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Hello, Dolly! : Vancie Vega Makes A Splash At Red Room

by Steve Desroches

Every morning Vancie Vega tumbles out of bed and stumbles to the kitchen, and pours herself a cup of ambition to be the very best Dolly Parton impersonator there is. And maybe it’s the Skinny-n-Sweet in her coffee or maybe it’s the thought of changing Mr. Hart “from a rooster to a hen in one shot,” but Vancie Vega presents an impersonation of Dolly Parton that is downright uncanny. The wigs, makeup, and costuming are all on point, but it’s the choreography, movements, and facial expressions that have audiences rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Vega channels the superstar performer, so much so that she often needs a massage after a long run, as maintaining the physicality of Dolly requires so much muscle control her shoulders and neck can be left throbbing. But it’s worth it, she says, as in her 30-plus-year career as an entertainer, nothing brings the house down more than when she performs as Dolly, a phenomenon that will be on display at Red Room as Vega closes out August making her Provincetown debut with The Not Dolly Show.

“Look, I’m just a sweet, humble southern person at heart with gratefulness in my soul,” says Vega. “But I do have Dolly on lockdown.”

Born and raised in Texas, Vega’s first time as Dolly was quite unplanned and initially unwelcome. She started life on the stage at only 15 years old after sneaking into a bar and performing Anne Murray’s “Snowbird” in drag. While she got kicked out, she was hooked on the applause. That was followed by a successful stint in drag pageantry winning such titles as Miss Gay Texas USofA and Miss Continental Elite. But come the mid 1990s Vegas was a drag showgirl in Las Vegas, performing alongside longtime friend and Provincetown legend Randy Roberts. She played every drag show in Sin City working with Las Vegas drag royalty like Hot Chocolate and Frank Marino in the show An Evening at La Cage as well as with Kenny Kerr in Boy-Lesque. Each show had strict contracts as to what characters and acts would be part of each performance. Vegas laughs that often you’d be performing for “Ma and Pa Kettle from Kansas” who would come to see the show for impersonations of celebrities they were familiar with, with Dolly Parton being the most popular. Back then, Vega’s characters were usually Cher and Madonna, with an occasional chance to do Courtney Love. But on one particular night a castmate who usually performed as Dolly was sick and couldn’t make it. The producer said Vega would have to go on as the country star. Having never done her before she was both a bit annoyed and nervous, but ever the professional, she got ready and strode out onto the stage and got one of the biggest entrance applauses of her life. And just like that, it was hello Dolly for Vega!

Ever since, Dolly Parton has been a mainstay of Vega’s career on stage. Now based in Southern California, the popularity of The Not Dolly Show has only grown as Parton’s fame went from superstar to megastar to practically sainthood with her major donation to fund the development of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, her continued literacy program Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, as well as a pop culture shot in the arm with her recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All of that has led to a significant increase in bookings for Vega’s Dolly show, which brought her to perform recently in Nashville as well as an extended run in Puerto Vallarta and now Provincetown.

“It’s taken me out of the bars and revues into being able to do my solo show,” says Vega with a giggle. “Dolly doesn’t tour anymore and only makes rare concert appearances, so most folks can’t see her live anymore. I’m the next best thing. She has so many super fans and they’ve become fans of mine as I recreate the magic that Dolly brings to the stage. I usually sing live, but for Dolly I lip synch. This is a lip synch assassin show. I know every breath of every song in the show. I have to! Otherwise the super fans would call me out!”

It is funny and fascinating to see how the success of a pop star can at the same time elevate the career of drag artists who do said celebrity. Many stars, including Parton, have expressed appreciation for drag queens who do them and acknowledge the impersonations as not only flattering and an honor, but helpful to their own careers as they can only be in one place at a time and if drag queens stop incorporating their work into their shows it means they are becoming irrelevant. And while Vega has never met Parton, she’s friends with several people on her creative team as well as family members who give Vega the Dolly seal of approval, with her niece Heidi Parton issuing a statement of support: “I was completely blown away by Vancie Vega and that’s the honest truth. The dedication to the art of being a tribute artist to my Aunt Dolly is nothing less than perfection.”

It’s all been like a dream lately for Vega, and Provincetown is just a continuation of that, as the town is the place for drag and finally landing a gig is a big deal for any performer. “I cannot wait to get to Provincetown and to hit Commercial Street as Dolly to promote the show,” says Vega. “Just don’t look at my feet, as I’ll be doing it in sneakers. The illusion
can only go so far!”

Vancie Vega presents The Not Dolly Show at Red Room, 258 Commercial St., Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:30 p.m. starting August 20 through September 1. Tickets ($35/$45) are available at
the box office and online at

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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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