The previouslies indicate that the major conflict this week will come between Adore and Courtney. Prepare for The Battle of the Idols!
The show wastes little time mourning for Vivacious. April seems the most moved as she wipes away Vivacious’s lipstick mirror message. But she’s also worried about being in the bottom two.
The She-Mail is extra punny this week: “Hey, Dream Girls. Now that you’ve had your Spring Awakening, it’s time to strap on your Kinky Boots and form a Chorus Line. And it better be Wicked good, otherwise it’s Bye-Bye Birdie.”
The queens are delighted, as they can guess the main challenge is musical theater based. It is. They’ll be performing Shade: The Rusical.
But first is the mini-challenge: “Female or She-Male.” One-by-one, they are shown extreme close-ups of celebrities and must guess if it’s a biological woman or a drag queen. A clumsy wig-line turns out to belong to Tyra Banks, while feminine lips are attached to Detox. In the end, Ben and Adore win.
Since they were both on the same Originals team, they have no obligation to choose their closest sisters. Ben clearly goes for talent, picking Courtney, then Bianca, then Darienne, then Gia. Adore picks Milk, Laganja, Joslyn, then April. Trinity is again the last person to join a team. “It is what it is,” she sniffs, as she moves over to Ben. The WTF of this is that people would rather pick Gia than April or Trinity. Goddess knows why.
Ben explains that her strategy will be to use each team member to their best potential. She casts Courtney as the ingenue (“Good Penny”), then asks Bianca to play against type as a pageant queen. Trinity is more comfortable playing safe, so she will also play a pageant queen.
We don’t hear Adore’s strategy yet. Possibly because she doesn’t have one. She does, however, have a voice and she’s not afraid to use it, singing her part loudly. Startled, Courtney realizes that they’re playing the same part and that Adore might outclass her in the vocals department. The editing makes it look like they’re having a passive-aggressive Idol-off. Cherish it. That’s as close to a fight as we’re getting — until Untucked.
Adore’s team rehearses the songs. It looks like Adore is taking input from her team members. At least, she doesn’t give April the butch queen role. Instead, petite April gets to play the “big girl.” Joslyn takes on the butch part, and Laganja plays the third showgirl, who apparently has no stereotypical traits. Adore, of course, is the lead — known as “Bad Penny.” Basically, Adore and Courtney are playing the same part. Adore compares them thus: “She’s very Disney, and I’m very Courtney Love.”
On Ben’s team, Gia’s bad singing provides some entertainment as the queens practice reading her in the confessionals. Then RuPaul comes in for a walkthrough. He learns that Trinity’s last musical role was in middle-school (“she played a tree!” cracks Bianca). RuPaul cautions them that they must work as a team, but that they must also strive to stand out as stars.
Adore is charmingly nervous about playing Penny. RuPaul reminds her to do her homework. When asked where she’ll draw inspiration to play a butch lesbian, Joslyn says she’s inspired by Bianca. There’s a quick reaction shot from Bianca, which doesn’t really convey any emotion and was probably shot three days earlier. But, hey, anything to build a conflict!
Ben’s team is the first to rehearse with Lucian Piane (the composer of the musical). There are many sound effects and music cues to suggest that Courtney is messing up. She isn’t, really, but Lucian suggests that she hold out the last glory note of her song. That seems like a note you wouldn’t need to give to an Idol finalist.
In chorus-girl news, Gia has trouble with the punch-line to her verse, and Trinity gets frustrated learning the choreography and starts turning into a diva. Lesson: Older queens are professional. Younger queens are insecure, immature, and can’t really tell jokes.
Then we get the Team Adore rehearsal. Adore sounds beautiful, but messes up a run at the end. Lucian notes that she’s shaky on the words and that when she messes up, she looks terrified. Joslyn tries out a deep basso voice as the lesbian, which doesn’t exactly play. “You have a very unique tone to your voice,” Lucian says diplomatically.
April is shown to be more of a problem, since she really can’t sing. “Adios mio!” April sighs, when Lucian critiques her “talk-singing.” She talking-heads that she has to be focused for her team. “I can’t be a Downward Debbie.”
Incidentally, the rehearsal pianist is Our Lady J, a transgendered singer/musician. Who was once rumored to be dating Daniel Radcliffe.
There are more rehearsals in the werk room and we see Trinity throw more hissy-fits as Courtney and Bianca try to work the dance steps with her. Gia comments that something is bothering Trinity, but they can’t stop for it, because there’s so much work that needs to be done.
On Elimination, the queens put their make-up on. Courtney and Adore share their Idol experiences. Courtney’s story is that she tried for the show as a boy. She was rejected. But she came back to the auditions the next day in drag, and got in. She was the first out gay person (and first drag queen) on any of the Idol shows. (Take that, MK!)
“I wish I could have done that,” Adore sighs. Darienne points out that Danny Noriega was the first obviously gay contestant on AI. (If you overlook Clay Aiken.) Adore recalls, however, that she was advised to tone it down. My ears perk up at the hint of confirmation about homophobic Idol practices, but in confessional, Adore says that the advice came from her mother. Who was afraid that Danny would be made fun of. Adore gets a little teary-eyed. “I wish she would have just let me go out there in pink hair.”
Gia then tells the others about her experiences doing Kabuki theater as a five-year-old. She even shows cute pictures of her in boy and girl costumes. But, she says, they didn’t tuck. It’s just a tradition in Kabuki for all roles to be played by men. Privately, Gia admits that she’s confident in her stage presence, but not in her singing.
RuPaul enters the runway in a chevron gown that Michelle Visage calls “Amazing and technicolor.” She’s wearing electric blue eye-shadow and earrings to match. Santino is still bald, but looks a little less zombified. The guest judges are Lucian Piane and Sheryl Lee Ralph, the original “Deena” in Dreamgirls.
