One of the most provocative and certainly the most original show of the past holiday season was called Arias with A Twist at Redcat Theatre in Disney Hall. The show is a collaboration between renowned drag and performance artist Joey Arias, and a wildly imaginative puppeteer named Basil Twist.
Joey Arias, a primary (and primal) player in New York’s underground, is said to have helped recreate drag performance as high art. He has performed all over the world and is noted for his impersonation of the raspy vocal stylings of Billie Holiday. For the past several years he has acted as “Mistress of Seduction” for Cirque du Soleil’s sexy Las Vegas show Zumanity.
Mr. Arias's pairing with Basil Twist is pure genius. Basil Twist is a well-known third generation puppeteer who has wowed audiences at major venues like Lincoln Center, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and now in the smaller but no less impressive Redcat Theatre. Mr. Twist and his gang of puppeteers created a magical world suited to Arias in its wildness and, well, twistedness.
Arias takes us on a journey through alien abduction, encounters with anatomically correct puppets, a Garden of Eden, and a walk around New York with Arias as a 50-foot woman. It ends with a production number worthy of Busby Berkley with a chorus of chorus girls dancing in formation.
Basil Twist intends to stage other puppet imaginings in Los Angeles in the near future.
This show may not have been your typical holiday fare, but it will remain with me far longer than any Christmas Carol or How The Grinch Stole Christmas, enjoyable as such shows can be. I was happy to surrender myself to this wacky, weird, wonderful, innovative production.
Arias with A Twist played at the RedCat Theatre in late November and early December.