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International drag artist Varla Jean Merman returns to London

Varla Jean Merman by Rex Bonomelli

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

INTERNATIONAL drag artist, Varla Jean Merman, returns to London with The Book of Merman. Her first show in the capital for ten years, it runs at Leicester Square Theatre from Thursday, September 19 to Saturday, September 21, 2013.

Merman will be joining newcomers Well-Strung, The Singing String Quartet, for a two-act evening of what is described as sublime entertainment.

Varla Jean (aka Jeffery Roberson) is best known for appearing in the cult film Girls Will Be Girls, playing Mary Sunshine in the Broadway production of Chicago, and for appearing on TV’s Project Runway.

Act One features all-male string quartet Well-Strung, classical musicians who also sing, putting their own spin on the music of Mozart, Vivaldi, Rihanna, Adele, Lady Gaga, and many more! The group features Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Daniel Shevlin (cello) and Trevor Wadleigh (viola).

The show, fresh from two successful Off-Broadway runs, features material written by Donna Drake, Mark Cortale and Jeffery Roberson. Musical arrangements are by David Levinson, with additional arrangements by Daniel Shevlin.

Well-Strung was conceived by Christopher Marchant and Mark Cortale.

Act Two of the evening is Varla Jean Merman in The Book of Merman featuring hilarious new songs, videos and monologues.

Varla Jean recently starred in the new Off-Broadway musical Lucky Guy opposite Emmy Award-winning Leslie Jordan from Will & Grace, prompting The New York Times to rave, “If Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman had stood in front of the right pair of funhouse mirrors, they might have resembled Ms. Merman and Mr. Jordan in stature as well as comedic talent”.

As Varla Jean, Jeffery Roberson has filled cabarets and concert halls across the world including Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Theater, and London’s Soho Theatre.


Both acts are directed by Donna Drake, who was in the original Broadway casts of A Chorus Line, Sophisticated Ladies, Woman of the Year, The Wind in the Willows, 5678-Dance, It’s So Nice to be Civilized and the original production of The 1940’s Radio Hour. She received an Emmy nomination for Dear Alex and Annie, four Drama Desk nominations, a Mac Award nomination and a Theatre World Award. She also choreographed Catherine Zeta Jones for the American Film Institute Awards.

David Levinson (arranger) collaborated with Stacey Weingarten and Donna Drake on Les Enfants de Paris.

Mark Cortale (co-writer and producer) is also producing Patti LuPone and Seth Rudetsky at Leicester Square Theatre in June. In addition to Well-Strung, Cortale manages and produces Jeffery Roberson aka Varla Jean Merman, Seth Rudetsky and Colleen Ballinger aka Miranda Sings.

This two-act evening is presented in association with Martin Witts for London International Arts Theatres Limited.

Tickets: £25.00 – £35.00 – available from the box office on 08448 733433 or online at

Times: September 19 at 6.30pm; September 20 and 21 at 9.15pm.