Drag Diva Charles Busch to Reign as 'Cleopatra'

Charles Busch as Cleopatra - S 2016
Courtesy of David Rodgers

After skewering tough-broad melodramas, '60s beach frolics, nun movies and religious epics, the Hollywood satirist will next step into the sandals of Elizabeth Taylor.

The Queen of the Nile will rule again in Charles Busch's Cleopatra.

The playwright and cult drag performer known for his irreverent satires of vintage Hollywood will add his own bawdy interpretation of the Real Housewife of Ancient Egypt to those of Sarah Bernhardt, Tallulah Bankhead, Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor.

After first developing a following in the downtown New York theater scene of the early '80s with Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Busch fused the 1960s surf romp with the slasher movie in Psycho Beach Party, and tackled "women's picture" melodramas in Die, Mommie, Die!, both of which were adapted into films. In The Divine Sister, he spoofed nuns onscreen, from The Trouble With Angels to The Sound of Music; and then desecrated religious epics in Judith of Bethulia.

Directed by Busch's regular collaborator Carl Andress, Cleopatra will be showcased in a limited engagement for 22 performances only at Theater for the New City on New York's Lower East Side, running March 25 through April 17. Additional cast are to be announced. The Divine Sister jumped from a similar showcase in 2010 to a smash off-Broadway commercial transfer.

Busch received a Tony nomination for his comedy The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, which opened on Broadway in 2000 and ran for two years.