Stadium Virginium Fosters Unity Through 80s Rock-Inspired Show
by Christina Best
For those of you who’ve never attended (SHAME! SHAME!) — Stadium Virginium is this raucous, 80’s glam drag show set to well-known, bangers that scream an anarchist, “fight the system” mentality. The kings and queens conveyed this mindset dressed in grungy band t-shirts, ripped-up jeans, and dark makeup for the opening performances to “Jukebox Hero,” “C’mon Feel the Noise,” and “Nothin’ But a Good Time.”
Entertainment reflects one of our most important rights—freedom of speech. And as Stadium Virginium performer Barbie Roberts says, “drag is an art form, and art is always meant to challenge and provoke thought.” In the context of what’s happening in this country, it is especially important to support art that not only challenges our perceptions but also connects and unifies us. Stadium Virginium achieved that balance. After attending the show this past weekend, I was highly entertained, but I also left feeling like I was part of something bigger than myself.
Virginia took a break after this segment to deliver a monologue that set the tone for the entire show. “We are one human family,” said Virginia, “and we’re here to celebrate entertainment and all lifestyles.” Virginia also took the time to recognize the straight people in the audience and thanked them for being allies to the gay community.
Nina followed Virginia’s monologue with a solo routine to Meatloaf’s “I Would do Anything for Love.” She started the routine in a blue jacket, complete with billowing cravat. Then, in the most extraordinary costume change of the night, the suit turned into a beautiful yellow gown as she spun around. Both costumes emulated the outfits worn by Belle and the Beast in the ballroom scene in “Beauty and the Beast.” Nina has such a great stage presence, and I love the effort she takes to make meaningful, deliberate eye contact with members of the audience.
Overall, the show achieved a great balance between group and solo numbers. I loved Virginia’s ensemble performance to a “Girls, Girls, Girls/Cherry Pie” mashup. The performers were dressed in school-girl outfits, and the choreography was playful and well-executed. The group routine to “Rock and Roll All Night,” led by Maria Garrison, had fantastic energy and they donned elaborate Kiss-inspired outfits and makeup.
Some standout solo performances included: Selena West’s performance to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” where she jumped in the air and, in a feat of impressive flexibility and athleticism—landed into the splits; Gretta Goodbottom’s amusing performance to “Pinball Wizard,” complete with comically large light-up shoulder pads; and Roberts’ ode to Freddie Mercury/Queen, during which she brought out the bi-visibility flag while singing along to “We Are the Champions.”
At the end of the show, Virginia took the time to acknowledge both the audience and the contributions of every performer. Charity is a very important part of every Virginia/Nina show. She encouraged people to make charitable donations and, the night I went, they raised over $1,000 for Besa. In the 21 years Virginia has been performing, her shows have raised over $2 million for local charities. Virginia West consistently puts an emphasis on love, unity, and community service in each of her shows and she provides a premium of hope to the city of Columbus and the greater LGBTQ community.