Masque-Review of Raja Live at the Laurie Beechman Theater

Photo by Kathy Creighton

“Hi everyone. It’s Raja!”

Following a montage of video clips of the opening of her YouTube show Fashion Ruview, the statuesque queen herself entered the room singing the title song from her good friend, Adam Lambert’s, debut album For Your Entertainment. And entertain she did.

On this second night of her residency at the Laurie Beechman Theater, Raja’s show included more singing, videos and slides, costume changes and talking…a lot of talking none of which was boring, trivial, or unnecessary.  Some of the things Raja had to say were shared with me verbatim in our interview. She explained her journey to Provincetown to create this show. She shared her nervousness and the guts to push through that in order to present this live performance. Why she needed to move beyond walking in figure-eights lip-syncing night after night.

Photo by Erin Day

It was this or give up performing altogether.  Raja accomplished the true art of storytelling on every level. In fact, there were three main stories to Masque. The first two went together. The masking of one’s true self especially when in the context of what is considered “masc”uline in most cultures. This was personal and Raja spent a good deal of this part of the story among the tables empathizing with mainly the gay men but speaking to everyone who has felt like “other” at some point in life. The other masque was the one we all hide behind these days…the internet. The strongest message here was to get beyond the negativity, not to promote the hate and ugliness and to occasionally just step away and interact face-to-face.

An exceptionally impactful segment came during a costume change.  It was a mini-documentary video done by 5Gum – “Martin’s Story”.  You can watch it here.  It is so sad and yet happy at the same time. It speaks volumes about masks and the need to continue moving away from making people hide behind them.

The costuming did not disappoint. From a crystal embellished leather high-necked vest and spandex leggings to the glittering scarlet flowing top and palazzo pants and ending with a pop art printed mod inspired jacket each with its own mask, the style, design, and aesthetic fit each part of the show and were totally Raja.  For those familiar with her, Raja is a queen whose style definitely leans feminine but is also androgynous. She doesn’t do padding or fake breasts. However, her makeup is extravagantly flawless. There were no wigs for this show. Raja has grown her own hair out long again and started with it pinned up then let it down for the for most of the show.  The height of this queen was emphasized by the low ceilings in the room. To say that she owned the space is an understatement.

Masque is a very personal and different experience, one that should play well wherever Raja takes it.  Audiences should be prepared to become an integral part of it and leave feeling like they have gotten to know the performer and themselves better.  I recommend opting for VIP to get the chance to actually share a hug and a selfie with Raja before heading home.

 

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