The musical begins. Ben plays the “Shady Queen,” who also narrates the story. Courtney is “Good Penny.” Penny arrives in town and immediately meets two sets of queens: The Pageant Queens, and the Comic Queens. They want to know which group she is going to join. But then the Shady Queen tempts Penny to drink some fish oil, which will turn her into a star. At the end of the act, Penny gives in to the temptation and drinks the oil.
Milk takes over Ben’s role in the second act. Adore is the now “Bad Penny.” She’s a Diva, who is mean towards her lowly showgirl chorus. Behind her back, the showgirls complains with “Bertha” (April) plotting to leave and become a star herself. When Penny collapses from drinking too much oil, the showgirls step over her to take a spotlight.
But then the Shady Queen returns to sing a song about love and sisterhood. All queens (including those from act one), join hands to sing the final chorus.
Nobody in the show is terrible, that I can see. April and Milk are probably the worst singers. It’s more of a problem with Milk, because she has to sing an entire song. But she’s on time, even if she isn’t on pitch. April loses time and pitch, which messes up Joslyn and Laganja, who are singing with her.
The runway theme this week is “Tony Awards glamour.” Almost everyone is a little off, although there is many sequins. The Tonys is more of a velvet evening look — and often a more mature silhouette. Milk, as usual now, adds an extra bit by wearing a baby bump. She and Darienne are probably the most on-the-mark, gown wise. Everyone else is a little too flashy. More Oscars than Tony.
The Top Queens are Ben, Courtney, and Adore. Ben gets read by Sheryl Lee Ralph for the shoulder ornament on her red gown. “Take one thing off,” Sheryl advises. Hilariously, Sheryl’s praise to Adore is, “You could compete on American Idol!”
Although Santino calls Adore the MVP of the musical, Courtney is declared the winner. She gets two VIP tickets to Kinky Boots.
The bottoms are Darienne, Trinity, and April. Darienne, for not being as interesting as Gia (her partner Comedy Queen). Trinity for not being intelligible. She also displays some stankness during the critiques. And April, for not being “big” enough as the big girl. Lucian notes that April worked her ass off to get the singing down. Unfortunately, she just isn’t a singer.
The lip-synch is between Trinity and April. They perform to “I’m Every Woman” (Chaka Khan). I can’t really call this one. It looks very close to me. But RuPaul breaks my heart by sending April home. The moral is that hard work will not save you, if you lack talent. And stank attitude only matters to the television audience.
Lots of good stuff tonight. We start with the safe queens. They all figure that April will be in the bottom. MIlk points out that April worked hard to try and get her part. They ask Bianca what it was like working with Trinity. She replies that Trinity is twenty-two. The thing that bothers Bianca most is that Trinity doesn’t make eye contact. Laganja points the obvious, that Bianca has a sharp mouth. Which leads to the obvious reply that Bianca isn’t here to make friends.
Gia wonders if their runway looks were factored into the judges’ scores. Everyone looks pointedly at Milk. Milk says she was ready to defend her runway look,and Gia asks her to explain in, because it’s not drag to her. Joslyn calls Gia out, saying that she’s being ignorant. Gia, stung, says the judges should have read Joslyn’s hair. Lost in all this butchery is Milk explaining her aesthetic. The best we get is her saying that she’s “that crazy bitch at the Tony’s.”
The safe queens are called into the Gold Lounge to receive their pink, furry present. It’s a video-tape from Laganja’s parents. If you recall, Laganja started crying in the first Untucked, because she wasn’t as close to her mom since starting to do drag. Laganja’s mom confirms that, but says she’s working on that. They’re excited after having learned a bit about the show, and they want to see Laganja take that crown!
The whole video feels a bit scripted. Clumsily scripted. And very, very similar to a video that Laganja’s drag mother, Alyssa Edwards, watched in Season Five. Laganja becomes quiet. So the queens try to draw her out by asking about her relationship to her family — and Bianca tries to lighten the mood by saying she agrees with everything in the video, except Laganja winning the crown.
The others share their own family experiences. Bianca parents are fine with her doing drag, because they have five kids and by the fourth one, you just aren’t as invested. Milk’s mother is fine, but said, “Don’t tell your father.” Gia asks how Milk’s parents feel about her being pregnant, and there is a long, edited sequence of the queens laughing.
Laganja thaws a huge hissy fit. Like a spoiled little boy who has to share his birthday cake with guests. “It should have been about me!” she wails. She describes how it was supposed to happen (in her mind). The queens would be all sympathetic, and ask her all about her family, and she would have her moment. Instead, they made her very minor family drama into a common experience, and laughed it off.
They all apologize profusely, but Laganja refuses to be mollified. And, for the third time in as many Untuckeds, Laganja starts crying.
Meanwhile, in the Silver Lounge, there are queens with actual reasons to cry. Adore is confused by the judges. They called her gown cheap, but it’s the most expensive one she owns. April is well aware that she and Trinity will be in the bottom. Trinity is upset that the judges criticized her enunciation. She wears “flippers” (false teeth) in drag, and it makes it harder for her to speak clearly But she didn’t bring it up, because she realizes it’s pointless to argue when the judges have already made up their minds.
When the safe queens join them, Adore admits to Milk that she told the judges that Milk was controlling during rehearsals. We see flashbacks of Milk making suggestions backstage. Milk explains that she stepped in because she saw Adore getting frustrated. Ben swings the conversation away from that, by making a toast to which ever queen leaves tonight. Darienne asks them to leave a short mirror message, because they’re hell to clean.
April’s message is fairly short. She writes, “Love you girls. Echa! Pi Lante! Love, April.” She’s sad that she didn’t get to show all the runway looks she brought.