Purple Room Reign
Michael Holmes rules as Judy Garland
By Kevin Perry
Imagine if the Rat Pack were gender fluid. Samantha Davis Jr. croons charismatically onstage as Jean Martin swills gin with her gal-pals, all while Fran Sinatra maintains a stranglehold on her queen bee status at the VIP booth.
It’s not such a difficult scenario to envision when you’re in the marvelously manicured clutches of Michael Holmes.
Eras collide in his Purple Room, the forbidden love child of 1960’s chic and present-day cheek. Holmes embraces the show(wo)manship of bygone decades by donning an arsenal of wigs to become Bette Davis, Pearl Bailey, and headliner Judy Garland… in all of her inebriated glory.
One-liners abound in this catty cabaret, with quips such as, “She couldn’t be more of a b*tch if she had a litter of puppies.” Judy assigns audience members various Hollywood personas, like strawmen in her ongoing catalogue of celebrity feuds. For example, one woman in the audience is cast as Doris Day, with whom Judy shares no love loss. Pillow Talk quickly becomes smack talk, and the crowd guffaws as Garland shreds Day apart, from her well coifed head to her goody two-shoes.
Judy also hoists several volunteers from the crowd to enact a battle of the sexualities onstage. One gay man, one straight bro, one hetero woman, and one lesbian face off in a tambourine battle royale. Her only diva directive: make it sexy. The audience chooses the winner, but the real victor (Victoria) is always Ms. Garland.
In addition to the booze-soaked comedy, Michael Holmes pours on the charm in musical form, belting out hit after hit with vaudevillian aplomb. S/he rings them bells, gets jolly with the trolley, and drags you over the rainbow, repeatedly interjecting punchlines with her signature sulfuric wit. Your toes tap as your sides split, and finally the journey is complete: you have been transported to an alternate history with Judy Garland as your misguided guide.
So click your heels together and follow the yellow brick road to the Purple Room, because there’s no place like homo.