I've interviewed Jinkx Monsoon several times as part of The Vaudevillians, but this time around, we are going at it one-on-one as Jinkx and I talk about everything Broadway for her new show Jinkx Sings Everything which will be at the Laurie Beechman Theatre from May 20-22 (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue inside the West Bank Cafe). Click here for tickets!
In Jinkx Sings Everything, the audience will be able to suggest and request their favorite Broadway songs to be performed on-the-spot by this boozy chanteuse -- accompanied on the piano by Joshua Stephen Kartas. Her improv skills and memory will be put to the test as she stumbles her way through this unforgettable show. No two performances will be the same!
1. This May you are premiering a brand new solo show at The Laurie Beechman Theatre called Jinkx Sings Everything. I have to ask, what made you want to do this show without Major Scales? Well, trust me, it's not that I didn't WANT to do the show with Major, this show just requires a slightly different skill set. Major is the best accompanist a queen can have, and he knows how to hold his own on stage with the obnoxious likes of me; and while he's an amazing improv pianist, this show concept requires someone who has an almost robotic memory catalogue of countless musical theater songs. Major and I do mostly original arrangements, so for this show to go as planned, I teamed up with the frighteningly talented Josh Kartas, who is an amazing sight reader and has a wealth of musical theater programmed into his brain. In fact, it was through playing around with Josh at multiple Broadway Sessions shows at the Laurie Beechman, that I even had the idea.
But don't worry! Major is not being replaced! He's just sitting this one out.
2. Jinkx Sings Everything is very different than any of your previous shows. This show is all show-tunes, all requested by the audience, so no two shows will be alike. Since you have no idea what songs will be requested, how do you prepare yourself for a show like this? I mean, what if someone asks you to sing "Are You Ready for Tonight" from the very short-lived Broadway musical Glory Days? While the set list will be by request, I will have ground rules, and at the end of the day, I call the shots. No one is going to make me sing something I don't wanna sing, or don't even know. What I plan is that through improvised conversations with the audience, we will arrive at songs together. I will talk a little bit about what I like about certain musicals. I'll poll the audience to see if they have a favorite song from said musical, and bang! There's a request. Or I may tell a sad story, and then ask if anyone has a favorite sad ballad, and see what gets generated that way. Even while opening up to requests, I will always be in control. Because I am the queen!
3. How does a show like this play to your performing strengths and weaknesses? Well, I am fairly proud of my ability to improvise with an audience. It's actually one of my favorite aspects of my drag performance style. I think doing the show this way will result in a lot of golden, fleeting moments of genius, and an abundance of stupidity on my part. All of which should be entertaining. I'm also a karaoke addict. If I go to karaoke with friends, I will be buried in the song book all night, setting up a play list of all my favorite songs to sing, and I can easily dominate the evening. That's what gave me the idea to do a show like this. I just love to sing! There are so many roles in musical theatre I'll probably never play, but I LOVE the songs these characters sing so much...I figured, why wait to be cast in the role? Why not just create a show where I do it all!
4. If you or someone were to write a musical about yourself, what do you think it would be called? What might some of the song titles be? If you weren't able to play you, who would? Hmm. That's tough. Of course, I think about these things all the time, but I never come to a conclusion. I've always thought a musical about my life might be called something like: Family Curse. My family has a long standing myth about a Family Curse. All the members of my family believe in it in some form or another. It's basically Murphy's Law; anything that can go wrong, will go wrong...And it'll happen to us, specifically.
I think Jinkx and Jerick would have to be played by two actors. Maybe a feminine boy to play me out of drag, and a more brassy, blunt, manic woman to play me in drag. Maybe the combo of Noah Galvin as Jerick and Megan Mullally as Jinkx? Hell. I'd watch that.
Some of the song titles might be:
-Little Red Blanket (as I used to have a red blanket I wore as a dress around the house).
-Art School Janitor
-My Mom, The Bottle, and Me
-Death Becomes Her
And maybe the show stopper, "Monsoon Season"
5. What is one aspect of your life that you would not want to be in the show and what part of your life would shock people the most? I think the part of my life that always shocks people the most, are my sex stories. I'm a very sexually adventurous person, but since I'm often labeled as "sweet" and "nice," people don't often think of me as being very sexual. The part I would leave out is my Ballet years. They aren't that interesting and looking back on my attempts at being a ballet dancer just leave me shaking my head.
6. If you could perform in concert with any musical theatre performer, who would you choose? Better Midler. Without her, I wouldn't be half of the performer I am today. I know she's more of a movie girl, but honestly, it would be my dream double billing.
7. What are your top 5 favorite musicals?
5) Grey Gardens
3) Hedwig and the Angry Inch
2) Into the Woods
1) Sweeney Todd
To name a few essentials:
-Mama Who Bore Me
-You Could Drive a person Crazy
-Maybe This Time
-The Last Midnight
9. Of the musicals currently playing, which ones would you want to be part of? You know, I don't think most people would think of me for this role, but I would LOVE to play "Elder Cunningham" in Book of Mormon. I think I could bring great things to that role, and the music is absolutely genius in that show. I'm a huge Trey Parker/Matt Stone fan, and have been for years.
10. What shows of the past would you like to see revived? I have always had this dream, of playing "Mrs. Lovett" in a revival of Sweeney Todd. Where instead of being set in The Victorian Era, it was set in a post apocalyptic, dystopian society. Where all the buildings are all but destroyed from nuclear fallout, and it's every man for himself. It would be a short leap to cannibalism, I think.
I also think Bye Bye Birdie could be done in a really funny way nowadays. I think we could use it as a satirical look at hero worship and social media culture today. Social media has turned everyone into assholes, and I think through some clever staging, we could see a really funny look at that with that show. I would also do some cross gender casting. Like "Mr. McAfee" would be a gruff, butch lesbian. And "Ursula" could be a "Conrad Birdie" obsessed gay boy. Just to update it a little and make it a little more applicable to today.
Jinkx Monsoon is the alter ego of Jerick Hoffer, who graduated with a degree in theatrical performance from Cornish College in Seattle. With ten years experience on stage, Hoffer is a seasoned Portland-born entertainer who has captured the attention of his native northwest region. As early as 2006, Hoffer appeared as the lead dancer in the world's largest drag queen chorus line, which made the Guinness Book of World Records. By 2012, he had advanced to roles in Seattle theaters, playing "Moritz" in Spring Awakening,(produced by Balagan Theatre) and "Angel" in Rent (produced by The 5th Avenue Theatre). Earlier this year, Hoffer played "Hedwig" in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (produced by Balagan Theatre and Seattle Theatre Group) and co-starred with Peaches Christ in the much-buzzed-about Return to Grey Gardens.