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Book by Blake Edwards, music by Henry Mancini
Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse

Uptown Players

Reviewed Performance: 8/6/2011

Reviewed by Christopher Soden, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

NOTE: This review originally appears in the DALLAS EXAMINER, but Christopher Soden is part of THE COLUMN theater critic staff and reviewed V/V on behalf of THE COLUMN as well.

Victor/Victoria is a curious mix of social commentary and light musical comedy. It's amusing and charming, though it really only dabbles in gender politics, which is okay. One never gets the impression that creators Blake Edwards (Book) Henry Mancini (Music) Leslie Bricuse (Lyrics) are trying to make a strong statement about queer subculture or homophobia in a male privileged culture, but deals with them topically in service of plot.

The story itself, in many ways ingenious, may feel a bit duplicitous. It flirts with provocative concepts in perfunctory ways. But after all is said and done it's a well executed, entertaining diversion that never really invites closer inspection. Unlike, say, Yentl or Tootsie I don't think we're intended to ruminate or speculate on the substance of the piece.

As many of you know, Victor/Victoria is the story of Victoria and Toddy, both talented, yet down-and-out entertainers trying to subsist along the lavender underbelly of Paris. One night, after Toddy has insulted more customers at the gay nightclub, Chez Luis, a bedraggled Victoria comes in out of the rain, desperately seeking respite and perhaps even a singing gig.

Overcome with sympathy, Toddy takes her back to his humble flat. Giving her pajamas and tea while nursing her back to health, they discover Victoria can pass for a guy. Toddy realizes they've struck gold and explains she will enthrall Paris as the Polish Count who can impersonate a woman. That it is to say she will be a woman pretending to be a man who does incredibly convincing drag. Down to hitting musical notes impossible for any man to manage. Phenomenal. And of course, "Victor" is an overnight success.

Into this quandary steps King, a gangster with a taste for nightlife and the ladies. Finding himself strongly attracted to "Count Victor" when he's doing his act, King is convinced that the performer must be actually be another man.

He's never been attracted to other men before so this is the only plausible explanation. Right? When he confronts "Victor," "he" accuses King of fearing his own homoerotic side. Now. This is probably what an actual man might say, so Victoria gets it right.

But it seems kind of underhanded. King experiences his dark night of the soul and concludes that male or female, Victoria is for him.

His courage inspires his friend, Squash, to proclaim his love for Toddy. (Thank God for Squash, evincing that gay men don't necessarily wish to be women.) Let the zany shenanigans commence.

Victor/Victoria is a shiny whirligig, full of glitz and glam and fine musical numbers. Perhaps it only scratches the surface of the complicated nature of gender and living happily in a culture with often unenlightened notions of what it means to be male or female.

But there's lots of clever dialogue, excellent choreography and merriment to be had. Uptown Players always puts keen, vibrant energy into its productions and the life affirmations informing Victor/Victoria will bring a tingle and smile to your face.

Shows are Friday/Saturday at 8pm & Sunday at 2pm. A special Thursday night show will take place on August 18 at 8pm. Performed at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd at Blackburn, Dallas TX 75219. Tixs are $30-40 and can be purchased online at or by phone at 214-219-2718.