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Deconstruction of a Drag Queen at Circle Circle dot dot

Shaun Tuazon's terrific performance shoots a sure arc through a production filled with highs and lows. He plays Michael, a super-bright student with a clearly-defined path: get top grades, go pre-med. at UCSD, then med. school, Hippocratic oath, heal humanity.

It's just that Michael feels another calling: become a dancer and, an even deeper one, a drag queen. From lockstep to free form's an astonishing leap, given his pre-planned life and the major obstacles he will face.

Tuazon has a a fragile innocence and an engaging presence. He also has a firm answer for the question that haunts biographies about performers: when Michael finally cuts loose as a dancer, will Tuazon? Oh yes. In the finale, in drag with a glittering pageboy wig, he lip-syncs Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and brings down the house.

His moves are fluid, expressive, and assured - a good thing, since playwright Katherine Harroff based her story on Anthony Diaz (stage name "Grace Towers"), one of the production's two choreographers (the other, Anne Gehmann).

Along with Tuazon, hot dance numbers carry the show. The stage becomes Stilettos, a "one-stop gender-bending performance designation." Though all in the cast contribute, Kevane La'Marr Coleman excels as a wide range of divas, from attitude-rich Utopia Pleneesha to a hilarious dancer in a TJ club plastered on fire-water.

The title uses the flashy D-word, but the script is grindingly linear. The first act shifts between pulsing musical numbers and cliched dialogue that over-explains even the obvious. The brief scenes move step-by-step. A less predictable, more efficient approach: begin with act two and back-story in the rest.

Circle Circle dot dot has an admirable mission statement: present works about specific San Diego communities. One scene does this so well I wish it were expanded. When Michael learns to dance in drag, other performers demonstrate how to and how not. The audience hears insights and useful pointers on appreciating a difficult craft and how individuals discover unique means of expression.

Melissa Coleman-Reed's splashy costumes, an uncredited array of wigs, and Matt Lescault-Wood's sound design serve the show throughout. One quibble: when Whitney sings "Wanna Dance with Somebody," when Coleman's Tina belts "Rolling on a River," and in other numbers the decibel levels are modest, almost tasteful. It wouldn't hurt to kick the sound up a tad to club, not just theater, level.

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Events December 9-December 10, 2021

Shaun Tuazon's terrific performance shoots a sure arc through a production filled with highs and lows. He plays Michael, a super-bright student with a clearly-defined path: get top grades, go pre-med. at UCSD, then med. school, Hippocratic oath, heal humanity.

It's just that Michael feels another calling: become a dancer and, an even deeper one, a drag queen. From lockstep to free form's an astonishing leap, given his pre-planned life and the major obstacles he will face.

Tuazon has a a fragile innocence and an engaging presence. He also has a firm answer for the question that haunts biographies about performers: when Michael finally cuts loose as a dancer, will Tuazon? Oh yes. In the finale, in drag with a glittering pageboy wig, he lip-syncs Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and brings down the house.

His moves are fluid, expressive, and assured - a good thing, since playwright Katherine Harroff based her story on Anthony Diaz (stage name "Grace Towers"), one of the production's two choreographers (the other, Anne Gehmann).

Along with Tuazon, hot dance numbers carry the show. The stage becomes Stilettos, a "one-stop gender-bending performance designation." Though all in the cast contribute, Kevane La'Marr Coleman excels as a wide range of divas, from attitude-rich Utopia Pleneesha to a hilarious dancer in a TJ club plastered on fire-water.

The title uses the flashy D-word, but the script is grindingly linear. The first act shifts between pulsing musical numbers and cliched dialogue that over-explains even the obvious. The brief scenes move step-by-step. A less predictable, more efficient approach: begin with act two and back-story in the rest.

Circle Circle dot dot has an admirable mission statement: present works about specific San Diego communities. One scene does this so well I wish it were expanded. When Michael learns to dance in drag, other performers demonstrate how to and how not. The audience hears insights and useful pointers on appreciating a difficult craft and how individuals discover unique means of expression.

Melissa Coleman-Reed's splashy costumes, an uncredited array of wigs, and Matt Lescault-Wood's sound design serve the show throughout. One quibble: when Whitney sings "Wanna Dance with Somebody," when Coleman's Tina belts "Rolling on a River," and in other numbers the decibel levels are modest, almost tasteful. It wouldn't hurt to kick the sound up a tad to club, not just theater, level.

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