“Cookin’s a Drag” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – May 4, 2019


Hormel Theatre, The Phoenix Theatre Company
Phoenix, AZ

It’s rare for a world premiere musical to debut locally so there was interest in The Phoenix Theatre Company’s production of “Cookin’s a Drag.”  While enjoyable, well performed, and a breezy little entertainment, “Cookin’s a Drag” is not a musical destined to be a huge hit.

The show is a one joke story stretched out for way too long so the routine comedy get tiresome and repetitious while the predictable plot is so telescoped in the first few minutes that nothing unexpected happens to keep audience interest.

The opening night crowd reflected these criticisms when a capacity crowd shrunk dramatically after the intermission and less than half of the remaining patrons participated in the obligatory opening night standing ovation that was not immediate and not deserved.  Many who remained until the show’s conclusion, stayed firmly entrenched in their seats.

The show takes place on the set of Betty D. Licious’ foodie television show where the star has never touched food and spends her time taking glamorous poses in a succession of flowing gowns as she prompts her show’s bizarre inanity.  A foot stomping producer, Bradley, keeps Betty on the edge as he threatens various things if the star doesn’t pay attention to his demands.  A three boy chorus frames Betty’s on air silliness and comically talented Terry Summers portrays several inane characters including a dim-witted production assistant, Rosie, and Betty’s misguided Mom who thinks she had a son and not a drag queen.

It is too easy to figure out how the show will end and after an uninteresting show with no development, the end comes just as expected.  Clint Edwards music is unmemorable and the clichéd tunes drag the show out while adding nothing amusing.  There are a very few funny jokes here and there but there isn’t enough entertainment to sustain the piece.

D. Scott Withers is marvelous as he trounces around as a hefty Betty. Withers sings well and makes Betty a sadly enduring character who tries to be real. Talented Toby Yatso is wasted as Bradley with his predictable excursions into the action that furthers nothing.  The trio of Wesley J. Barnes, Eddie Maldonado, and Logan Scott Mitchell sing and dance through the show trying to add amusing diversions but better writing needs to frame their place in the scant plot.

Withers is funny but the obvious story with no bombshells and the bland songs can’t make “Cookin’s a Drag” anything destined for fame or fortune.  “Cookin’s a Drag” continues through May 19 when it will no doubt never be heard from again.  For tickets, call The Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: C