By Jason Mount
Bright lights illuminated the Yvonne Theater as the bass from the loud music vibrated the seats. Rider’s Drag Race was back once again to stun the crowd.
In years past, the performance was a chance for students to dress in their best drag and compete for the title of champion. On Feb. 8, however, the competition was turned into a showcase of drag talent, both student and professional alike.
Junior technical theater major Makenzi Kalsch attended this year’s Drag Race as well as the year before, and thought that losing the competition aspect could help students understand what a real drag show could be like.
“I thought it was very unique,” Kalsch said. “A lot of people only see drag through the T.V. show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ so seeing a live drag show was a new experience for a lot of Rider students.”
The event once again intended to raise money for Rider’s Relay for Life, collecting money via Venmo and walking around with buckets in between performances.
The night’s entertainment started with a number by Miss Phoebe Mantrapp, a drag entertainer from New Hope, Pennsylvania. Her lip-sync performance of Lizzo’s “Good as Hell” set the tone for an energetic evening the students would cheer for.
The show continued with performances by drag queens from Philadelphia, including Cyannie, Morgan Wells, Maria Topcatt and Sapphira Cristal.
Wells was introduced as an owner of her own costume design business, a hobby that was apparent upon her first step on stage. She graced the stage and evoked gasps from the audience as she shimmered in her opulent gold gown with large sunflower headpiece, twirling around as the light glittered off of her dress.
Maria Topcatt was another crowd favorite, showing off her talent in burlesque to a slower jazz rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” Topcatt swirled her long, black ensemble around a coolly lit stage, stripping off her coat and dress-train to the adventurous rhythm of the song.
Topcatt’s electric performance was met with thunderous applause, to which she bowed graciously and addressed the audience “Thank you so much, now take out your phones so you can follow me.”
She roused more giggles from the audience with more conversations with the audience, even calling out to the theater majors in the crowd.
“Who here is a theater major?” Topcatt asked, to which she was met with a large amount of raised hands. “Good. This is your future,” she joked as she gestured to herself.
Another energetic performer was Sapphira Cristal, who lip-synced to a medley of female-performed hip-hop songs. Once she was finished, she wanted to promote a message of self-love.
“I want everyone to hug themselves right now. This isn’t a choice, you have to do it,” Cristal said. “Now I want you all to repeat after me: I fully love and accept myself.”
Cristal’s mantra echoed through the theater as the audience repeated it multiple times, the feeling of self-love radiating through the crowd.
Halfway through the evening, Associate Dean of Student Life Nick Barbati came out on stage to give a heartfelt introduction to New Hope icon and friend, Miss Pumpkin. Barbati celebrated Miss Pumpkin for her achievements of raising over $1 million for HIV research, and graced her with the crown as Rider’s first drag hall of famer.
The show continued with several more performances from the night’s talent, as the performers donned different outfits and continued to stun the crowd.
Before the night ended, however, there was one final act that viewers of last year’s Drag Race could not wait to see.
“My favorite part was Diana Jettcrash,” Kalsch said. “I really enjoyed the theatrical aspect of her performance. She’s simply incredible.”
Diana Jettcrash, also known as senior musical theater major Terren Mueller, won last year’s Drag Race and returned this year to raise the bar.
Jettcrash was wheeled onto the stage on a stretcher, covered with a white sheet. Suddenly, she was brought to life and dressed reminiscent of the bride of Frankenstein. Her number conjured gasps, cheers and applause from the audience at numerous points.
The crowd hollered loudest, however, during Jettcrash’s lip-sync to Kim Petras’ “There Will Be Blood,” where she stood over a patch of plastic on the stage and drenched herself in fake blood, closing the evening’s festivities with a classic death drop.
As students left the Yvonne Theater, music accompanying their exit, comments of their amazement filled the air, making Drag Race yet another successful event to add to the books.
Published in the 2/12/2020 issue of The Rider News.