Kiki Ball-Change and Castrata are Broadway besties in ‘An Octave Apart’

Photo by John Lagucki.

Kiki Ball-Change and Castrata are desperately seeking a Glam Award — and with their cabaret An Octave Apart, they’re on the right track.

For the uninitiated, the Glam Awards honor the best of New York City’s nightlife. As two of the city’s most popular drag entertainers, Kiki and Castrata are no strangers to the ceremony: they’ve been nominated together for Best Duo for the past three years (though they’ve been snubbed every time, as they explained during the show). This year, both were also nominated separately in the Best Cabaret category, with Kiki taking home the gold. Now, though, they’ve joined forces, producing their first ever live-singing duo show in the hopes of winning together. They’re thirsty for a trophy, name-dropping the Glam Awards throughout the cabaret — but for queens this talented, who can blame them for wanting some recognition?

An Octave Apart sees Kiki and Castrata weaponize their BFAs like never before. The show’s title is quite literal: Castrata sings soprano, and Kiki sings tenor. It makes for some outstanding duets, and though both queens are top-tier singers individually, the show’s best vocal moments come from their airtight harmonies — all supported by a first-rate live band, of course.

Photo by Leyda Luz.

The cabaret is shameless in its love for classic musical theater. It follows a simple structure: Kiki and Castrata will tell a story about their drag careers and their friendship, then transition into a number that parodies a popular musical theater song. Wicked, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Book of Mormon and plenty of other shows all get the Kiki and Castrata treatment to hilarious (and vocally stunning) effect.

The show is filled to the brim with in-jokes for fans of NYC drag (and for fans of drag in general). In a mash-up of “You’ve Got Possibilities” and “Popular,” Kiki and Castrata give advice to pictures of themselves from when they’d just started drag. A debate over which of them is the better host of their weekly show Two Stupid Queens gives way to a dragged-up rendition of “Anything You Can Do”: “I can take a nine-inch, while I wear a five-inch,” Castrata sings. “Well, I can tell a good joke, while I give a good stroke,” Kiki fires back.

One number even laments the plight of being rejected time and time again from RuPaul’s Drag Race. To brainstorm what might get them cast, they sing a re-imagined version of Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion’s “Tell Him” to RuPaul herself: “Tell Ru that the sun and moon rise in his eyes / Suck up to him,” they suggest, with Castrata lamenting, “I don’t think I could endure / Being passed up for some wh*re / With an inner saboteur.” Preach!

Photo by John Lagucki.

But New York City is chock-full of powerful voices and lovers of musical theater. What sets Kiki and Castrata apart is, of course, their drag — both looked perfectly polished and glamorous in custom looks by Pierretta Viktori — and more than that, their genuine love for each other. They’ve been friends for five years, and it shows: Their chemistry is off the charts, and though their pre-planned bits and parody lyrics are fabulous, An Octave Apart shines in its unrehearsed moments where Kiki and Castrata celebrate being on stage with a best friend.

Though the cabaret was, for now, a one-night only show at Green Room 42 in Manhattan, it deserves a far longer run. For fans of musical theater, for fans of drag, and for fans of all things fabulous and fun, An Octave Apart would be hard to beat.

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