YORK drag diva supreme Velma Celli is heading off to America for a month of cruise-ship shows, but not before a birthday bash at Impossible York.
Velma, the fabulous cabaret creation of West End musical actor Ian Stroughair, will mark Ian’s birthday on Thursday (13/1/2022) with an 8pm performance of The Velma Celli Show in the Wonderbar.
Then come those cruise-ship engagements for Atlantis Gay Cruises, whose publicity proclaims: “Gonna be FUN! Get on board the biggest event of 2022 for Atlantis’s 30th anniversary!
“5,500 guys. Superstar performers. Cutting-edge productions. Legendary concerts. Mind-blowing parties. And you! All on the world’s largest and most spectacular ship.
“We’re finally turning 30 with the greatest production in Atlantis history as we sail the best of the Caribbean for the perfect start to 2022.”
Here, CharlesHutchPress sets Velma/Ian the challenge of firing off quick answers to quick questions in a short break from packing for the travels ahead.
How old will you be on Jan 13?
“Twenty-one. It’s a New Year miracle!”
What would be the perfect birthday present?
What songs will you be performing at Impossible York?
“It’ll be a mixture of mine and the audience’s favourite from years gone by. A mixture of Whitney [Houston], Amy [Winehouse], Queen, Judy [Garland] and many more. Lots of impressions, banter and general camp fun! Doors at 7pm; show at 8pm.”
What show will you perform on the cruise ships and how often on each cruise?
“I’m performing two shows, A Brief History Of Drag and my new show, God Save The Queens, which is a celebration of British female recording artists. Adele. Annie Lennox. Amy. Dua Lipa. Four shows a week.”
Where will the two cruises sail to?
“OOOOO, so many places! Miami, Bahamas, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Puerta Vallarta and many more!”
Have you worked with Atlantis Gay Cruises before?
“I’m on contract number five. There should have been so many more but bl***y ‘Rona’ entered our lives, didn’t she!”
Any update on plans to present Irreplaceable, your David Bowie show, in York?
“YES! February 26th at Theatre@41 Monkgate, 8pm, when I’ll be celebrating Bowie and the artists he inspired.”
What’s coming up for you in York after that?
“Me And My Divas on March 19th on my return to York Theatre Royal, where I sold out A Brief History Of Drag last May. Line-up to be announced, but you can expect ‘an overindulgent diva fest celebrating the songs and behaviour of all your favourite divas: Céline, Mariah, Whitney, Aretha, Cher, Britney (maybe not!) and many more.”
Of all those divas in that show – 2021 Best Cabaret winner at the Perth Fringeworld in Australia – who is your favourite vocalist and why?
“Whitney Houston! Hands down the greatest singer of all time, in my humble opinion.”
What else is in your diary for 2022?
“SO many more gigs at Impossible York, including my Drag Brunches and solo shows. We’re starting a new evening show called Back To The 80s and another brunch called Matinee Musicals Brunch! Tickets go live soon!”
What are your hopes for this year?
“No more ‘Rona’, lots of laughter and PEACE!”
What are your hopes for the arts world at large this year?
“A thriving community and lots of new writing! We all love a ‘Les Mis’ etc, but ’tis time to shine a light on new writing, artists, creatives and producers. A shout-out to Lambert Jackson Productions, who have been smashing compelling and fantastic new work pre and throughout this pandemic. Proud!”
The Velma Celli Show, Impossible York, St Helen’s Square, York, Thursday, January 13; doors at 7pm; show, 8pm. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/the-velma-celli-show-impossible-york-tickets/11662445.
Velma Celli: Irreplaceable, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, February 26, 8pm. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
Velma Celli: Me And My Divas, York Theatre Royal, March 19, 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
PS. Ian Stroughair will turn 39 on January 13.