Review: Lena Hall

This show is all about auditioning, which Lena Hall has been doing from a young age, often as part of a teen musical theatre troupe. The present-day Hall sings beautifully in a spectacular range of styles – vocally she brings to my mind Christine Ebersole, which is a big compliment. Hall performs with a glee and verve that’s gotten her pegged as the rock and roll singing actress. She doesn’t mind that, but does mind a bit that it keeps her from the full range of roles she could own.

This show, entitled “The Art of the Audition,” features songs from shows that Hall auditioned for (City of Angels, Oklahoma!, Legally Blonde) and shows from which she took her audition songs (A Chorus Line, Follies, Die Zauberflöte). That’s right, she goes from “Dance 10: Looks 3” to Mozart’s devilishly high Queen-of-the-Night aria “Der Hölle Rache.”

She’s too self-depricating about the Mozart aria; she, in her own words, “nails it.” And for everything she turns her hand to, be it rock, classical or traditional musical comedy, shows her to be an actor-singer who is equally excellent at acting and singing, which is rarer than you might think.

Her singing, whether load or soft, is never anything less than full-throated. And her rapport with music director Brian Nash is warm and engaging, a very entertaining side show by itself. When she’s singing, no matter the style, she is an unquestionable fierce ruling diva. Overall, the show was a genuine pleasure, and Hall an immensely engaging performer. Recommended.

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see


Review: Paige Turner

To paraphrase drag legend Chad Michaels, Paige Turner is a professional, dammit! This showbiz spitfire’s current show Drag Me To The Top is thought out down to every second and every step, and yet never feels less than completely fresh. She’s also confident enough to be completely spontaneous – she can handle audience reaction with the best of them. If there’s a moment that doesn’t land like she wanted, she’ll be the first one to tell you, and then do it again, the right way. Plus, she never gives less than total commitment. You get the feeling that she’d give the same performance for an audience of one that she’d give for a full house.

Now lest all this sound too stiff, be assured that Ms. Turner is first and foremost a comedy queen, and often a very raunchy one at that. In fact, in an extended and hilarious slide presentation about the different varieties of bottoms, she involuntarily guffawed and happily blurted “this is so fucking stupid!”

She also is a first-rate singer, mostly in the service of the sort of relyricized song parodies that are the bread and butter of singing drag queens. She also plays a couple of songs completely seriously, and does some impressive belting that you might not even notice because it serves the moment in the song so perfectly. Now, that is professional! While she doesn’t do any complex or flashy choreography, she is in constant motion, and rarely relies on being downstage center to make her points. The director in me was absolutely tickled that this girl really knows how to use her diagonal crosses, bless her. One of the more enjoyable drag shows I’ve seen in a while, and highly recommended.

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see