REVIEW: Expenses Only – The Musical @Phil Starr Pavilion

Brian Butler February 24, 2018

In the good old days when I did stage plays and musicals we used to reckon that you needed one hour of rehearsal for every minute of actual playing time on stage when the show played.

So it was incredible to learn that the talented singing line-up in this new show by Andrew Stark had just four days before they opened for one night only in a production lasting well over 2 hours.

So of course it shows. With more rehearsal, tightening of the script, quicker take up of cues it is a great new show in the making.

That said, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable trip through the lives of 6 drag queens and a tv talent show one hit wonder woman as they bicker and bitch backstage at a charity Pride event.

There are many enjoyable  moments in its duets, trios, quartets and ensemble numbers, many of which are both funny and sad – particularly a trio where we find out about three of the drag queens’ first gay lovers.

Outstanding for me were two performers – Jon Hughes, aka Sally Vate as an over-the-top Texas diva who has a unique routine with a tambourine that is truly hilarious. But even she is outshone by the wonderful Christopher Howard as a vicious old queen who was a great performer yesterday or maybe the day before or the day before that.

As Phil he can make us laugh, wince and pull at our heartstrings when he sings of lost love and a shattered career that’s led him to the vodka bottle. His tour de force is My Big Show Song which cleverly interweaves the lyrics from dozens of famous musicals.

The cast is strongest when singing as a group and as they say We are all different in a life-affirming anthem to their gayness.

Mention has to be made of Eva Iglesias who belts out her numbers with great style and at times wonderful exaggerated humour.

Performed as part of B RIGHT ON LGBT Community Festival of events celebrating LGBT History Month – it must get another outing as a show and deserves a wider audience.

Brian Butler