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Werq The World, Symphony Hall, Birmingham - review

By Rebecca Stanley | Birmingham entertainment | Published:

While the rain poured outside, eager drag fans were transported to another galaxy when Werq The World came to Birmingham's Symphony Hall.

The glittering tour has been travelling across the world featuring a series of talented queens from hit reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race, and last night the show arrived in the city to wow thousands of eager fans.

A countdown with flashing white lights marked the start of the show as the curtains flew open to reveal a sci-fi fantasy.

A large steampunk-inspired staircase stood next to a Star Gate-esque structure with a screen showing a swirling galaxy. Six hooded figures in Handmaids Tale robes of all different colours seemingly floated onto the stage, before revealing themselves to be Naomi Smalls, Monet X Change, Kim Chi, Kameron Michaels, Asia O'Hara and Aquaria of Drag Race fame.

Dancers in spacesuits pranced between drag royalty before one more person was revealed, the glamorous host of the evening, Drag Race judge Michelle Visage, decked out in a body-hugging pink velvet jumpsuit and shimmering silver trench coat.

The opening five minutes of this show were certainly a spectacle - and we hadn't seen anything yet.

Werq The World was a magical extravaganza that took us on a trip through the deepest and darkest depths of space through a series of exciting drag performances.

Season eight and All Stars Four queen Naomi Small kicked off the evening with a hair-raising and mind-boggling dance routine with a performer dressed exactly like her - it was like watching a goddess dance with their own reflection.

The captivating set saw the queen glide across the stage before ripping off her purple ruffle frock to twirl and vogue through the room, showing off her flexibility with a gravity-defying back bend.

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Magic

Naomi blended high fashion glamour with a quirky sense of humour in a bewitching performance that set the high bar for the night's events.

Appearing as if by magic from behind a veiled box, season 10 and All Stars Four winner Monet X Change followed this performance with a sugar-coated and sweet lip-sync routine to Magic To Do by The Players.

The energetic queen, dressed head to toe in a rhinestone-encrusted pink circle dress, danced alongside flapper girls before performing quick costume change illusions and disappearing to mark the end of her set.

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Monet is arguably best known for her quick sense of humour and acting chops, but she wowed the Brummie crowd not only with her charisma, but with her fast-paced and perfectly-executed choreography too.

"How are we all doing tonight Birmingham? I tell you, it's great to be back on English soil," Michelle Visage told the room, receiving a deafening applause.

The 50-year-old music star and TV icon was the perfect host for the evening. Her razor-sharp wit and warm demeanour added a laid-back edge to the highly stylised event. Her audience interaction had the whole crowd laughing, with one makeover and lip sync game raising the roof.

After all these fun and games, season eight superstar Kim Chi bundled us back onto the metaphorical spaceship and transported us to a green planet, made all the more real by the queen's eye-popping floral make up and flowing purple dress.

Her routine started as a slow and brooding lip sync to Jesse Ware's Say You Love Me, before her dress fell from her body to reveal not only a stunning glittering outfit, but four dancers ready to spring from the floor.

Like a lotus losing it's petals, Kim Chi metamorphosised from an ethereal being to a bold performer - and both states had the room screaming for more.

Daring

Who could possibly top this beautiful performance? Season 10 muscle queen Kameron Michaels, that's who.

From daring gymnastics to spear dancing, the tattooed beauty dazzled the crowd with her powerful moves, striking red costumes and effortless charisma that simply oozed from her.

In This Moment's The Fighter and Evanesence's Bring Me To Life accompanied the strong routine as red lights bathed the crowd in an ominous glow that had the crowd sitting on the edge of their seats.

Cooling us back down again from this red hot set, season 10 winner and New York dancing queen Aquaria pirouetted atop the Steampunk pyre in a floating feather gown.

As two dancers removed her fluffy cloak, she snapped into a high-octane routine as strobe lights bounced off her holographic bodysuit.

To make the set even more eye-popping, Aquaria was propelled into the air by wires as she performed a truly hair-raising aerial routine to the sound of Katy Perry's Walking On Air and Daft Punk's Digital Love.

Aquaria is well known for her impressive performances, but this short set topped even her most exquisite performances. She demonstrated an unrivalled level of strength and dance prowess that made for such a memorable moment of the night.

Ending the solo performances, fellow season 10 queen Asia O'Hara sparked excitement in the room during her electrical performance in which she twirled LED lights in the air to paint pictures.

Despite performing possibly the fastest routine of the night, Asia's dazzling smile or precise steps faltered, making for an eye-catching act.

The illusions the lights created received gasps from the room as each spin revealed a different picture including a rainbow, the Union Jack, and even Asia's own face.

The finale of the show was even more spectacular believe it or not - yet after seeing so many unbelievable performances, anything was possible at this point.

In a bemusing introduction, the queens places multi-coloured sceptres into a giant cog to reveal Michelle once more, dressed head-to-toe in a sumptuous golden gown fit for a queen.

The final number saw each of the queens, similarly sparkling in golden outfits, dance their own solo routines once more in a spirited routine to a mash-up of RuPaul's greatest hits.

Streamers rained on the dancing audience and cheers echoed around the room as the talented cast took their final bow of the night to a raucous reception.

There's simply too many amazing points of the night to praise, so I will just end on this - Werq The World was truly out of this universe, and I hope it beams back down into the region soon.

Rebecca Stanley

By Rebecca Stanley
@becci_star

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

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