Jinkx Monsoon, the two-time “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner who lived in Seattle from 2006 to 2017 before relocating to her hometown of Portland, landed on her biggest-budget stage yet with a guest-starring role in the second episode of the new season of “Doctor Who,” now streaming on Disney+.

Monsoon plays the evil Maestro, a malevolent force that attempts to abscond with all the world’s music if the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and companion Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) can’t stop Maestro’s nefarious efforts.

In a Zoom interview from New York where she’s starring as Audrey in an off-Broadway production of “Little Shop of Horrors” through May 26, Monsoon says “Doctor Who” showrunner Russell T. Davies, a longtime friend, created the Maestro role and wrote the episode specifically for Monsoon after seeing her stage show, “Together Again, Again!,” which comes to Seattle Rep from May 31-June 23.

“He had never gotten an idea to put me on one of his shows before, but apparently something about this show gave him the idea,” Monsoon says, explaining that the premise of “Together Again, Again!,” created with longtime music partner Major Scales, finds Monsoon and Scales in their 80s in a dystopian future. “They have not performed together for a long time, so they are coming back together for the first time in many years to do a retrospective of their joint career. And Jinx has become, let’s say, equal parts grand and delusional in her old age, and Major is just pretty bitter.”

Monsoon, whose real name is Hera J. Hoffer, characterizes Maestro as a mix of The Joker from “Batman,” the Child Catcher from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and, perhaps, one of Jinkx Monsoon’s relatives.

“I knew that I could bring me to this character, and what I learned from those [other] inspirations is that this character can switch on a dime,” Monsoon says. “This character is more than just evil. This character makes their own rules.

“What I love about playing a god or an immortal,” she continues, “is they are not bound by any human rules or societal rules. Gender is something mortals created; it does not affect Maestro. … And I love a character that’s so bored that they’ve decided they’re going to make their impact on the universe by wiping out all life so they can create a symphony of white noise that spans the universe. How committed must a character be that they’re willing to do all that just to prove that they’re worth something?”

Monsoon says playing a villain is more fun than any sort of heroic role.

“I’ve really loved creating this character because there’s so many layers and so much nuance to this character,” she says. “When the villain has motivation, a mission, an ego, when there’s a humanity inside there, even though Maestro is objectively pretty evil, they believe in what they’re doing. There’s a layer of, I daresay, an inferiority complex derived from daddy issues.”

Monsoon’s musical background helped to some degree, given that Maestro plays multiple instruments in “The Devil’s Chord” episode of “Doctor Who.”

“I’ve never stuck with any instrument other than the ukulele,” Monsoon says. “I did play the double bass for three years, so some of that came back to me, and Ben [Chessell], the director, plays the bass so he reminded me [of how to play], so when I was playing the jazz riff on the bass, that was real. Anything else was pretty much flawless acting.”

In Monsoon’s episode, musical notes soar through the air and slither around characters to detain them, all special effects that were added as CGI in postproduction. Monsoon wasn’t phased.

“I think going to art school prepared me for being able to commit to the circumstances,” she says. “There were people in full green bodysuits holding up floating music notes. That’s not natural, but because Ncuti and Millie were so invested in their performances and what they were bringing to the scene, it was easy to stay in the world of the scene no matter what’s going on. Art school really helps for those kinds of things because I had to put up with some BS in art school. When your scene partner brings in a bag of cat poop that they collected and starts swinging it around, men in green suits don’t bother you at all.”

Producers invited Monsoon into the conversation about Maestro’s look early in the process, which she considers a show of respect for her as a drag entertainer and as transfeminine actor. Monsoon says the “Doctor Who” team worked with Monsoon’s regular corset-maker, costumer and wig designer to get Maestro’s hair in the same shade as Jinkx’s. Monsoon did not apply her own makeup, despite plenty of experience in that area.

“I was an actor there being an actor,” she says. “Of course, there were little moments where I’d say, ‘Well, if you want a drag queen’s opinion on what I would do … .’ But the design team was just incredible.”

Despite the resemblance to Bette Midler’s Winifred Sanderson from “Hocus Pocus,” Monsoon says Maestro’s hair design was not an intentional homage.

“In one of our first conversations we were talking about Maestro having looks inspired by iconic musical performers throughout time, so the first look is a mashup between Beethoven and Liberace,” Monsoon says. “The second is a nod to Adele. And then the third is Sgt. Pepper. But listen, Bette Midler has been an inspiration to me as a performer as far back as I can remember. You put a curly wig on me, I’m going to look like Winifred no matter what.”

In addition to her upcoming show in Seattle and a return to playing Matron “Mama” Morton in “Chicago” on Broadway in June, Monsoon is already looking ahead to Valentine’s Day 2025 when she’ll play New York’s Carnegie Hall. Tickets go on sale Aug. 12.

“It’s my Carnegie Hall debut and it’s co-written and directed by [Seattle’s] BenDeLaCrème, so it’s going to be another Jinkx-DeLa joint,” Monsoon says. “What else do I have to say? The drag queens are taking the Hall, baby!”

“Doctor Who”

The first two episodes of the new season are streaming on Disney+. New episodes drop on Saturdays, through June 22.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *