Theater Review: Shangela’s ‘Straight Outta Paris’
Author: Deborah Nelson
Let me get it out of the way right from the beginning: Halleloo!
The last time Shangela appeared in New York City she was rolled out of a club on a stretcher, so Shangela isn’t just coming back to New York, she is TAKING back New York.
Hew new show ‘Straight Outta Paris’ is a mixture of comedy, sickening original songs and fierce dance moves. It begins with a flourish and the energy and comedy levels stay at super-charged “Shangie” levels throughout.
When Shangela broke her leg – onstage – in New York, on October 31, doctors told her that she would not be able to perform again until at least August. Well here we are, right at the beginning of August and she has just opened her one woman show in New York. She has been doing gigs since February, but this is her big return.
“I would be getting the assistance wheelchair at the airport but for the show that night I’d be able to perform on stage. It’s just the adrenaline and I’m a perfomer. I love to perform” she said. Plus, girl needed to make them coins – she had some parking tickets to pay – which she hilariously discusses in the show.
Shangela very graciously invited me to sit in on rehearsals and, during a break, spilled some tee:
[quote]This is my first big show in NY since I broke my leg here. It was at Club 57. I was in the middle of a performance. I did a leaping helicopter death drop and just landed the wrong way. They took me off in a stretcher through the club. I talk about it in the show. Everyone gets the “behind the scenes” story. It’s been nine months and I’m just thankful for everyone’s support.”[/quote]
Shangela is high energy both as a performer and in real life. She was not about to let a little thing like a broken leg keep her from doing what she loves. She has also translated this drive into starting her own management company for drag performers.
“I run a new management company called Say What Entertainment. We have two booking managers. We represent several drag performers including Laganja Estranja, Alyssa Edwards and, of course, Shangela. We now also represent April Carrion and Raven.” Those are some name performers – werk! The fact that these high profile queens have put their trust in Shangela shows that she is respected in the drag community as someone who gets things done!
This is not surprising given the early motivation her hometown, Paris, Texas inspired. “Growing up in Paris made you want to get the fuck out of Paris,” Shangela explained in the show.
In ‘Straight Outta Paris’ Shanglea compares the glamor of Paris, France to the down home realness of its sister from another mister, Paris, Texas. Paris, France has the Champs-Eliysees and the Louvre. Paris, Texas has a club called ‘Babydolls’ and an 8 screen movie theater. This is all chronicled during the show in her original song ‘Straight Outta Paris’ supplemented by video shots of all the hot spots.
Paris, Texas is also home to the fine dining establishments known as ‘Catfish King,’ which might explain where Shangela got her love of greasy food. During her recovery from her leg injury Shangela spent a month in the hospital, only emerging in time to walker her way to a Beyonce concert. As part of her healing, she was advised to say “Bye Felicia” to many guilty pleasures such as “hoeing” and greasy chicken. While Shangela didn’t see how interacting with two human thighs – and what lies between – might slow down her return to physical health, she did make a concerted effort to give up “two thighs and a biscuit.” She laments this process in the clever parody song ‘How Do I Live? (Ode to Popeyes).’
The funniest bit in the show is a true piece of potty humor. Shangela describes in hilarious – and full – detail the consequences of trying to be bougie and drinking a “Soy Vanilla Latte” from Starbucks. As many with soy intolerant people know, the results were not pretty… ultimately very clean, but not pretty. It’s a major ‘Case of The LaQuifa Wadley Blues’ (another song from the show).
Just as Shangela showed RuPaul – who sent her home on Season 2, only to bring her back as a contestant on Season 3 and for special guest appearances on seasons since – she is a resilient lady who knows that her destiny is ultimately in her own hands.
“It’s all about recovering, working on yourself and getting better,” she said. “Never let anyone deem what you can do. If you put the work in you can do it.”
Whether you are coming back from a broken leg, a broken heart or a broken dream, Shangie sets a good example of how to not let your spirit remain broken. She has the inner fierceness that promises longevity in the drag world and whatever other projects she takes on.
Shangela’s band for ‘Straight Outta Paris’ includes the incredibly talented CJ Emmons, and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ fans will recognize the music director and backing vocalist CJ (a singer from the ABC show). The third member of the entourage is Swang, who plays fierce strings and lends a cool and relaxed vibe to the stage.
Shangela’s ‘Straight Outta Paris’ will play several dates at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in August. Shows continue to sell out, but more dates are being added!
For ticket information visit SpinCycle.com.
For Shangela swag visit her website at Shangela.com.
To learn more about Say What Entertainment go to SayWhatEntertainment.com.