Rusicals a “RuPaul’s Drag Race“It’s something that institutions and audiences have been looking forward to every season since Season 6. Executive producer Tom Campbell said this year’s “Wigloose: Rusik“They said ‘Wigloose’ like ‘Footloose’ and it writes itself,” Campbell says.
The Maxi challenge puts the queens’ performance skills to the test through song, dance and acting as they tell a musical story. Previous challenges have included “Moulin Ru: The Rusical,” Madonna, Cher, and even the presidency of Donald Trump. The idea is that viewers already know the story of Rusical and condense it into a production of less than 12 minutes.
Season 15’s Rusical, “Wigloose,” is set in the small drag-free town of West Bumtuck and is a parody of the 1984 movie “Footloose,” starring Kevin Bacon.
Singer and songwriter Brett “Leland” McLaughlin’s job when decoding lyrics is to make sure there is fairness between songs in any Rusical. “It’s about letting every queen steal the show and rise to the occasion. The musical comes together with my act of pretending to be on stage and animating it. I want to see how it feels when a queen sings.”
Leland says he usually spends a few days working on the music at the piano, but it’s his challenge to sum up the length of the song, aside from ensuring that each queen is the center of attention. “If we didn’t, it would be a 35-minute version.” He drives this with the “idea of not getting too attached to anything just because it might have been cut down”. But also knowing the finished one-minute version is exactly how it should be and it flows.” “If it were up to me, we’d have a long musical,” he adds.
Comedy is everything when putting together a Rusical, and Leland draws this by playing to queens and their personalities. “Comedy timing is everything. We can fill our Rusical with moments that let the audience laugh or move them, that’s the balance I wanted to achieve,” he says.
In some musical numbers, the queens will voice their vocals, but for “Wigloose,” Leland got the voice-matching task for the queens to lip-sync. “I tried to find the vocal tonality. He was a Southern hick vocalist, whose vocal he lip-synced to Selina’s Titties. It’s fun to match those voices that they wouldn’t normally be able to do, so it gives the character a whole new facet.”
For the choreography, Miguel Zarate brings it all together. But ultimately it comes down to two factors, working long hours and queens.
Says Campbell, “Brett will be working all day, after we finish filming a show, the music will come on, and we’ll be fixing things and finishing things up by midnight. It all falls to the queens, who usually have a day of rehearsal, and they’re given material, they listen to him, they work with Miguel but it’s the queen who brings everything and makes everything special.
When “Wigloose the Rusical” was originally conceived as an idea. Leland says the all-dancing, bouncing number is ahead of its time by “taking many fictional steps into a world we never imagined.”
In the short time it took to bring “Wigloose” to life, the United States has seen entrainment and anti-trans bills passed and ongoing hate crimes against the community. Adds Campbell: “We realized how timely and so beautiful and important it all came together.” “I’m not taking it lightly and I’m not trying to be a scaredy cat,” she adds. “Sometimes people say, ‘Oh, there’s too much drag racing or there’s enough of it already. It’s like we don’t exist, so our existence can be extinguished.”
Watch “Wigloose: The Rusical” below.