Review by Steve Desroches
Every Tuesday night the Paramount room at the Crown and Anchor is transformed into Television City as Thirsty Burlington presents her homage to 1970s Cher. For 30 years now Thirsty Burlington has entertained Provincetown as her own drag persona and with a variety of character work, including Judy Garland, which inspired Jinkx Monsoon who gave credit to Burlington after winning the Snatch Game on the current season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars. But it is undoubtedly her impersonations as Cher, with all live vocals, that continually packs houses and wows audiences, including famed fashion designer who has had Cher as a major muse, Bob Mackie. Whenever Mackie’s in Provincetown he takes in her show and told Provincetown Magazine in 2016, “I’ve seen a lot of performers do Cher, but I’ve never seen anyone do Cher better than Thirsty.” And her current presentation, Cher 1975, shows exactly why Thirsty is still at the top of her game.
As the title makes clear, this show takes audiences into a time machine back to just one of Cher’s heydays, the mid-1970s and the Golden Age of the Variety Show. And while it’s a solo show, Cher 1975 is structured like a TV show, with vintage commercials and all. When delivering patter and jokes Burlington hits all the nuances and idiosyncrasies of Cher. But it is when she sings that the jaws begin to drop and the applause flows, as it’s uncanny how much Burlington sounds like the pop megastar. With a solidly seventies set list, Burlington nails it when she belts out hits like “Dark Lady,” “Take Me Home,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” And the corresponding costuming, as well as her long, ironed straight hair and makeup, have Burlington looking very much Cher having left Sonny Bono and now taking up with Gregg Allman.
You needn’t be a particular fan of Cher to enjoy the show, as its entertaining in every facet. And it’s for people of all ages. Just ask the four-year-old boy, who sat mesmerized from beginning to end, and his grateful mother who noted at the end of the show that he hadn’t sat that still for that long ever in his young life.
Part of the dazzling effect of the show is the improvements to the Crown and Anchor that have been made since new owners took over last year, giving new technology for performers to utilize to enhance their shows. The new LED video wall in the Paramount room is a perfect punctuation mark to Thirsty’s show, providing a changing digital set behind her that complements, but does not overpower. But above all else, Cher 1975 is the culmination of years of work and dedication made all the more remarkable by the fact that Burlington successfully beat cancer this past year and came out of that experience determined to return to where she belongs: in the spotlight.
Thirsty Burlington: Cher 1975 runs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. weekly through September 6 at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St., Provincetown. Tickets ($35/$45) are available at the box office and online at onlyatthecrown.com. For more information call 508.487.1430.