I’m not sure what I expected when we arrived at the Park West Theater in Chicago to see Ginger Minj’s one woman show Crossdresser for Christ: The Musical. I knew it wouldn’t be like any other drag show I’d seen before and I knew it was her life story since she’d told us as much. But I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Before the show started, I stopped to ask about the green Glamour Toad t-shirt, the merchandise table was featuring. (I totally don’t already own two of them in different colors *cough*). The jovial gentleman working the table explained that the green shirt was only being sold during the tour and it was different…it had Ginger’s name on it! He clearly saw this fangirl coming.
Of course I bought one. Green is my favorite color!
He asked if I had heard Ginger sing before, and I said yes. He said if I hadn’t seen this show before, then I hadn’t heard anything yet. I was dubious. I knew Ginger could sing, that she didn’t require autotune, and that she had a strong theater background. But I soon learned I clearly hadn’t been aware just how talented this bundle of energy actually was.
The voice! Oh my God, the voice! The first song Ginger belted out with vibrato made my jaw drop. I sat there in the second row with my mouth hanging open like an idiot for most of the song.
Holy Hannah can this boy sing! I’m not talking average every-day singing either. I mean “hold his own against Idina Menzel” sing. He has the soulful tone of Barbara Streisand combined with the power and clarity of Jennifer Hudson and the Broadway vibe of Bernadette Peters. His voice is mesmerizing and beautiful. I could listen to Ginger sing all day.
If you’re still doubting Ginger’s musical talents, did you know he’s the only man approved by THE Stephen Sondheim to play Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd? True story! That’s pretty darn impressive.
Crossdresser for Christ: The Musical, chronicles Ginger’s upbringing in the tiny country town of Leesburg, Florida. A town so small “my family had the only tree that actually branched,” proclaimed Ginger. “There was a parade when they got a McDonald’s…around the building. They super-sized you each time you passed the drive through. You could do that then.”
Raised Southern Baptist, Ginger always felt out of place and found solace in musical theater. It was her savior. Her lifeline.
Peppered with hilarious improve with her backup singers and pianist (appropriately dressed in choir robes) and mesmerizing musical interludes, Ginger shared her journey to New York City, her stint as cutlery on Broadway, and eventual return to Florida. Her journey wasn’t without its hardships, but Ginger managed to push through. After auditioning for the part of a drag queen (which she had never done before) for an Orlando production called “Boys, Boys, Boys,” Ginger’s drag career was born!
This show is part stand-up comedy, part Broadway musical, and part sitting on your bed chatting with your best friend. I have never been brought to tears by a show before, but Ginger’s emotional performance had me, and nearly everyone else in the audience, wiping our eyes. Literal. Tears. Ginger shared her personal life, her ups and downs, her mistakes and triumphs. And in the process, she gave each of us a little bit of her heart and soul. It was magical.
I left the show feeling my love of the theater rekindled. As I drove home, I fondly remembered the days of singing “La Vie Boheme” at the top of my lungs and acting out Song and Dance in my parents’ basement. I yearned to be part of the theatre again.
Ginger Minj is heading off to Australia next week, but you lucky folks in New York can still catch Crossdresser for Christ at the Laurie Beechman Theater on July 19th. Tickets are available at http://www.spincyclenyc.com/
Believe me. If you only see one show this year, make it Crossdresser for Christ. I promise you won’t regret it!