Time Out Theater Review: "Jomama Jones: Radiate"
"Jomama Jones: Radiate" is a new performance art piece currently rocking the New York theater space Soho Rep. NY1 contributing critic David Cote of Time Out New York filed the following review.
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A sleek and funky spaceship has landed in TriBeCa at Soho Rep. The glittery hatch opens, and who struts out but the inimitable Jomama Jones. What? You don’t know this mythical soul diva from the 80s? After her fabulous comeback concert, you will.
A drag persona created by performer and playwright Daniel Alexander Jones, Jomama Jones has an extensive back-story, including a string of R&B hits in the early 80s, then self-imposed exile from America for several years. This show that we’re at, called Radiate, is Jomama’s triumphant return to an adoring public. The Amazonian chanteuse brings the hard-won fruits of her wisdom-following your dreams, resisting oppression and expressing your inner self, conveyed through a dozen or so catchy numbers that will have you wiggling and bouncing in your seat. Between songs, Jones regales us with quirky and touching tales from childhood and her recent years in exile. This very glam show, directed with panache by Kym Jones, doesn’t really amount to a play or a musical, more of a conceptual cabaret with poetic interludes. But the music is wonderful. Composed by Jones’ collaborator Bobby Halvorson and performed with fearless style by magnificent backup singers Helga Davis and Sonya Perryman, the tunes range from trippy space-age grooves to foot-stomping soft-punk anthems about the need for change, empowerment and freeing your soul. The interesting thing about Radiate is the way it treads a careful line between parody and homage. Jomama never fully devolves into mean-spirited drag-queen caricature. Unlike, say, Kiki DuRane of Kiki & Herb fame, Jomama’s a diva, but a sane, maternal one. Radiate is ultimately about acceptance and community. Luckily, there’s still plenty of great music.
Jomama Jones is a wonderfully unique creation: a fusion of retro-funk, camp and theatricality that begs for yet another comeback tour, perhaps even in a more fleshed out musical.