Daniel Riddlesmith, Ashley Drury, Annie Mayer, Yehudah Husband, William Nickles, Alex Roby, May O’Nays, Richie Goff in Twinkie and the Beast. Photo: Josh Tyson
Twinkie and the Beast
Written, directed, and choreographed by Tony Lewis
A review by Craig Nolan Highley
Entire contents are copyright © 2022, Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.
Sometimes as a reviewer you find a production that defies description and where the usual rules of critique just simply do not apply. That’s the only way I can even think to begin this review for Twinkie and the Beast.
If you take Disney animation, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Edward Scissorhands, Weird Al Yankovic, and the plots of a million porn films, and throw them all into a blender, you might come up with something akin to this show. At times hilarious, rollicking, profane, ridiculous, and occasionally even touching, it’s never anything but entertaining.
Writer/director/choreographer Tony Lewis has taken the basic framework of the plot of Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast and turned it into a raunchy jukebox-style musical. But even that sentence doesn’t begin to describe the show or do it justice. You will hurt your insides laughing so hard one minute and want to get up and dance the next.
The story involves a young man named Swell (William Nickles), the “twinkie” of the title, a rom-com-obsessed virgin whom his whole town is in love with. The opening number, a profanity and sex-crazed rewriting of “Belle” from the Disney film, pretty much tells you all you need to know. He has caught the eye of local porn star Piston (Daniel Riddlesmith) who is determined to take the young man’s virginity.
Swell’s Draggy Godmother (May O’Nays) makes the bad decision to try to sell Tupperware at the home of The Beast (Yehudah Husband), setting in motion a plot that will eventually put the two title characters in a tumultuous romance. Sex jokes, rocking numbers, and Stockholm Syndrome abound.
The show shouldn’t work but it does, thanks to strong performances committed to the absurdity and Lewis’s skillful direction. The two main characters are perfectly cast; Nickles’ limp-wristed but sassy portrayal of Swell is stereotypical to say the least, but that’s kind of the point and he plays it fearlessly. Husband’s Beast comes off at first as simply a vicious drag persona but is the one character that overcomes expectations and brings a lot of heart and soul to the wild insanity of the piece. (And the Beast’s costume design, also by Lewis, is a work of drag art!)
Riddlesmith’s Piston (and that name isn’t pronounced the way you think it is) is all pomp and swagger and he really sells it. Richie Goff steals every scene he’s in with two different characters, first as the sex-obsessed equivalent of Disney’s LeFou, and later as Poof, a literal anthropomorphized powder puff. The rest of the cast is also stellar.
It’s a fun show and a nice diversion in these trying times. If you are not easily offended and looking for a fun evening, this one’s for you.
Featuring Ashley Brooke Drury, Richie Goff, Yehudah Husband, Annie Mayer, William Nickles, May O’Nays, Daniel Riddlesmith, and Alex Roby.
Twinkie and the Beast
December 1, 2, 2, & 4 @ 7:30 pm
Drag Daddy Productions
Play Dance Club
1101 E. Washington Street
Louisville, KY 40206
Craig Nolan Highley has been active in local theatre as an actor, director and producer for more than 14 years. In June 2019 he launched a new company with Jeremy Guiterrez, Theatre Reprise. He has worked with Bunbury Theater, Clarksville Little Theatre, Finnigan Productions, Louisville Repertory Company, Savage Rose Classical Theatre Co., and WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre among others. He has been a member of the Wayward Actors Company since 2006, and currently serves as their Board President. Craig’s reviews have also appeared in TheatreLouisville and Louisville Mojo.