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Review | To Wong Foo | Hope Mill Theatre | 28/10/2023

Hope Mill Theatre have a long history as being one of the best small/medium producing theatres in the country. After the monster success of ‘LIZZIE’ which has just transferred to the Southwark Playhouse, comes ‘To Wong Foo’.

Based on the iconic 1995 film ' To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar’, this musical was announced as being in development back in 2017. We follow established drag queens Vida Boheme (Peter Caulfield), Noxeema Jackson (Gregory Haney) as they embark on a road trip across the states with budding drag queen Chi-Chi Rodriguez (Pablo Gómez Jones).

Opening powerfully with ‘Feel The Light’ the fun and campy tone is well and truly set. We find ourselves at a drag competition where Gregory Gale’s spectacular costumes are given chance to shine, and shine they do with each and every sequin! As is so often the case at Hope Mill, every bit of space has been wonderfully utilised. The adaptable set design by Katie Lias has set pieces pulled out from walls, cast members appearing through windows and even a funky neon interpretation of a car! This is complemented by Dan Light’s video projection which transports us effortlessly between scenes and locations.

Gregory Haney is the clear standout, delivering lines with hilarious cynicism and sass. Having trodden the boards for some of Broadway’s biggest shows including Hamilton & Wicked, Hope Mill have once again pulled it out of the bag with top tier casting. The show really hits its stride in the second act when the queens meet the townsfolk, it just takes a while to get there. However, some of the funniest moments come when these secondary characters enter the story and they do so with so much heart.

Whilst I would have personally enjoyed delving more into the issues around racism and homophobia, this isn’t what this musical is trying to do. This is theatrical escapism, and it does this perfectly. To Wong Foo is a camp hug, bursting with heart and pride and is on until 17 December 2023..

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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