David Drake–the award winning writer/actor of The Night Lary Kramer Kissed Me–just appeared at the Laurie Beechman Theatre as his current creation, singer/chakra-pulser Tawny Heatherton, and the crowd ate it up like a Provincetown cupcake.
Tawny is the niece of ’60s sexpot Joey Heatherton, whom Tawny last saw at the Mohegan Sun craps table, where Joey was yelling “Crap!” and demanding to see the floor manager.
But while Tawny is a bit of an aging sexpot herself, she’s entered into a rich world of experience and wonder.
A bit ditsy but earnest and loving, Tawny recounts highlights from her career, whether it be her performance as a corpse on Dark Shadows at age four, her nonhit ballad “Paper or Plastic,” or her appearances on Hee Haw for the final season, when the laughs died.
But Drake has more than just show biz mockery in mind. As Tawny talks of visitations from AFOs (Angels Flying Overhead), Jesus, and the chicken from Hee Haw, it’s clear that she’s opened herself to the universe and connected with all its spirits and inspirations, both past and future. What results is a subtle, surprising theater piece with music, miles away from the resolutely earthbound drag shows you’ll usually encounter.
As directed by Robert LaFosse, Drake is funny and affecting, pulling off the impossible feat of creating a blonde character who’s terminally superficial and deeply profound at the same time.
After mixing standards like “Sweet Dreams” and “Roam” with original numbers while hitting a miniature tom-tom, she ended by singing “Wish Me a Rainbow” in memory of AIDS activist Spencer Cox, while choking back tears.
I wish Tawny some backup singers and lots more gigs!