Estrada’s lyrics and dialogue are not always elegant because he includes such a large number of historical factoids about gay liberation. But he gets away with the bumpy dramatic structure because of a good-natured stage presence and a playful singing voice. Even though he tackles serious subjects, he never allows the show to become didactic or heavy-handed.
The set is minimal but effective. There’s a table at the back of the stage that holds wigs for each of the characters. Estrada changes costumes in front of the audience, and the transitions between characters are often as funny as the characters themselves.
Estrada dons a long black wig (imagine Alan Rickman’s wig from the Harry Potter movies) to create a manic version of Oscar Wilde. If he doesn’t exactly match your image of the flamboyant Wilde, the character is hilarious nonetheless.
Estrada’s bug-eyed portrayal of Gertrude Stein is brilliant. He puts on stodgy clothes, plain shoes and a severe wig. By inserting mega pauses between lines of dialogue, he creates considerable comic tension with Stein’s character.
Just a little steam goes out of the show when Estrada puts on a blonde wig and becomes Ellen DeGeneres. Her deadpan, understated humor probably isn’t the best raw material for a musical finale.
On opening night, the most affecting moment occurred after the official end of the show. Estrada turned to local comic Steve Moore and said that he found Moore’s HBO comedy special about life with HIV personally inspirational. He told Moore that you never know when one may become an icon for other people. That one gesture crystallized the meaning of the entire show. S“Icons, The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Part 1” continues through April 24 at Fieldens Cabaret Theatre, 2033 W. Broad St. 346-8113. www.richmondtriangleplayers.com.
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