Make Me Gorgeous!

Reviewer's Rating

Make Me Gorgeous! is a triumph. Every exquisite detail is crafted to perfection, and Darius Rose aka Jackie Cox brings real star quality throughout. A ninety minute one-person play, it was obvious from the standing ovation and the rapt atmosphere of the audience throughout, that we could have stayed there all night.

The play, written by Donald “Donnie” Horn, tells the true story of Kenneth Marlowe, ‘Mr. Madam’, the trailblazing LGBTQ+ icon of the twentieth century. We start in early childhood, and travel through Marlowe’s fabulous, challenging, varied, and often moving life story. There are tales of strip clubs, singing, dancing, hairdressing for stars and for prostitutes, sex work, mobsters, the army, becoming a writer, and gender reassignment later in life. Throughout the show, what is always present is Marlowe’s devotion to loving life, to searching for joy in the most painful of moments, to staying true to themselves despite the often insurmountable challenges.

The atmosphere at Playhouse 46 at St Luke’s evokes the feel of a cabaret club, intimate, softly lit, so much so that the play feels like a private conversation between the audience and Kenneth Marlowe. Darius Rose aka Jackie Cox has tremendous energy, perfect comic timing, and an impressive ability to switch between humour and poignancy in seconds. While it is laughter that drives the show, the moments of sadness are heart-breaking. There is, for example, a powerful scene that describes how they became a writer as a way of processing the trauma of a horrific act of abuse during a time in the army.

Jackie Cox is a fabulous performer. A stunning singing voice and a talented dancer, she can transform the stage into a nightclub in seconds, transporting us back in time. With many costume changes throughout the show, as well as the application and removal of eyelashes, brows, lipstick, beautifully contoured make-up, these stunning transformations take place before our eyes. And yet what stays constant is a warm-hearted delight in life, a desire to connect with others, and the joyful coming together of a loving and supportive community.

Ninety perfect minutes of theatre, Make Me Gorgeous! goes straight on to my list of best shows I’ve ever seen. Get your tickets now before the run comes to an end later this month.

A new play by Donald “Donnie” Horn, with additional material by Wade McCollum

Cast: Darius Rose a.k.a Jackie Cox

Performing at Playhouse 46 at St Luke’s, 308 West 46th Street, NYC

Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission

Showing until February 25, 2024