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REVIEW: Thirsty Burlington in Cher Live!

by Steve Desroches

“Someone once said, ‘The only thing that will be left after a nuclear holocaust is Cher and cockroaches.’ I think that’s funny, because, you know, I am a survivor. If I am anything, that’s what I am.” – Cher

This old camp apocalyptic proverb should be amended to include Provincetown drag star Thirsty Burlington because she not only personifies Cher on stage, but also off, with a drive and adaptability that keeps her in the spotlight despite an ever-evolving drag scene and changing tastes. They might come for Cher, but they stay for Thirsty! And that’s what’s at the heart of Burlington’s new show Cher Live! at the Crown and Anchor, as she presents the work of the biggest pop star of all time, with live vocals, all the while presenting the show as her own. The strength is that Burlington never loses herself as she pretends to be someone else presenting Cher’s 50-plus-year career. It’s a guided tour through the world of Cher led by someone who shares the same obsession for this pop culture chameleon as the sold-out crowd there this past Friday night, kicking off the Fourth of July week.

The show is a real accomplishment of top-notch drag performance. It is all too easy to take for granted Burlington’s vocal abilities as when she sings as Cher she often adds in comedic elements covered with a marabou camp aesthetic. Whether it’s The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Cher or “If I Could Turn Back Time” Cher, Burlington delivers a powerhouse performance presenting a cabaret concert with blow-the-doors-off-the-hinges, all-live vocals. Lip-synching drag might be de rigueur around the country, but Provincetown has long demanded live vocals from drag queens, and Burlington is the best of the best.

The real Cher has long expressed affection and appreciation for those drag performers that impersonate her recognizing them for not only performing in a unique art form, but also for being an important part of the longevity of her own career. In short, drag queens help deliver the music and image of those they impersonate, like sparkly ambassadors. That being said, Burlington has a lot of competition, as Cher is undoubtedly one of the most impersonated celebrities in the drag world, which was evident in this past season of RuPaul’s Drag Race when an entire episode was dedicated to her. But famed fashion designer and costumer, and annual Provincetown visitor, Bob Mackie, who has dressed Cher for decades, has repeatedly stated that of all the Cher impersonations he’s seen—and he has seen A LOT—Burlington is the best hands down. There is only one Cher and only one Thirsty Burlington. It is easy to imagine the two of them lounging in the post-apocalyptic world setting roach traps while toasting each other’s success as they each plan their next show with their nuclear-resistant talents.

Thirsty Burlington performs Cher Live! at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St., Provincetown, through September 6. For specific dates, times, and tickets ($25) go to the box office or visit For more information call 508.487.1430.

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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