There’s only one place you can see twerking, characters from Harry Potter and a rather dramatic interpretation of a climactic scene from “The Crucible” on the same stage, and that’s at Nina West’s Heels of Horror VI.
This series of shows, which kicked off Friday night at Axis Nightclub, features a compilation of drag performances ripe with allusions to aspects of pop culture. Heels of Horror is slated to run through Nov. 2.
Nina West, the host of this fantastical evening, was the titular character in many of the segments performed throughout the night. Also featured as main performers were Cookie Crumbles, Freesia Balls, Virginia West and Barbie Roberts — all drag performers who had their own numbers throughout the evening.
When quick changes were happening backstage, the audience was still kept entertained through the use of video. The televisions hanging up throughout Axis would play short segments, often parodies, of movies and television shows to make sure attention didn’t stray too much. These clips were just as entertaining as the actual show — my personal favorites involved a heavily satirized Paula Deen cooking show and an advertisement for the (fake) movie “Single White She-Male.”
Every group number performed was better than the last, complete with on-point choreography that didn’t fall apart once throughout the evening. Though the stage at Axis doesn’t look like it was made for multiple performers at once, they carried the cramped quarters with grace and not a single person faltered.
If you’ve never seen a group of bloodied nurses twerking up a storm to the seminal “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus, you’re missing out. In a segment entitled “Clocktwerk Orange,” that’s exactly what all the performers did — complete with a green foam monster hand, similar to the one Miss Miley is so familiar with.
These group segments also included insanely in-depth costumes of well-known characters that evoked massive shrieks from the audience the second they were recognized. In a performance to “Problem” by Natalia Kills, five famous Disney villains were onstage and rocking out, while a later rendition of “Brave” by Sara Bareilles featured several known faces from the Disney film “Monsters, Inc.”
In a more emotional part of the show, audio from the 1996 film “The Crucible” was played while the drag performers lip-synced onstage. Once the passionate, screaming voices subsided, Nina West was alone for an incredibly raw performance of an acoustic “Hang With Me” by Robyn. I didn’t expect to shed actual tears walking into this performance, but now I couldn’t imagine Heels of Horror being complete without this segment. It offered the perfect balance of moroseness and solemnity to the silliness and fun of the rest of the show.
Nothing could top the nostalgic performances featuring characters from the Harry Potter series, though — especially when a song from the well-known web series “Potter Puppet Pals” was a major portion of this act. As if this wasn’t already enough, this Potter-based section closed the whole show with “And We Danced” by Macklemore which was the perfect finishing touch on a night filled with so much energy and good vibes. I felt my spirits lift just by watching the performers onstage, and shared in their joy and wealth of emotion as the music pounded through the speakers.
Though the individual drag performances weren’t as exciting as the spectacular song-and-dance numbers performed by the entire group, they still had their place in the overall entertainment for the evening. They added a chance for the performers to express themselves wholeheartedly onstage, and the audience ate it up.
Every shred of energy put into the performance by one of the stars was thrown back at them voraciously by the audience. This is a show I’d go to again and again, just to get a taste of that delicious exuberance from each and every one of the performers.
Heels of Horror is also scheduled to occur Oct. 27, Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, all at 8 p.m. Axis Nightclub is located at 775 N. High St.