Cast of Sweet Bubbling Nights. Photo by Graham Spence.

Vancouver Playhouse – June 23, 2018

Sweet Bubbling Nights, presented by Soulful Productions, was a one-night revue starring some of Vancouver’s finest drag artists and jazz singers. The entertaining evening was also a fundraiser for the LGBTI Pulse Memorial Scholarship, which is presented by International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration Agency, and is awarded to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (and Queer) youth worldwide who are pursuing post-secondary education.

As expected, there were lots of sequins and costume changes. Justine Tyme, Carlotta Gurl and Willie Taylor gave glamourous performances as iconic divas Annie Lennox, Marilyn Monroe and Aretha Franklin. Their attention to their craft is not just in their convincing lip-syncing, but also in their parodies that honoured the qualities of the artist they impersonated, while injecting their own humour.

Most memorable was the performance of Julie Andrews, by Tyme. Conservatively dressed in a tweed coat buttoned up to her neck, she was everything proper performing I Have Confidence, Do-Rae-Mi, and chassé-ing in a white nightie in My Favourite Things. Still, this British nanny was ballsy enough to pull some laughs by flipping the bird at a drag queen in the audience who arrived late to her seat in the second row. And that was the candid mood that evening; performers and audience members seemed to be comfortably among friends. Audience members shouted words of encouragement to long time jazz singer Sibel Thrasher, as she tenderly sang Etta James’ At Last, dedicated to her late husband. Marcus Mosely and Candus Churchill also sang soulful tunes, some which were written by Moseley or members of the Marcus Mosely Chorale. The band Queer As Funk, accompanied the singers with upbeat arrangements.

Dancers who performed alongside the drag artists were from House of La Douche, a dance crew led by the always magnetic, waacking and house dance artist Jojo Zolina. In their hommage to Madonna’s Vogue – the rendition from her MDNA tour in 2012 – they were the backup dancers to Carlotta Gurl as Madonna, an icon for the LGBTQ community, dressed in a black corset frame and cone bra. Their poise and confident attitude in this number embodied the spirit of the drag artists who performed tonight, whose freedom from gender distinction enables their artistic expression.