“Expect a lot of belt and emotion,” says York drag diva Velma Celli as witching hour beckons for online Equinox show

Something fabulous..and wicked this way comes: Velma Celli to stream Equinox show in kitchen-sing drama

DRAG diva deluxe Velma Celli invites you to “join me in my kitchen as I celebrate all my favourite witchy and misunderstood characters from movies and musicals” online on Saturday night.

The cabaret creation of York actor Ian Stroughair will be presenting Velma’s hit show, Equinox, Something Fabulous This Way Comes, from Case de Velma Celli.

“Equinox is a love letter to all the witches and magical creatures who have graced our stages and screens, from Wicked to The Wizard Of Oz and every belty enchantress from the coven in between,” says Velma, who will sing her siren songs at the witching hour, “when daylight and darkness are almost equal”.

Since going into self-isolation in Bishopthorpe lockdown after an Australian tour, Ian has performed two Velma shows online: a fundraiser for St Leonard’s Hospice on May 2 and Large & Lit In Lockdown on May 16.

Tickets for show number three, Equinox, cost £7 at: ticketweb.uk/event/velma-celli-equinox-live-stream-tickets/10604915. Around 30 minutes ahead of the 8pm start, audience members will receive a link to watch the performance, which can be streamed on a PC or internet-enabled smart TV.

Charles Hutchinson puts the bewitching questions to a still virtual Velma Celli  

How did the Large & Lit In Lockdown show go? Did you have a special guest join you in remote mode?

“It was SO much fun. Sarah [Walker] and I have really fine-tuned the production of a show in a kitchen now during these bizarre times – said nobody EVER!

“I had West End superstar Louise Dearman join me for a remote duet. She’s immensely talented. Check out her albums on ITunes et al.”

How’s life in loosened lockdown ticking over for you after more than 75 days?

“I’m good. Taking each day as it comes and I’m trying to remain that way. As we know, theatre is most likely to be the last thing to open but I try not to think about that too much for my own sanity.”

“I understand the misunderstood and the outcasts, what with being a member of the LGBTQI+ community,” says Ian Stroughair, the York actor behind the Velma Celli drag act

What is the history of your Equinox show? 

“I did a UK tour of Equinox first. Rare to get that opportunity but it came right off the back of a hit run of my show A Brief History Of Drag, so I said ‘Yes’, having not yet written the show!

“We’ve played a tour of Australia too and, of course, the West End.”

What draws you towitchy and misunderstood characters from movies and musicals?

“Just my upbringing of The Wizard Of Oz and The The Wiz and the like. It was when the old movies were still treasured and we watched them as a family.”

Were you always drawn to them? Do you feel a connection by any chance?!

“I think I might be drawn to them because I understand the misunderstood and the outcasts, what with being a member of the LGBTQI+ community.”

Who and what features in Equinox and why?

“All your fave witchy, dark, fabulous witch moments in musical theatre and the movies. Ursula to Elphaba and everything in between.”

What do you most enjoy about the witching/bewitching hour?

“It’s a time to unleash the magic and be utterly awesome.”

What costume can the online audience look forward to this weekend?

“A fabulous black dress.”

Any guest contributors popping up or will you be flying solo?

“I’ll have West End star Jodie Steele joining me, remotely again of course. She’s appeared in Wicked, Rock Of Ages and Six, to name but a few.”

What will be the closing number and why?

“I can’t tell you. It’s the finale and a girl NEVER tells…just expect a lot of belt and emotion.”

Velma and Jodie: Silk and Steele on Saturday

Bowie, Barbra and Britney in your living room on Saturday? Yes, courtesy of diva Velma Celli’s online kitchen-sing drama

Dish of the day in her Bishy kitchen: Glam York drag diva Velma Celli is back on your telly or PC this weekend

VELMA Celli, York’ glamorous globe-strutting drag diva, will be Large & Lit in her latest lockdown concert streamed from her Bishopthorpe kitchen on Saturday night.

Ian Stroughair, the alter-ego of fabulous cabaret creation Velma, returned to self-isolate in his native York, rather than his adopted milieu of London, directly from a tour of Australia, and obeying government orders, he has stayed home since quarantine.

Ian, who presents The Velma Celli Show at The Basement, City Screen, York, each month, organised Velma’s first intimate kitchen gig for May 2, in support of St Leonard’s Hospice, in Tadcaster Road, where his late mother was a patient.

“I’d always wanted to find a way to support the hospice, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity,” said Ian, who raised £1,288 for St Leonard’s that night. “With so many conventional fundraising events postponed due to the lockdown, it was a great way for people to support the hospice while enjoying a fantastic, fun and fruity evening of live music in their own living room.” 

Ian’s glittering cabaret queen has starred in such self-originated shows as A Brief History Of Drag, Equinox – Something Fabulous This Way Comes and Me And My Divas, as well as The Velma Celli Show, and now he adds Large & Lit In Lockdown to his title list.

Diva Velma’s repertoire of impersonations of singers and their peculiar mannerisms draws inspiration from a multitude of the best female vocalists of the past 75 years, from Judy Garland to Lady Gaga and beyond. “And unlike many drag queens, Velma always performs live, adding her own special spin to familiar songs,” Ian says.

“This time we’ll have some Bowie, Barbra and Britney,” promises Velma

Charles Hutchinson asks Ian Stroughair/Velma Celli for quick answers to quick questions ahead of Saturday’s 8pm gig.

How did the first kitchen concert go? What was the highlight for you? 

“It was so much fun but totally bizarre not having an audience. Trying to navigate this new way of working was tricky but still fun. The highlight was telling my house mates to clap at the end of the songs! Bless them, they didn’t know if they were allowed. LOL!”

How did it work out singing a “remote” duet with York country singer Twinnie?

“I sang from the kitchen and she was out in the garden – which you can get to without coming through the house – on a radio mic. There was a rather fabulous patio door reveal! ‘Social-distant duetting’ is the new black!” 

Why have you chosen Large & Lit In Lockdown for the latest show title? Nice alliteration, by the way!

“I love alliteration and I am large. Mainly because it’s become custom in this house to fry EVERYTHING!” 

Where will you perform on Saturday? In the kitchen again or another room?

“Kitchen, better acoustics.” 

How will the set list differ from the first concert?

“It will be completely different. This time we’ll have some Bowie, Barbra and Britney! Ya welcome!” 

Choice of dress for the occasion?

“Whatever I can still fit into.” 

Any songs come to mind to perform in response to the Government’s new advice to Stay Alert?

“All By Myself, the Eric Carmen song.” 

When do you envisage being able to return to the world of the stage, the greasepaint and the live audience?

“I don’t want to think about that! Most likely 2021. Urgh.”

How do people acquire a ticket for the best seat in their house for the live stream from Case De Velma Celli?

“As per [usual], all you need to do is get ya tickets from the link below a.s.a.p. and a live link will arrive in your email inbox on the day of the show. Click on it at show time and BOOM! There she is.


Love and light, Velma.”

Please note: Saturday’s online event can be streamed on a PC or internet-enabled smart TV; tickets cost £7.