Darcelle and friends take the (outdoor) stage
It's spring, and time for … an outdoor drag queen show?
Yep, creative types and promoters continue to find ways to entertain the masses in our COVID-19 pandemic world. So, out comes Darcelle XV Drag Drive-In, courtesy of Brandon Treadway and Treadway Events. It'll feature the great Darcelle, aka Walter Cole, along with her cast of drag characters that sing and dance and joke from the stage at Darcelle XV Showplace in Old Town, on a big stage at Zidell Yards April 9-11.
Darcelle's place has been closed twice because of the pandemic and government restrictions, but it's now open but limited to putting only two performers on stage at one time (socially distanced) and also with small crowd limits and other rules.
Enter the outdoors, and the performers will take to a much larger stage, 32 feet in length, with two 26-foot wide big screens, and sounds piped into vehicles via FM radio.
Poison Waters, aka Kevin Cook, has been a Darcelle's performer for 30 years, and it's a cool idea for drag queens to do an outdoor show, Cook said.
"Brandon Treadway put it all together. It's their event, but promoting our show — 'bring us a 90-minute show and we'll do the rest,'" Cook said. "It's been really, really exciting. We're expecting a big show where we're all on stage.
"We never would have thought of it. Old Town is not a place to set up a stage (for an outdoor show)."
Darcelle will be there, likely singing signature tunes "Rhinestone Cowboy," "The Rose" and "Send in the Clowns," and other performers will do familiar classics from musicals "Mame" and "La Cage aux Folles" and entertainers from Diana Ross and Elton John to Lady Gaga and Meghan Trainor.
"There'll be something for everybody," Cook said. "Darcelle sings live and the rest lip sync."
General admission tickets remain for the five shows.
It'll be fun to do such a show, Cook said, after the limitations on nights at Darcelle XV Showplace.
"We're thankful and happy to be open for what we can be. There is no shortage of customers," Cook said. Surviving the pandemic, protests and homeless issues has been difficult, Cole has admitted, but "we've always survived," Cook added. "People come back time and time again, and it shows the tenacity of the club."
Cook added that it's been a pleasure to work with Cole throughout the years.
Cook moved to Portland from southern California at age 11 in 1979 and, upon graduation from Parkrose High School, made a lot of trips via TriMet's Max to downtown Portland to meet new friends. He met Darcelle at a drag event and, as soon as he turned 21, Cook went to work as Poison Waters at Darcelle XV Showplace.
"(Darcelle) would say the show is the star," Cook said. But, Darcelle is the star.
"Darcelle is not really a diva. When showgirls come and go, they have a bit of attitude, because they're younger and skinnier. It doesn't take long for them to realize it's about the show. We entertain people from around the world, and we have repeat customers."
Cook said organizers are already talking about another outdoor show.
"No matter what, there'll be a handful of folks who are not ready to be out and about" because of the pandemic, he said. "We'll see how things go with this one."
Darcelle XV Drag Drive-In shows take place at 9 p.m. April 9-11 and 11 a.m. April 10-11. Early bird tickets are $75 per car and regular prices $95. For more: www.darcellexvdrivein.com.
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