Heels of Glory is an all-original show that brings various aspects of the cabaret community together for one big action packed drag musical, with names such as Topsie Redfern, Kiki Lovechild, Sarah Louise Young and many more involved. After years in the pipeline, the show is finally set to go ahead at the upcoming London Pride Festival. Jason Reid spoke to writer Tricity Vogue, and Topsie to get the lowdown.
Hey Tricity, tell us the brief premise of Heels of Glory.
Drag is a metaphor for lots of other things – finding your identity, being who you are and overcoming the forces trying to control you.
Heel’s of Glory is a coming-of-age story. Its heroes come from the LGBT+ world, but the show has universal themes of acceptance, courage and identity, underneath all the larking about. It’s very funny as well. How could it not be, with that cast?
I could give them a parking ticket to read aloud and it’d still be funny. And it’s not too rude, so it’s got a 16+ age limit, which means a whole new audience of baby drag queens can be welcomed into the fold.
Where did the idea/inspiration come from?
When I first created the cabaret persona of Tricity Vogue, I worked with a very talented and larger-than-life dress designer called Stephane St Jaymes, AKA Hollywood, who had a former life as a drag queen.
Stephane created my debut gown, and when I’d go over to his place for a fitting, he’d tell me the stories he and his drag queen friend Darcy liked to make up together about a pair of drag queens on the run, who used their drag accoutrements to make their escape; they could descend buildings by a rope concealed inside their wigs, and when they jumped through a pane of glass, they’d always leave a stylishly posed silhouette behind.
Richard Link was my singing teacher back in 2007, and one lesson I told him about Stephane’s fantasy drag spies. “That would make an amazing musical,” Richard said. “Ask Stephane what the rest of the story is, and whether he’ll let us use it.”
Stephane said there was no more story than that – they didn’t have a story, just a series of really fabulous scenes in their heads – and he said we were welcome to do what we wanted with the idea.
He came to watch our first rehearsed reading of the show in April 2012, and gave us his blessing. He said what we’d done was nothing like his old stories with Darcy, but he loved it.
There’s a real mix of performers in the show, from all genres of cabaret. Was it intentionally cast that way?
The mix of cabaret genres in the show has happened organically over the years, because Richard and I were both working in cabaret, so we got our cabaret friends and colleagues on board to help us out from the start.
It seemed to work, unleashing cabaret performers on a scripted story and letting them play fast and loose with the material, so we ran with it. We’ve now got cabaret, drag, musical theatre, comedy, burlesque and clowning all playing together.
As for the storyline, there’s a lot of mixing it up there too. That must be fun to play around with?
The ideas always been about mixing it up from the start, and the fun that offers up – what if drag queens were secret agents? It’s the incongruity of the two things that makes it fun.
Finally, why should people totter along to see Heels of Glory?
I talked this question over with Richard this evening while we were working on a new song for our villainess, Allura Supreme (played to the hilt by Sarah-Louise Young). He said, “It’s funny and touching.
It’s a laugh but it also speaks about the human condition. It has so much heart.” It also has great songs – glorious, full-fat singalong tunes, tongue-in-cheek naughty numbers, big ballads, and an all-singing, all-dancing finale.
It sends up all the action adventure clichés, but instead of violence and guns, there’s all the attitude, cheekiness and sauce of drag. It’s a comic book world come alive – a glamorous, larger-than-life world of goodies and baddies and sequins.
“When I first started on the cabaret circuit circuit, Tricity, one of the writers, asked me to audition for a development workshop of the show. I was lucky enough to be able join the team at that point and the rest is herstory.
I’m a total show girl at heart. My training and professional background is in Musical Theatre. This production is extra special because the writers and performers are all top notch cabaret artists.
My character is Splendorella – the most fabulous Drag Queen in the world. Gotta be typecasting, no?! Honey – a young drag wannabe – ends up onstage at the drag club ‘La Douche’ with Splendorella. Honey gets dragged (excuse the pun) into Splendorella’s dark world of addiction and dependency, a world where malevolent forces are working to annihilate every single Drag Queen in the world. No spoilers. Come and watch the show!”
• Heels of Glory runs at the Chelsea Theatre from 9-26th June