San Francisco drag queens reboot ‘Roseanne’

Courtesy PhotoLive onstage: Local drage artists present stage versions of “Roseanne” TV episodes on Wednesdays in The City.

Comedy queen Roseanne Barr recently weathered a Comedy Central roast — but could she survive a campy reboot by San Francisco drag queens?

Two words: Bring it.

The sitcom legend turned activist is the inspiration behind Velvet Rage Productions’ festive stage romp of “Roseanne,” which opens at Rebel next week.  

Two favorite “Roseanne” episodes will be “re-imagined” in two shows most Wednesdays through Nov. 14.

Popular drag performer Lady Bear, taking on the lead role, says she couldn’t imagine not doing it.

“I mean — who doesn’t want to play Roseanne?” she says. “Everyone in my generation grew up watching the show. It’s a culturally iconic thing.”

Rounding out the cast are drag king Leigh Crow as Dan, “Project Lohan’s” D’Arcy Drollinger as Jackie, Heklina as Darlene, Jordan Wheeler as little DJ and Steven LeMay as Becky — the original one played by Lecy Goranson.
So, what’s the trick to making this “Roseanne” work?

“It’s less about re-creating a show and more about creating a new experience that people can relate to,” Lady Bear says. “We’re just a little band of local actors and drag queens who are on a bare-bones set — very off, off, off, off Broadway.

“The audiences will be coming to a very homespun production and they will definitely feel as if they are a part of the show,” she adds.

Drollinger, who also directs, is looking forward to wearing “some bad-ass washed-out ’90s jeans and a Navajo jacket,” adding that he  had “no idea there were so many hard-core ‘Roseanne’ fans out there in the world.”
Fans can expect a clever spin on the episodes presented.

First is “The Test” from 1990, in which Roseanne thinks she may be pregnant. Tossed in for good measure are moments of “Inherit the Wind,” which comically chronicled Becky’s digestion issues at school.

Then there’s the merging of “Confessions,” also from 1990, and “Mommy Nearest” (1992), both about Roseanne’s mother, Beverly.

“Roseanne” isn’t the first time popular television shows have been reworked into drag-reboot stage productions in The City. “The Golden Girls,” “Designing Women” and “Sex and the City” all have been well-received.

“People have their fondness for it,” Drollinger says. “They have watched the shows, love the characters and have connection to the characters. Seeing them come to life right in front of their eyes just brings it up a notch.”

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