Drag queen Sasha Velour comes back to her roots with visionary performance

Back to Article
Back to Article

Drag queen Sasha Velour comes back to her roots with visionary performance

Photo Courtesy of Logo TV

Photo Courtesy of Logo TV

Photo Courtesy of Logo TV

By Eunice Alpasan, Staff Writer

Drag queen Sasha Velour told a story on the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts’ Colwell Playhouse stage on Saturday.

When she went to art school in Vermont, Velour was tasked to put on its first drag show. But what was expected to be a fun night of lip-syncing, the school instead got a full-blown two-hour drag queen murder mystery musical.

Velour’s performance of her first one-queen show “Smoke and Mirrors” exhibited a vision of high art and deception that was fitting to take up an entire theater stage, yet it included glimpses of vulnerability and rawness you could find watching a drag show at a bar.

It was also fitting the Urbana-native and winner of the ninth season of Rupaul’s Drag Race returned to her hometown to kick off her North American Tour for this show.

Velour’s first performance to Sia’s “Cellophane” was a hit of drama and alluring visual projections that blessed my eyes and had me leaning forward in my seat. Drag is art, and Velour was showing its very extent.

The lip-sync performances followed a theme of a quirky, glamorous, artsy magic show. Velour was self-aware in the show’s artifice as she explained after the opening performance.

The in-between talks Velour gave throughout the show about gender fluidity, first trying on drag a few blocks away from Krannert and life in New York kept the show personal and grounded in what would otherwise feel too removed.

Most of the lip-sync songs were released between the years 1956 to 1987. There was even a treat for Drag Race fans with Velour’s winning performance of Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional.” It was the type of performance that doesn’t quite have the same effect after the first time experiencing it.

The show’s layers of visual artistry and personal life melded together with the performance of Shirley Bassey’s “If You Go Away,” which included flashed pieces of Velour’s paintings on canvas. Velour said she first performed it in front of her mom in a Downtown Champaign bar shortly before she died of cancer.

Velour’s first one-queen show was visionary and personal. Bringing the audience back to her roots in Urbana, Velour remained humble and sincere to herself. But the art performed and displayed on stage spoke for itself.

[email protected]