Have you heard The Beatles arrived in the United States 50 years ago this month? Yes. We’ve heard. We’ve all heard. The onslaught of 50th anniversary reminders bring with them a slew of memories and expectations that remain unfair to every other British performing act looking to invade, infiltrate and incubate an American fanbase since 1964.
You don’t all receive a screaming welcome from thousands of teenagers, followed hours later with a televised coming-out party for tens of millions more.
More likely, you’ll fly into New York City under the radar to all but a select group of devoted expats.
I’ve seen it happen to plenty of comedians whose brilliance is not immediately recognized on this side of the pond.
Such is the case this week for Luisa Omielan, who brought her one-woman spectacular, “What Would Beyonce Do?”, to New York City’s SubCulture (45 Bleecker Street) for four nights only, which started Tuesday and ends Friday. Omielan graces the stage with a wicked dash of charm and confidence befitting someone already putting the motto of #WhatWouldBeyonceDo into her life, work and life’s work.
And she’s a ball of energy, too.
Before I’m allowed to consider Omielan as Beyonce or Queen Bey, I must first aside any thoughts I may have comparing her spirit or likeness to that of Adira Amram. Especially when Omielan grabs audience members who volunteer to dance alongside her (for whomever they may be, they’ll be no match for Amram’s dancing duo, The Experience). Can I do that? Can I clear my mind, and allow the rest to follow? OK. I’m now in vogue for the gospel according to Omielan as translated through the songs and lyrics of Beyonce Knowles, former frontwoman of Destiny’s Child, current front-and-center woman in the life of Jay-Z (nee Shawn Carter).
It’s certainly tougher to captivate and energize a crowd of 14 than it is the 144 who packed the Soho Theatre in five sold-out runs for her following her tours of the 2012 and 2013 Edinburgh Fringe, but Omielan would not be deterred.
That is, after all, the principle behind her show.
“In this show I need you to lose your shit!” Omielan told the audience Tuesday night.
Hitting 30, moving back in with her mother and finding heartbreak and sorrow at almost every turn, she turns instead to Beyonce to figure out how she can be a strong “Independent Woman,” because hey, who “Run the World? (Girls).” Even if her Polish mom and her absent father aren’t much help. As to the latter, Omielan quips, “Can you tell?” Tagged quickly by: “I love that joke. That’s not a joke. It’s my life.”
There will be twerking, singing and more. This is not a Taylor Swift show. It may, however, include a tangential nod in song to Adele, definitely, and Alanis, too. And not for ironic purposes.
Anyhow, everything comes back to Plan B as in Beyonce and the most appropriate song for this child of destiny.
At Wednesday night’s show, the crowd grew in size and stature — celebrity stylist June Ambrose (VH1’s Styled By June) not only watched Omielan from the audience with Caroline Rhea and Carson Kressley, but also jumped onstage to dance with Omielan. All the single ladies? All the single ladies!
This isn’t Omielan’s first time in the States (she studied at Second City, Improv Olympic and Comedy Sportz Theatre in Chicago for 3 months in 2010, and also performed in Los Angeles two years ago). It’s likely not her last visit, either.
So long as she remembers her own motto, which she offered up in an interview last year: “I have enough hours as Beyonce and Whoopi Goldberg, so what am I going to do with my day?”
Luisa Omielan: What Would Beyonce Do?!, through Feb. 21, 2014, at SubCulture New York.
NOTE: The Comic’s Comic has a pair of tickets to give away to see Luisa Omielan’s show this week. Please let me know in the comments which Beyonce song speaks to you and your life, and why, and maybe I’ll give the pair of tickets to you!