The Supreme Fabulettes continue their summer season, performing on Friday and Saturday nights, at the Leicester Square Theatre, London until 29 August.
Star rating: 4 stars ★ ★ ★ ★
In the last few years, The Supreme Fabulettes have secured their presence at the high end of the London drag scene. Decked out in the usual over-the-top outfits and make-up, the Fabulettes’ greatest selling point has always been the group’s tight vocal arrangements. The group’s 2015 show, Viva Las Divas, contains only minor tweaks from their previous Viva La Drag, but that only ensures an entertaining evening of campery and great tunes.
Presented as a fictional chronology of the Fabulettes’ career to date, director William Baker uses the structure to romp through various decades of pop history, with a number of medleys highlighting the troupe’s distinctive close harmonies. The original trio – Portia De Fosse, Vicki Vivacious and Vanilla Lush – are joined by Silver Summers. As the narrative progresses, there are band break-ups as Summers hits rock bottom while the other girls hit the big time.
This structure allows for plenty of digs at the usual musical biopic tropes, as well as an Act II opening sequence that sees the Fabulettes trio in prison after being framed by a vengeful Summers, and a fabulous interpretation of Chicago’s ‘Cell Block Tango’. But it also denies stage time to Summers, which after the show’s opening with the Fabulettes as a foursome seems to short change the audience a little.
There is some recompense in Act II, as the reformed, cleaned up Summers performs an outstanding mash-up of Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ with ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ and ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. None of the other Fabulettes gets such a chance to deliver such an exhilarating solo – and nor, one suspects, could they get the ovation that Summers deserves, and receives, for hers.
Providing a narrative through line, drag comedian Sheila Simmonds acts as the band’s manager, costume designer and mother hen, her stand-up routines explaining what little plot there is which allowing the Fabulettes time to get changed from one sequin-heavy outfit to another. New for this production, Simmonds has assistance from Sam Buttery as her daughter Samantha, which gives the show an anarchic boost.
The overall effect is of a slickly directed, closely choreographed evening that still retains enough rough edges to be charmingly endearing. While it would be great to see the Fabulettes perform to live music rather than a reliance on over-produced backing tracks, they nevertheless produce an evening of music and comedy that does nothing but please.