This review of Jinkx Monsoon in Jinkx Sings Everything! at The Laurie Beechman Theatre was written by Stark Wilz and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Jinkx Sings Everything!
Written & Performed by Jinkx Monsoon (Jerick Hoffer)
Musical Director: Joshua Stephen Kartes
The Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd Street
New York, New York 10036
I remember seeing Jinkx Monsoon on Season 5 of Ru Paul's Drag Race. I rooted for her and was very pleased she won. I attended this performance of Jinkx Sings Everything! as someone's guest so I was doubly pleased to be there to enjoy what I anticipated would be a great show at the remarkable price of contributing $5.00 towards the tip. When Jinkx Monsoon first appeared on stage, I liked that she had on a very minimalist black tunic-style dress with black panty hose; her make-up was also relatively modest and classy (not your typical over-the-top, exaggerated choices favored by most Drag Queens). It indicated to me that her focus was going to be completely on the songs which she would actually sing instead of lip-sync. She didn't have any costume changes, no backup dancers, no window dressing. I felt certain her performance would be excellent.
Unfortunately, she disappointed. She started the show by explaining "the rules" -- basically saying she'd take requests and therefore should be forgiven if she had occasional mix-ups concerning her memory and the songs' lyrics and melodies. She pointed out that her pianist was incredible and had a perfect memory and would help her get on track if any mistakes occurred. Unfortunately for Jinkx, her amazing pianist could not protect her from massive lapses in memory and voice quality. I was stunned by the number of "flub-ups" that Jinx suffered. It was also noteworthy that she didn't really take many requests -- she kept simply singing what she wanted, indicating that she was "in charge" and could sing whatever moved her. Contradicting herself further, she pointed out that many musicals (including classics such as The King & I and South Pacific and whole time periods such as the 1950s) were off-limits and she would exercise her discretion about which shows she would or wouldn't agree to sing from. It seemed very self-serving to me, and her boastful claim she'd take requests from the audience ended up being hollow and untrue.
She shouldn't have eaten the French fry early in the show, we can all agree on that - but whatever the case, you can't blame her amateurish performance on food stuck in her throat. In my experience, audiences do not like it when the performer apologizes for his or her mistakes and poor delivery; people who pay good money to watch a show do not want to hear rationalizations for problems with one's voice and so forth. Jinkx apologized and rationalized throughout her show. It made me uncomfortable. And worse, it served to compound the difficulties she was having hitting notes and remembering lyrics. Her constant clearing of her throat (very un-ladylike), gargling water and talking about the French fry only put emphasis on the performer's mistakes. It showed a lack of professionalism.
Of course, Jinkx's comedic sensibilities and talents were evident -- and I actually enjoyed the show on balance. But I would've felt differently if I had paid a $22.00 admission fee and been required to buy two expensive drinks to meet a required food/drink minimum purchase. I actually felt sorry for Jinkx. I'm pretty sure she was aware of how awful her performance was. I am sure she can deliver the goods and perhaps I caught her on an "off day." Nonetheless, consistency is one of the chief hallmarks of a "pro."