Christmas seems like an awfully long time ago now, doesn’t it? We had loads of fun at the initial run of new drag show Death Drop, which opened for a couple of weeks last December before we were all plunged into yet more pandemic-related restrictions. We’re thrilled that as the seemingly never-ending lockdown v3 finally draws to a close, the show is returning to the West End, and with it we have some fabulous new additions to the cast!
RuPaul’s Drag Race royalty Willam and Latrice Royale have stepped into the leading roles, and are joined by Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Myra DuBois alongside drag king Don One. They will appear with returning cast members Holly Stars, Anna Phylactic and LoUis CYfer when the show reopens at the Garrick Theatre in London next week. We caught Willam and Latrice during rehearsals for a delightfully camp little catch up…
How are rehearsals going?
Latrice: Oh my goodness, wonderful! Very exciting – great to get in the room with everyone and start meeting and learning. So far so good, everyone is really, super great! I’m just enamoured with everyone’s character and what they’re bringing and their energy, it’s just so easy going.
Without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us a little bit about Death Drop?
Willam: They’re calling it a Dragathie Christie murder musical mystery and that may sound like a lot of things! But everything gets better with drag queens, right? And drag kings! Honestly, we have some great drag kings. Don One is the loving Lothario in the show who beds all the women and it’s really fun, it reminds me of Clue but with drag queens and more everything.
Latrice: Very Clue-inspired, you know, murder, death. Full of comedy and puns and ridiculousness. Obviously we all know there’s a murderer – we’re trying to figure out who it is, and so people are losing limbs and dying and falling off, there’s lots of puking and poison and all that kinda good stuff… and just some good old-fashioned drag! And some musical numbers, it’s choc-full of lots of excitement.
How did you come to be involved in the show?
Willam: Well I’m in a group text with Courtney Act and Alaska, so when Courtney was rehearsing it she was telling us all about it and we were taking the piss out of her, like what the fuck are you doing? You’re not an actress, you’re a fucking vocalist, what are you going to do? Whistle tones when people die, bitch?! And now I ended up doing it, so, they finally got an actress to do an actress’s job. I’m happy to be here and throw shade at Courtney Act whenever I get the opportunity.
And how’s that news gone down in your group chat?
Willam: Oh, it’s great! Yesterday we were sitting around this table watching a video of something that happened at the Pose premiere which got some news last week and the director Jesse said that last time they were rehearsing, Courtney and some others were sitting around the same table, watching a video of somebody getting fisted. And then I asked, ‘Was the video of somebody singing a Britney Spears song while they fisted the person?’ and he said yes! And I said, ‘Oh, that was me!’ So apparently he knew me before he really knew me because Courtney was showing people videos of me fisting someone while singing I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman. I can send you the link if you need the video for research purposes.
That’s quite a way to make a first impression… and Latrice, how did you come to be involved?
Latrice: It started off with them asking for my availability. And when I got the dates I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a lot of availability! So who and what am I available before?’ You know, it depends, I’m not available for everybody! ‘What’s going on here? I need a little bit more information.’ Once they detailed what this was I was like, ‘Oh absolutely, sure!’ It’s been a dream of mine to start using my theatre chops more, I have left the club life and the club scene, we have elevated out of that and this is a wonderful new venture coming out of the pandemic. It’s a great time to do it, like if I ever had a bucket list then this is on it. West End!
It’s far from traditional West End fare. What does it mean to be making your West End debut, on such a big platform, in a show so specifically for the LGBTQ+ community?
Latrice: To me, it’s more than just me being on the West End. It does have more significance because it’s a fully drag-inspired production. And so that on the West End and being taken as credible and serious as any other production on the West End, it means a lot and it shows just how far drag has come, how inspiring and creative drag is, and that it is for EV-ER-Y-ONE. Everyone! Even little kids can come and see this play. There are a lot of things to consider, you know, leaving for such a long time, being away from my husband, all these things I would normally think about. But this is just one of those situations… this opportunity you don’t wanna say no to. No one knows if it’s gonna come back again so I wanted to prove something to myself, I wanted to challenge myself, and I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to do all of that.
