacts that scene.) ‘Kenny’ Ellis and Velma Celli perform an incredible medley from Rent, and boy is Ellis good. Under the pressure of following Ellis on stage, Wallace sang a sensational Bowie medley, even if her nerves were evident at points.
The setting for this show is a spectacular cabaret style theatre, which really gets you in the mood and sets the atmosphere. The show setting in itself is quite simple. The lighting is as imaginative as it can be and Celli is centre stage (trust me – she holds all the showbiz you need.)
Iconic: A Brief History of Drag is a fabulous glitterball of fun and frolics which brightened up a rainy August evening on London’s Southbank.