As ‘Fierce’ as they come

“Mildred Fierce” is anything but a drag. Olive Another, third from left, and Varla Jean Merman, fourth from left, are especially brilliant.
“Mildred Fierce” is anything but a drag. Olive Another, third from left, and Varla Jean Merman, fourth from left, are especially brilliant. Photo: Michael von Redlich

Varla Jean Merman makes everything more fun. Even the always glittery Gold Dust Orphans seem to sparkle a bit more when the legendary drag performer joins their party.

The statuesque leading ‘lady’ brings much more than a big pair of pumps to Ryan Landry’s latest farce, “Mildred Fierce.” By playing it straight, (OK, by playing it serious), Merman, whose alter-ego is performance artist Jeffery Roberson, delivers impeccably-timed belly laughs in this pulp noir parody of the 1945 Joan Crawford film “Mildred Pierce.” Ever the triple threat, Merman also reminds us she can sing, dance and make musical magic with a can of Cheez Whiz.

While Landry remains faithful to the Academy Award-winning film he lampoons, he still manages to take it too far in all the right places (like naming a restaurant Mildred’s Pie Hole). The result is a gender-bending, tap-dancing, musical extravaganza that is definitely, and thankfully, not wholesome family fare.

The Orphan mainstays are all in attendance. Penny Champayne is a nasty delight as Mildred’s evil daughter Veda. Olive Another is hilarious as Mildred’s friend Ida. Doing double-duty as choreographer and ethically-challenged businessman Wally, Delta Miles delivers his (or is it her?) finest performance to date.

Aside from being the comic brains behind the entire production, Landry also makes a cameo as an uptight elder and a riotous turn as daffy domestic Butterball. Chris Loftus, as always, plays the straight man while Brooks Brasselman gives a dubious orientation to two-timing sleaze Monty Brigadoon.

Amelia Gossett and Lauren Duffy have created one of the best Orphan sets ever and Scott Martino’s outrageous costumes highlight Mildred’s biggest assets. But it’s director James P. Byrne who, somehow, makes it all look effortless.

If you go:

‘Mildred Fierce’
Through March 17
Club Machine
1254 Boylston St., Boston
$40-$50, 800-838-3006
www.brownpapertickets.com/


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

DA: Homeless man severely beat by men in…

Two former college football players pleaded not guilty to the alleged severe beating of a homeless man in Allston earlier this year.

National

Hamas, Abbas's PLO announce reconciliation agreement

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Going Out

Thursty: Revamped Audubon is back in action

Having been a long time fan of Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square, one of my only complaints about the place is that there's only…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

MUSIC Huun Huur Tu Friday, 8 p.m. First Church in Cambridge 11 Garden St., Cambridge $28, 617-876-4275 www.worldmusic.org This group comes from the tiny nation…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox top Yankees, 5-1

John Lackey shines, Pineda ejected in Red Sox win

NHL

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston…

Bruins - Red Wings Game 4 preview: Boston greedy for more dominance

MLB

Fantasy baseball: Searching for early season prospects

It’s relatively rare for a mediocre 30-year-old hitter to suddenly go nuts offensively for 162 games. That’s why minor league prospects are so exciting.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."