The atmosphere of the venue of a live performance is often overlooked when someone reviews a performance. Critics, myself included, like to focus on the performers themselves and decipher whether their pitches were crisp, rhythms were tired, or conduct was off-putting.
In the process, critics ignore one of the main reasons why live performances are superior to a canned record. The space takes on a personality of its own, influencing the events which take place in the venue on multiple levels.
The “feel” of the venue is the only thing typically discussed in a performance review. Smaller venues are often called, “intimate,” whereas large venues offer ample opportunities for boisterous crowds.
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Combining these ideas of “feel” along with the venue’s event schedule, Majestic still reigns supreme as the premier performance venue in the growing Madison arts landscape.
Friday’s programming, consisting of a “Brew n’ View” screening of “Legally Blonde” and an Ariana Grande-themed drag party, titled “Thank U, Glitz: A Drag and Dance Party,” distinguished Majestic’s place further.
Majestic is a transformative venue which allows a variety of events to seem equally welcome in its confines, unlike the harsh, industrialized Sylvee. Built in 1906 as a vaudeville theater and functioning as a movie theater and dance club at different points in its history, the venue’s relatively recent conversion into a performance venue kept its historic warmth.
A bare lower level can be a dance floor just as easily at it can be a mosh pit. The bare-bones seating in the balcony at its worst provides a welcomed respite from standing-room only concerts for free, which isn’t exactly possible at its sister venue down Livingston.
I sat in the top for the “Brew n’ View” Pre-Party to kick off the evening, cozying in a corner while watching my girl Elle Woods get her JD from Harvard and prove Warner and Callahan wrong. Other patrons who are not one month shy of being 21 have ample opportunity to have these events live up to their name with the venue’s bar open throughout the screening and tables available for mingling with friends.
Honestly, I was a little unsure why I would pay a solid bit of admission to see a movie which up until a few weeks ago was available to watch for free on Youtube when I arrived. The space allowed for the audience to feel communal and free, however, which gave all the more reason to laugh at the comedy in the film and really listen for all the small, quirky details.
After the film, the venue transformed from a screening theatre into a dance club for “Thank U, Glitz.” This feat was quite simple. Event staff took down the folding chairs used for extra “Legally Blonde” seating and, with the help of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” set the tone for the drag-filled dance party. All of the queens were local talents, with Bianca Lynn Breeze serving as the evening’s emcee. Breeze’s light-hearted tone welcomed guests and entertained them throughout the night.
With the night’s theme, each of the five drag queens had to perform one lip sync to an Ariana Grande song in addition to one to the pop song of their choosing. This led to a night filled with well-known pop selections the audience could also sing along to. A special performance came in the second set, where the queens emulated Grande in her “Thank U, Next” music video by donning the iconic “Jingle Bell Rock” dresses from “Mean Girls.”
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Breeze, Karizma Mirage, Bryanna Banx, Kayos Mirage and Regina Lynn Taylor all gave high energy performances in between periods of live dance floor time, contributing to a successful party. Particularly, Breeze’s “drag daughter” Taylor crafted an extremely energetic performance which involved heavy floor work. Karisma Mirage exuded a sense of mystic fantasy throughout her performance and commanded her time on the stage.
It’s simply impossible to imagine Friday’s double bill anywhere else but Majestic. It’s success speaks to both the dedication and energy of the talented drag performers as well as the cozy, transformative powers of the venue itself. Luckily for me, I only have to wait a week to see this venue change yet again to set the stage for my next concert review.
Hey Majestic, “Thank U.”