Willam: I think it is kinda traditional, we’re doing it seven times a week just like anybody else. You know, a lot of the women in Les Mis wear just as much wigs and make up as drag queens. So I really feel like this is legit. Gurl, Latrice and I are gonna get Oliviers! I think that’s how you say it right, that’s your Tony Awards around here? It means a lot to be doing this because I always wanted to do something on Broadway, and I never made it there, so that’s why I ended up moving to LA when I was 19. I was like, ‘You know what? I’d rather be poor and warm than poor and cold.’ So to get to do a legit show like this, it’s really nice. For all the TV shows that I’ve done, if my parents tell friends like he’s on this, people can be like, ‘Oh I haven’t seen it, haven’t seen it.’ But if they say he’s in a West End show they know exactly what that means, you know? Big deal. Especially to do it with someone like Latrice, who I’ve been working with for a decade now. We met on like this little rinky-dink reality show in America for cross-dressers. You can quote me on that!
We’re sorry that the good weather hasn’t followed you over here…
Willam: Oh I’ve been keeping track, darling! I’ve been here eleven days and it’s rained nine of those days. I guess you guys have different seasons – we have spring, over here you have Springland which is kinda like spring but mixed with England.
Within the show there’s a lot of faces – what’s the dynamic like working with these queens?
Latrice: It’s like when you get together with… maybe not even your besties, your Good Judies, but you’re all familiar with each other and you can tell that the bond is already building. We already have a familiarity with each other, so it heightens the experience for everybody. You know, I love Willam! Willam and I are very good friends, and I’ve worked with Anna Phylactic before, a brilliant talent. I’ve become a huge fan of Myra DuBois, she’s just extraordinary! And I’m meeting new people who I did not know before and they’re… just talented all the way across the table, there are no weak links in this production that’s for sure!
Willam: I mean any time you put drag queens in a room, it’s just a good time! There’s always that moment where in music rehearsals they’re like, Oh, you’re going to do the top line? and I’m just like, ‘Oh well, that’s the first time for her.’ Any time you put drag queens in a room together it’s just like kindergarteners but with raunchy imaginations. The show is great, come see it, it’s so funny!
It’s nice to hear you’re working so well together but we were expecting something more outrageous…
Latrice: These stories are yet to come, give it some time!
Show aside, do you have any other fun plans for your time in London, or anything that you’d like to do?
Latrice: I just want the sun to come out more while I’m here! But you know, we’re still in the midst of this pandemic and I’m very cautious and although I would love to be out and mingle… I’m gonna hold out a little bit and see how things develop as the warmer weather comes this summer, but I would love to go see some sights and do some shopping.
Willam: I’m trying to touch base with a lot of my BBC sisters. I’m trying to do some stuff with Ellie Diamond, Tayce, A’Whora, Bimini and I plan to see my drag daughter Shaneeda Nibbles also known as Jade from Little Mix. I’m gonna be at G-A-Y a lot because they’ll probably give me free drinks. And honestly, I just like walking around and discovering stuff. I’m from one of the oldest cities in America, Philadelphia, and our little 250-year-old history is like a drop in the bucket compared to your fucking castles and 1,000-year-old streets and cobblestones!
Anything else you’d like to add or that you’ve been working on recently?
Willam: It’s been harder to connect with audiences without having gigs so we’ve found a way to still get into people’s heads, through their ears instead of their eyes. I would love to plug my podcast, and Latrice’s podcast. I wrote a podcast empire, or as we call it the Fempire, with Alaska called MoM podcasts, we have like eight or nine podcasts with Shea Couleé, Jinkx Monsoon, Latrice, Manila Luzon, a bunch of drag queens. There’s a podcast for everybody’s tastes and values! We’re just trying to push that and get all the ears as possible on us across the world.
Thank you for today and good luck for the show! We hope the rest of rehearsals go great.
Willam: Cool, when you come see the show just wave a £10 note so I know it’s you!
Death Drop returns to the Garrick Theatre from 19 May. More information can be found here.