On Monday (March 9th, 2020) I finally got the opportunity to see one of my all-time favourite RuPaul's Drag Race winners Sasha Velour take to the stage, with Smoke and Mirrors. As her first one-Queen theatre show, audiences were expecting big things from her incredible mind, and boy did she deliver. Nobody knew exactly what to expect, but they did know she'd be giving a performance of a lifetime.
She opened the night at Manchester's iconic Palace Theatre with an emotional and heavily-visual feast for the eyes, delivering Sia's Cellophane with all of the passion and heart that it deserves. Velour immediately does away with stereotypical beauty standards, and it's a theme that runs throughout the night. On describing her art form - that of drag - she says, "All you need is drama."
Lip-syncs see her finally firmly planted in the spotlight, with a pair of monologues allowing her to get personal with the crowd, explaining her own story from young drag artist to world-famous Drag Race superstar. It's in these moments that she also forces her audience to embrace their own uniqueness, celebrating all that is queer and wonderful about each and every one of us.
Smoke and Mirrors was a show that had the hairs on my arms and back of my neck standing to attention from start to finish. I felt like I was part of a huge and inspiring moment for the LGBTQ+ community, and when Velour decided to give us all the opportunity to experience her series-winning lip-sync to Whitney Houston's So Emotional, I nearly stood on my seat to offer up my applause.
Later came a tribute to Velour's mother, who passed away following a battle with cancer. She's described as somebody who wore her heart on her sleeve, offering notes on Sasha's performances on how to improve whilst teaching her the importance of equality, identity and feminism. There wasn't a dry eye in the theatre as she stood up strong, lip-synced to Shirley Bassey and made her momma proud.
Unlike anything I've ever seen before, and surely anything I'll ever see again in the future, Velour has cemented herself as one of the world's leading queer performers, bringing a real sense of artistry to the world of drag. I shared a night with her I'll never forget, and for that, I'll be forever thankful.
Sasha Velour's Smoke and Mirrors tour will continue in the near-future, following postponements due to the novel Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).