Champagne and Cabaret w/ Kita and Anita – Civic Theatre: Sept 18, 2022

Champagne and Cabaret with Kita Mean and Anita Wigl’it is ribald, racy and raucous fun.

The Drag Queens bump and grind, shake their money-maker, get hard and go soft, outrageously mime to rock’n’roll and jazz. It’s all original slang for the beast with two backs, baby.

Rock me all night long. Roll with me Henry. Lovin’ spoonful jizz to jazz.

The team are the two Nicks. Kita is Nick Nash from Auckland. He won the inaugural first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under in 2021.

Anita is Nick Kennedy-Hall, born in England and came to Auckland in his early years. He was also in the top ten of that first series of RuPaul.

Both own and operate the Caluzzi Cabaret and Phoenix House, well-known venues of Drag theatre and entertainment on Auckland’s iconic Karangahape Road. The only place of vibrant life now in a CBD being mercilessly bashed to death.

Both are hosts and judges on TVNZ’s House of Drag.

Drag shows and burlesque are centuries-old entertainment styles and are an art form in their own right. They pre-date Shakespearean theatre, which borrowed heavily from it. It had its Victorian era hey-day (the Queen was a fan of the Queens). In America, it comes from vaudeville and travelling roadshows.

The audience may take a little warming up but the Deutz is flowing and the blue note of the banter breaks everyone up and lets the juices flow, in a manner of speaking. Whilst I’d love to quote a little, I’d probably get tied up and smacked. Early on, they mention bestiality and noisy sex. See what I mean?

Anita in a blonde wig and close-fitting white gown does a Marilyn Monroe dance to a Thirties German cabaret number. Sounds like Marlene Dietrich and reminds me of the fabulous Oscar-winning Cabaret.

Kita comes out looking like a psychotic Bette Davis clown and does a hilarious routine to accompany Britney Spear’s Baby One More Time. Complete with a hilarious sobbing monologue.

The costumes are really wearable works-of-art. A Carmen Miranda with a massive fruit bouffant. A bird costume of blood-red and black with massive wings which open out as Kita mimes to I will rise like a phoenix.

Goldfinger as sung by Shirley Bassey was already quite camp, but tonight it is all Austin Powers as the finger becomes a gold member.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show song of Count Frank’n’Furter is a familiar delight.

Then a surprise. Anita plays a perfect rendition of My Funny Valentine on a silver-glittered trumpet. The Chet Baker version. As Kennedy-Hall he has a master’s degree in music and played trumpet in the Royal New Zealand Navy Band. A stunning pivot point in the show and great theatre.

Some of the audience are selected to come on stage, name their favourite sex position and participate in a dance-off. The winner resembles Les Dawson and is a great sport.

They close with a fantastic Northern-Soul style female song, which I can’t identify even though I’m told by Kita later, it comes from Hairspray. Get back on the road again/ To the promised land. John Waters gets a name-check in the show. Kita tells me he took inspiration from the great Divine, in developing his Drag Queen act. Hot tip, check out Pink Flamingos.

We do have some history with drag and burlesque in New Zealand. You may recall Carmen from Wellington who almost became Mayor. It may be a newly resurgent entertainment tradition, with Kita and Anita as leading lights.     

Rev Orange Peel    

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