Velma Celli you’ve done it again with your latest show Equinox.
Completely under your spell and I know I’m not alone in this regard!
5 worth casing stars out of 5
As a general rule, I never ask stars for photos and I don’t do queues. There aren’t many people or things in this world that would entice me to arrive super early to be at the front of the queue. Oprah when I was invited to her Sydney appearance at the Opera House, the Lindt Chocolate Shop opening when there’s a kilo of free chocolate on offer and…. last night it was very much Velma Celli for her latest show Equinox. So much so, that I lined up for a photo afterwards. Something Oprah didn’t achieve.
For those not in the know, Velma, UK’s Queen of live vocal drag, is the alter-ego of West End star Ian Stroughair. Stroughair has appeared in hit musicals such as Cats and Fame and most recently, received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Angel in Rent and I’ve been under his spell since he first appeared at Fringe World Perth last year.
Equinox is Velma Celli’s brand-new cabaret show. Following the wild success of her previous show A Brief
History of Drag, this new show celebrates Velma’s life-long obsession with witches. Through song, stories
and spiel we visit all of our favourite witches from theatre, film and pop culture.
Truth be told after Velma’s A Brief History of Drag performance last week (REVIEW HERE), the little spare time I’ve had this week in between Fringe shows, reviews and playing the solo parent gig to three with hubby away at sea, I’ve spent trying to jiggle my schedule, so I could slip in more Velma.
That’s not to say there aren’t 19 other Fringe shows on my wish list, that I’m probably not going to find time to see and countless others that have flown under my radar because I honestly haven’t had time to go looking too hard. It’s the intoxicating and infectious energy in the room when Velma is performing, that has me, once more, completely under her spell and desperate for more.
A more intimate and slightly longer affair than the show before, something Velma’s growing fan base has been craving, I know Equinox is going to go from strength to strength. Having walked away from opening night, even more impressed, after this Perth and I believe world premiere, I’m even more in love with UK’s Queen of live vocal drag and the man behind Queen Velma.
I was equally impressed with the show’s pianist, Joe Louis Robinson, who also provides backing vocals with just the one other backup singer. Both equally talented in their own right and both appearing to be having far too much fun working alongside Velma, it hardly seems like work. I can only imagine, had the production gone ahead with the original and more rehearsed backing vocalist lineup, I would have been even more blown away.
Aside from the absolute killer vocals, Velma sprinkles her drag queen charm across the whole room. It’s this charm and Velma’s evocative nature that means the show is as engaging as it is entertaining.
My only disappointment last night… there really wasn’t a chance for a standing ovation and I wanted that chance. Velma was, however, more than generous with her time directly after the show, with everyone that lined up to get a moment more with the Queen.
If time allowed, I could easily front up night after night for more. I suspect much like A Brief History of Drag or a fine bottle of red wine, this show is only going to get better with time and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Also seriously hoping that Velma returns to Perth next year or Ian follows in Ben Elton’s footsteps and finds his soulmate in Fremantle and NEEDS to move here permanently. Off now to find out if Ian is actually single and if so, possibly do a little magical match-making because Perth needs more Velma Celli.
VELMA CELLI… Come over here.
I need you tonight.
Cause I’m not sleeping.
There’s something about you girl, that makes me sweat.
So slide over here and give me a moment.
Your moves are so raw, I’ve got to let you know, I’ve got to let you know…
You’re one of my kind.
If you’re looking for a show that will leave you star struck and in awe, look no further than Velma Celli’s: A Brief History of Drag. Known as ‘The UK’s Queen of Live Vocal Drag’, Velma Celli’s outstanding talent, theatrical sassiness and razor sharp wit certainly does not disappoint. From start to finish, Velma provides spine-tingling, tear-jerking, jaw-dropping vocals, perfectly paired with her incredible showmanship and entertaining persona.
David Bowie, Queen, Gaga and Priscilla fans rejoice – Velma’s versions of these iconic artists’ music will get your toes tapping, fingers snapping and trust me, by the end of the night, you’ll be up dancing. To say that her killer vocals and stage presence blew the audience away would truly be an understatement. When Velma sings, it makes you feel as if you’re about to spread your wings and soar. It would be safe to say that everyone in the room was grinning from ear to ear – how could you not, when such undeniable talent is embraced and nurtured to the point that truly, a star is born? Better yet, she’s come to Perth and you’ve been given the honour of getting to experience her talent live in an intimate performance, just metres away from where you sit. Having had years of experience in high end musical theatre, a range of gigs and various sell-out shows, it’s no wonder the queen truly enchants everyone as soon as the first notes leave her mouth.
More than just a drag queen with heavenly vocals and vicious humour, it’s clear that behind the act, Velma is a brilliant character with amazing emotional strength. The show didn’t just consist of risqué jokes and salacious sassiness – there were moments of raw honesty and eye opening stories, as well as beautiful music with lyrics that hit you straight in the heart. Her rendition of ‘I Am What I Am’, originally by Gloria Gaynor, combined with stories of previous hardships were enough to bring the audience to tears. The strength and perseverance conveyed was awe inspiring, heart wrenching, and gave the audience the opportunity to form a genuine understanding and connection to Velma’s true self.
Supported by incredible pianist Joe Louis Robinson, sleek guitarist Harry Love, gorgeous songstress Eliza Jackson and drummer Jasper Miller who never missed a beat, this incredible team of artists are definitely a force to be reckoned with. Do not miss out on this incredible cabaret/comedy show – for a night of incredible entertainment from start to finish, you just can’t go wrong with Velma Celli.
The Fourth Wall
We all love a good drag show and when one pops up that is defiantly different, first we raise an eyebrow and then embrace the new with open arms.
Velma Celli, aka Ian Stroughair, delivers a novel new show that is honest and bona fide authentic. More importantly it is his own personal story as a musical theatre artist and journey into solo performance.
While working in the West End on endless Chicago performances he goes out one night in drag with cast members from Priscilla Queen of the Desert. He finds himself singing his heart out at Karaoke night, at a bar where he is instantly hired as a regular drag performer. Yet to have a drag name, the night ends in Chinatown – while slurping on his noodles he comes up with Velma Celli (vermicelli).
Velma Celli is stripped back, short cropped hair, high-heels and a glittery slip dress belting out torch songs with passionate zeal. He carries a distinctive low -key style that is so fashionably camp with stories of life on the road.
His love of pop music is evident with his song choices, and his inspirations are gained from the rock greats like David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. Celli feels the pressure and is determined to give his best; he is tenaciously unbreakable. He challenges his vocal range with a collection of song medleys from Whitney Huston, Cher and Anastasia. His back-up singer Eliza Jackson and pianist Domenic Woodhead add to the cabaret like ambience.