The Return of Ceri Dupree
OK, so let’s get one thing straight before we start, and believe me, this will be the only thing straight about Ceri Dupree’s new show Immaculate Deception currently running at Cape Town’s Gate 69 – Ceri may be a little tart but she’s not Cherry; as deliciously intoxicating as she is she is no Sherry, Chéri. Much like Liza with a Zee, she’s Ceri with a K like Kerry. So now we know how to call her by her name.
And with that of of the way, for those who don’t know, Ceri Dupree is one of the UK’s top female impersonators. He has been delighting audiences in Britain and around the world for almost 30 years with his non-stop, quick-changing, one-man, multiple-woman drag shows packed with energy and showmanship. Aside from writing and producing his own shows, his extensive musical theatre credits include Hello Dolly, The Wizard of Oz and The Rocky Horror Show. He famously appeared at Madame Jo Jo’s in London’s West End for two years followed closely by a three-year residency at Minsky’s Music Hall in Cardiff. Over the years he has impersonated almost every female star in the business in shows he has written, such as The Ceri Dupree Spectacular, Duprees a Crowd, Totally Frocked Up and Missleading Ladies, to name but a few.
Ceri’s latest offering for South Africa audiences has been billed as “a rollercoaster of stand-up comedy, gorgeous costumes, wigs, props, parody and song”, but that’s just the half of it. To call Ceri Dupree a female impersonator is to do an injustice to his art. He inhabits the characters. From the moment that Ceri first appears on stage as Dame Joan Collins, to the final number, a Hello Dolly tribute where he runs the full gamut of stars ever associated with this musical, from Carol Channing to Ethel Merman to Louis Armstrong to Barbra Streisand to Joan Brickhill, he has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.
The show is partly stand- up comedy review, interspersed with song. His impression of her Majesty the Queen is hilarious, but not nearly as funny as his portrayal of Camilla Parker Bowles, a cartoon caricature if ever there was one, horse teeth and ballooning jodhpurs to boot. His impression of Eartha Kitt singing Champagne Tastes, a popular standard for lip-synching drag queens everywhere, except that he uses his own voice, is one of the best I’ve ever seen. His Tina Turner is spectacular and the Peggy Lee sketch with the bouncing boobs had us in stiches. His rendition of Edith Piaf’s Non Je Regrette Rien gave me goose bumps. Cher’s tuck will give Trinity the Tuck Taylor a run for her money. No wonder he needed the interval to get into his Cher gear. It must have taken at least five minutes to get into each thigh high platform boot.
The highlight in a show full of highlights is undoubtedly the Dame Edna Everage skit. Here is a man impersonating a man impersonating a fictional made-up woman and it’s absolutely wicked. It’s all so Victor/Victoria. Veteran drag enthusiasts will know that there is an unwritten rule about never sitting in the front row of a drag show because you will get picked on. Well the rule book just got torn up because Dame Edna shamelessly picked apart the fashion sense of almost every women in the audience wherever they were seated. Nobody escapes the Dupree Treatment!
The whole Ceri Dupree experience leaves one with aching jaws from so much laughter. The quick costume changes were amazing. The jokes are bawdy but rely on innuendo, rather than being crude. Immaculate Deception is old school drag cabaret, an over-the-top touch of Las Vegas glitz, combined with Moulin Rouge class. The venue lends itself to the Vaudevillian, burlesque feel. The “Purple Palace” on Bree Street is the Mother City’s own La Cage Aux Folles, worthy of any cabaret anywhere. From being greeted on the red carpet by the Junoesque Cathy Specific to being waited upon by the Trolley Dollies, one is made to feel like a king, or in most cases on the night we attended, a queen. As a reviewer once said… “The frocks are fabulous, the wigs wonderful, the voice versatility itself, Ceri Dupree illuminates people rather than merely impersonating them, walking a fine line between character and caricature, never being anything less than hugely funny with sharp wit, human perception and high energy!!!” It’s a show not to be missed.
The last word belongs to Ceri who says, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!”
Immaculate Deception runs until 16 March, Wednesday through to Saturday.
Gate 69 – Broadway on Bree
87 Bree Street, on corner of Hout St
Tel: 021-035 1627/ 071 589 2915.
To book contact firstname.lastname@example.org
R520.00 to R599.00