Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety show is definitely not fit for the Queen

Jonny Woo, Un-Royal Variety

Jonny Woo, Un-Royal Variety - Credit: Archant

For one night at Hackney Empire, a variety show celebrates the world spectacular with acts that you’d never show the royal family

A female Boris Johnson is joining an R&B singing Kate Middleton and a host of drag queens for one night on the stage.

Drag superstar Jonny Woo prances into Hackney Empire again for a dazzling show. The Un-Royal Variety on November 4 will feature the crème de la crème of London’s alternative cabaret scene plus special international guests.

Jonny collaborates with many stars including operatic drag icon Le Gateau Chocolat, award-winning cabaret duo Bourgeois & Maurice and Jerry Springer the Opera composer Richard Thomas for a 21st century variety show that’s definitely not suitable for Her Majesty.

“We wanted a show that is provocative, dangerous, exciting and spectacular,” says Jonny. “It’s the first time we’re doing it. They’re all new performers too.

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“The political climate has changed. There is a general feeling of unrest. We thought there should be some social commentary in there; it’s not anti royal but the idea is that we’re presenting a show that shouldn’t necessarily be fit for the royal family.”

And it certainly isn’t. Featuring a double Olivier award winning opera drag artist playing Nigel Farage in Brexit: The Musical and a choir all styled to look exactly like Kate Middleton, it’s unlikely you’ll be seeing the Queen in the royal box.

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Jonny is multi talented, conceiving the show, which was co-written with Richard Thomas, curating and directing the play. He will also take to the stage himself and perform a solo act.

“It’s such a big premier venue,” he says of the Hackney Empire. “I feel so honoured to work there, it’s like a dream to work in that environment, with so many talented people. All the performers deserve to work on that theatre stage.”

Jonny and the team have been working hard. The show went in the diary back in February and since then they have been slaving away for long hours on the production. There’s a cast of about eighty and a production team of twenty. It collates expertise from a wide variety of places.

Jonny is in his element in his home in east London. Hackney has impassioned him ever since he moved there in 1995. He has invested a lot of time and energy in the area and has been the life and soul of the performing arts and gay scene in Shoreditch. Jonny looks back with fond memories at years of working and partying in Hackney.

“I’ve had a brilliant time here over the years. Some highlights include Gay Bingo for Hackney Empire, the Bjork night at the pub, warehouse parties high on ecstasy and crawling back on Sunday night. It was brilliant, there was so much energy.”

Aside from all the good times, Jonny has recognised how London’s gay nightlife has changed:

“Hackney is very much in danger of losing its artistic core and

losing its character. It’s such a crying shame. It’s one of the most vibrant parts of London, it’s so diverse.”

But Jonny still appreciates the sense of community that remains between the owners of the venues.

“They are all independently owned and we all know each other. There is a real sense of community; we are all interlinked. The gay scene in east London is still very thrilling.”

Jonny never stops entertaining. He also co owns one of the east end’s most beloved pubs: The Glory. Opening two years ago, it has hosted many different nights from drag competitions to spoken word events. The pub never fails to entertain London’s colourful clan.

“It brings in an eclectic crowd to say the least!” says Jonny. “The future’s looking very rosy for the pub.”

He has big plans for the future: “By end of January I would have lined up a whole load of new shows to work on.”

Jonny Woo’s Un-Royal Variety comes to the Hackney Empire on November 4 at 7:30pm.

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