Sum Ting Wong's 'Mulan Rouge' with Kitty and Ophelia || Drag Show Review #6
On Saturday, after a busy day of shooting something fun (more to come on that later on in the week) and lolling around in Kensington Gardens, I made the long trek down to Reading to catch Sum Ting Wong, Ophelia Love, and Kitty Scott-Claus performing at the Oakford Social Club. Did I mention it was in Reading? I live in Croydon. That, my dolls and darlings, is commitment. Especially because it took me a solid ten minutes to even find the bloody entrance to Paddington Station, and I had to run to catch the train back to Croydon at 1am. RUNNING. That’s almost EXERCISE. I tell you, the things I do to watch good drag.
And god, was it good drag. I never managed to get out to see Ophelia and Kitty’s show ‘The Two Nancy’s’ before the sad demise of Her Upstairs, and I’m so glad I made the journey down to Reading to see the two together on stage. The chemistry they share on stage is some of the best I’ve ever seen, and they are both completely ridiculous. Honestly, it has to be seen to be believed. But before we get onto those two giant ladies, first it’s time to discuss Sum Ting Wong.
I have to confess, this was the first time I’d ever seen her perform. I’d heard of her, and I knew she was incredible, but I wasn’t aware of just how amazing she is. A beautiful vocalist, she took to the stage in a beautiful blush, fur trimmed robe over big pants and a harness. Absolutely stunning. I also don’t know how she survived the night, it was so hot in the venue. I must confess now that I have also forgotten several of the things Sum Ting Wong sang because I forgot to record snippets of them, but I can tell you that everything was incredible. And she was hilarious.
The four songs I did record pieces of were ‘Defying Gravity’ from Wicked (which I do keep spelling Defying Gravy instead, which is the Sunday dinner based spin off no-one asked for), ‘Waving Through A Window’ from Dear Evan Hansen, ‘You’re Gonna Love Me’ from Dreamgirls, and ‘Never Enough’ from The Greatest Showman. Each song was better than the last, and I do love it when queens do showtunes because I’m more likely to know the bloody song. Clearly, my memory still isn’t that great. But Sum Ting Wong was. A truly incredible performer and songstress and you must get out and see her if you can, or at least follow her on the old social medias. Her interludes in interacting with the audience also almost made me cry with laughter.
The venue was a straight one, with a very straight drunk crowd. Excellent fodder for any drag queen, as long as they behave themselves. Almost immediately Sum Ting Wong began picking on a group of lads who were sat at the side of the stage, and didn’t cease for the rest of the evening. Poor blokes. I doubt they’ve ever been picked on by a drag queen before, and I doubt they will ever be in the position to be picked on again, but it was funny.
After a short break, it was back to the show and time for the Two Nancy’s to take to the stage.
And take to the stage they did. Doing their own tech - without any real issues, which is surprising - they started with their duet of ‘One Night Only’ from Dreamgirls. I’ve seen it before, and it’s always a vocal treat from both of the incredible queens. Also, I never knew that what I really wanted in a look is for a carwash to come to life and shimmy on stage, but that’s exactly what Ophelia gave us as she was dressed in a pink fringed jumpsuit. It was camp, and the more she shimmied the better it looked. Kitty was dressed in her usual smashing frock - blue cape dress - and looked like a right dream.
Throughout their set Ophelia sang three classic Ophelia songs (with lots of reverb). ‘Money Money Money’ by ABBA - camp. Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’ - simply delightful. Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ - the biggest shock of the evening, did not know she sang that one (although she did forget the words - and blamed that on Kitty - after saying it was the only song she knew all the words to). I genuinely love hearing Ophelia sing Amy Winehouse, it’s always utterly delightful and such a gorgeous song. It was a beautiful set from the beautiful queen of London, and an especial delight for the audience who had probably never seen her perform before.
Kitty treated us to a total of four songs - ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen (all the straight men in the audience truly enjoyed that little ditty), ‘I Need a Hero’, ‘2 Become 1’ by the Spice Girls with added sex education dropped in, and ‘Super Trouper’ by ABBA with backing vocals from Ms Love. Kitty is a truly beautiful vocalist and each song was a new delight. She also channelled her inner Ophelia and fully forgot the lyrics halfway through one song (was it the Spice Girls? I don’t recall), which is very unlike her. But for me, very funny. The two queens also finished out their set with a final duet, which is probably my favourite thing ever that they do together because I bloody love Les Mis - a mashup of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ with ‘On My Own’, which is not the happiest of performances but is an absolutely gorgeous one.
In between songs the two interacted with each other and the audience, which lent a completely ridiculous air to proceedings because neither of them are entirely normal. In Ophelia’s own words, it was much like seeing a larger Aquaria and Blair St Clair on stage - although much more camp and much more hilarious. Off stage, they are incredibly good friends which helps with the on stage chemistry, but they both command the stage and the audience in a way that is truly incredible and beautiful and everyone in the audience will have a good time when they’re around. Guaranteed. You would never be able to tell they went to drama school though, as Ophelia does her Hermione Granger impression, and Kitty does a rather camp Harry and Ron. Over the top, entirely ridiculous, and absolutely hilarious. A right treat, if you will.
The night finished with a spontaneous performance from all three queens, and this is where chaos truly reigned. They made the interesting choice to do a three way performance of ‘Satisfied’ from Hamilton - but without the pauses and backing vocals bit. Despite all knowing the words, it quickly fell apart as they (and truthfully, anyone in the audience who prided themselves on knowing the words) lost their place. It was funnier than it should have been, but was soon rectified by Sum Ting Wong declaring that the last three minutes had never happened, and putting on a different Satisfied track with the correct pauses, spoken bits, and backing vocals. This time, all went more according to (spontaneous) plan, and they muddled their way through really rather well. It was a treat to see Ophelia actually rap the part, rather than lipsync it (actually - her lipsync to Satisfied was the first thing I ever saw her perform and the majority of the reason why she quickly became one of my favourite queens).
All in all - an excellent night. Even if I did have to run for the 1am train. RUN. If you live in Reading, head over to Sum Ting Wong’s instagram and look out for the next night at the Oakford Social Club and get out to it. It’s camp, it’s fun, and it’s on a Saturday. What more could you want? Alternatively, if you live in London head over to Kitty and Ophelia’s instagrams and look out for their next performances. By this I mean get yourself to the next Apple and Pears show - it’s all ages and it’s got all the best. No excuses!