Billy Porter, “The Last Midnight” from Into the Woods, At the Corner of Broadway and Soul (Live)
Last week I saw Billy Porter do King Lear as “Queen Lear”, reproducing (and exponentially expanding upon) a Reggie Jackson production from the early ’90s, setting Billy Shakes’ play in the drag balls of Paris Is Burning. It was, perhaps, the best theatrical event I’ve ever seen. At the very least, the best Shakespeare I’ve seen since my youthful days at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I mean, so good I don’t really have any words.
And then today, listening to the Sirius XM Broadway channel at work, I came across this. Seth Rudetsky (the host for a few hours in the afternoon) introduced the song by saying he asked Billy to sing something at a recent show, and Billy tried to defer, “But why? I’m an actress now.” And so he is! But oh sweet Jesus, what a voice!
Long story short: if Billy Porter in drag can be the best King Lear I’ve ever seen, I can’t even fathom how good he would be as the Witch in Into the Woods. I know it was just revived recently and all, but Broadway producers/Steve Sondheim: can’t we make this happen?!? He’s like Vanessa Williams, but with actual balls.
Actually—using The Witch as a reference point makes a lot of sense for Billy’s LEAR (which I also so and liked, though not as unequivocally or enthusiastically as Macartney). But, regardless, this song is FIERCE. I can honestly say I’ve never enjoyed listening to it until now.