Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical
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It’s a wonder that Anthony Wayne has any face left after singing it off so fiercely in his concert-style tribute to Sylvester. A queer disco icon in the ’70s and early ’80s, Sylvester’s gender-blending persona—he did radical drag early on with San Francisco’s subversive Cockettes—was matched by comparably androgynous vocals: a blasting, soulful scream stream in a high-flying falsetto. To pull this off for 90 minutes, as Wayne does (with a few breaks for numbers by four wonderful backup singers), is a Herculean labor of love, and Wayne’s cords stretch to meet the task. Strutting around the stage in glittering outfits, pulling high Gs out of the ether, he gives a thrilling diva performance, gutsy and joyous. Mighty Real might be more effective as a straight-up music show; between songs, it sometimes falls into sketched-in biography and borderline-maudlin sentiment. But the songs, including the exultant title tune and the saucy 1981 hit “Do Ya Wanna Funk,” comprise the vast majority of the night. Don’t bother resisting the urge to shake your seated booty as Wayne revives Sylvester’s gospel of mighty self-belief.
2014 theater review by Adam Feldman. Theatre at St. Clement’s (Off Broadway). By Anthony Wayne. Directed by Wayne and Kendrell Bowman. With Wayne. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.