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Heels of Hell Halloween Tour, O2 Academy, Birmingham - review

By Rebecca Sayce | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

It may not be Halloween quite yet, but last night Birmingham's O2 Academy was turned into a spooky paradise as a series of RuPaul's Drag Race queens descended for the Heels of Hell tour.

Heels of Hell

The entire crowd knew this was no ordinary drag show from the opening act, as dancers and drag queens performed to classic hits from the Backstreet Boys and Lady Gaga.

With precise choreography, glittering costumes, comedy props, confetti cannons, and aerial work - Heels of Hell was dazzling from the very first performance.

A real highlight of the introduction was a lip-synch performance of Defying Gravity from Wicked, which saw one queen suspended above the stage as the wicked witch Elphaba.

Dublin queen Victoria Secret was the compere for the first half of the show, warming up the crowd with her razor sharp wit and glamorous costumes.

With no formal introduction, Drag Race season four winner and the self-proclaimed 'queen of Halloween' Sharon Needles crept onto the stage, in a haunting costume depicting Marilyn Manson on the cover of 1998 album Mechanical Animals.

The 36-year-old queen performed a variety of different songs, from Manson's hit single The Dope Show through to Ministry's Everyday Is Halloween and her own Jack-O-Lantern. She demonstrated an impressive vocal range as well as putting on a truly hair-raising performance as she jerked across the stage and snarled at the cheering crowd.

Next up was RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars Two winner Alaska, who had the crowd laughing from the moment she stepped on stage in an Elphaba costume - now where had we seen that before?

She presented a comical rendition of Celine Dion's All By Myself - complete with off-key notes screamed confidently into the microphone as she swept the stage with a broom.

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The comedy queen oozed charisma every moment she was on stage, and had an immediate connection with the crowd. Whether she was getting us to holler her trademark 'hiieee' introduction, or getting everyone to scream for the next act, there wasn't one person in the venue that wasn't engaged in her performance.

Drag Race season five contestant Ivy Winters may have taken a break from the spotlight, but last night she displayed star quality in abundance as she twirled and kicked across the stage while singing a sublime cover of Cliff Richard's Devil Woman, to rousing applause from the crowd.

Described by Sharon as 'the most punk queen that has competed on Drag Race', Willam stole the first half of the show as she rolled onto the stage on a hoverboard.

The queen had the whole room laughing from the start of her performance to the end - though whether that was because of her comedy song about Britney Spears impersonator Derrick Barry, or because she fell off her hoverboard only moments into her set, is debatable. Regardless, Willam was absolutely captivating to watch.

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She was quickly followed by season five winner Jinkx Monsoon, dressed in my favourite costume of the night as Mom from hit cartoon Futurama. The 31-year-old artist vogued across the stage to the likes of If You're Good To Mama from musical Chicago, through to RuPaul's Call Me Mother.

The performance was utterly bizarre, and showcased without a shadow of a doubt why the queen won her season of Drag Race. Jinkx is a versatile performer, and can turn her hand expertly to comedy, singing, and dancing at a moment's notice.

Season Four and All Stars One contestant Latrice Royale can be described using only one word - glamorous.

And last night, the big and beautiful queen graced the stage in a glittering gown complete with a jaw-dropping gold crowd and fiery red wig. The 46-year-old performer appeared to float across the stage as she lip-synched and danced along to the likes of Lana Del Rey's Young and Beautiful as well as Lorde's Royals.

She upped the ante with Fergie's A Little Party Never Killed Nobody, which saw the queen energetically prance across the stage before dropping into the splits.

She did all of this without a single strand of hair or accessory straying out of place, demonstrating the sheer passion and professionalism the queen pours into her acts.

The second half of the show saw Sharon take on the role of compere, something she did brilliantly as she weaved sentimental anecdotes and dark jokes into each segment.

Season Nine and All Stars Three contestant Aja wowed the crowd with her impressive rapping skills and killer dance moves that have made her such a hit with Drag Race fans.

Through renditions of her tracks Brujeria, Finish Her, and the brand new Demons, Witches and B****** - the 24-year-old star dazzled the crowd with her lightning-speed bars and high-octane dance moves that never lost momentum.

Alaska took to the stage once more dressed as Miss Argentina from Beetlejuice for a beautiful cover of Lady Gaga's Paparazzi, demonstrating an impressive tone and vocal range throughout.

Next up, Ivy walked onto the stage on towering stilts to the sound of shocked gasps from the crowd. She ripped off her glittering cape to reveal a butterfly costume, complete with delicate wings that she swirled around her body to a lip-synch routine of Little Mix's Wings.

The routine was equal parts shocking and beautiful - Her movement was fluid and captivating, while her circus skills were death-defying and exhilarating.

Jinkx Monsoon, dressed as American Horror Story's Myrtle Snow, impressed once again with a heart-wrenching cover of Skeeter Davis' The End of the World, followed by Willam suspended above the crowd performing a cover of Shallow from A Star is Born, a film that the queen also stars in alongside Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

Closing the show was Latrice, showcasing her lively dance moves once more with a comedy routine to The DJ's and Franklin Fuentes' Xcuse Me. The sheer energy in the performance got the crowd moving along with her, ending the show on a palpable high.

Packed full of thrills, chills and laughter aplenty - the Heels of Hell Halloween tour certainly didn't disappoint.

Rebecca Sayce

By Rebecca Sayce
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.sayce@expressandstar.co.uk

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