Opening their show with the anthem
The choreography is appropriately statuesque to evoke a Las Vegas showroom and the matching costumes dripping with glamour.
The Fabulettes line up has changed a bit since they first formed, with only Vicki Vivacious (Aaron Johns) and Vanilla Lush (Martijn Smit) from the original cast. They are joined by Portia De Fossee (Steven Cleverly) and Silver Summers (Robert Houston) to complete the current quartet.
The numbers whizz you through the decades, making pit stops with Abba, Madonna, Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga, and although they have a slightly shaky start, the harmonies are as tight as their tucks. The choreography is appropriately statuesque to evoke a Las Vegas showroom and the matching costumes dripping with glamour. The show title Viva Las Divas is suitably justified.
A new addition to the act is stage mother, Sheila Simmonds (Richard Rhodes), a cabaret performer of some note having headlined in her own shows at Leicester Square Theatre. Another interesting introduction is Sam Buttery playing Sheila’s wayward daughter Samantha Billabong Simmonds. Buttery may be more familiar as finalist in season one of BBC1’s The Voice and scored great reviews in the revival of Taboo in Brixton 2012.
The Simmonds partnership adds bawdy humour to proceedings, Sheila producing an endless supply of Werther’s Originals from her ivory handbag to harangue the crowd and Samantha the stooge in barn door eyeshadow (but yet still delivers a stunning version of Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours). At one point Sheila appears in a sequined burka, bringing the house down with the line “It’s me... Sheila”. If the Simmonds girls were there just to cover the costume changes, then we were a very lucky audience indeed.
Predictably there’s a certain amount of audience participation, and tonight three men are pulled up on stage so we can vote who’s going to join the Fabulettes. David duly chosen and given a new drag name, he’s whisked off for a supreme makeover. You can probably guess the rest.
There seems to be an attempt at a narrative, with poor Silver Summers leaving the group only to be welcomed back at the end. But as Silver disappeared from before the first act had gone down and only made brief cameo appearances in the second prior to the finale, it did seem a little strange that she was excluded for so long, especially given the vocal talents on display singing Diamonds.
By the final number the entire Spiegeltent is on its feet. The Supreme Fabulettes’ act takes drag out of the gay pubs and provides the professional polish required to make it in theatres.