Promo images courtesy of JD Urban, live images by Matthew Rettenmund for BoyCulture.com
BOY CULTURE REVIEW: ***1/2 out of ****
I still wasn't being allowed to see R-rated movies in 1984 when Prince's Purple Rain came out, making him seem like Jehovah's gift to the multiplex, and I was probably a bit protective of my diva Madonna due to Prince's chart-busting achievements with its legendary soundtrack. But as an American Top 40 freak, I was acutely aware of the many hits the record launched...it was like Minneapolis spooged all over Billboard.
Flash forward 30 (!) years, and I'm seated in 42West (514 West 42 St., NYC), watching Dearly Beloved, an anniversary tribute to the album (and the film), directed by Jacob Langfelder and starring Robin de Jesús (as Prince—I don't honor the whole Artist Formerly Known As thing) and Lena Hall (as Apollonia), and with featured performances by E. Clayton Cornelius, Kiyan Taghaboni and Ariel Bellvalaire.
The show was a straight-up revue, but certainly wasn't karaoke. De Jesús suggested Prince without copying him exactly, sounding perfectly confident in every number, with the possible exception of “When Doves Cry”, with its odd, nasal vocal, which proved a little too offbeat for him to nail.
Hall, looking the opposite of her male Hedwig and the Angry Inch character in her bustier and Katy Perry via Bettie Page glamour makeup, soared in her numbers, making even the delightfully sugary “Sex Shooter” sound like a whole different animal coming from such powerful pipes.
The audience was mesmerized by the whole thing, especially de Jesús's libidinous writhing—it will be hard to see him in his In the Heights mold after witnessing this transformation.
The show felt like a try-out for a more elaborate, sung-through musical based on the already very musical movie; if that's the case, I think everyone involved proved it's an idea worth exploring.
After the jump, check out the original “Sex Shooter”...