The musical, which tells the story of two rival lawsuits vying to survive amid financial troubles, was co-written by songwriter and producer Thomas Costanza, celebrity songwriter Ashley Gordon, and RuPaul’s Drag Race Starring Alaska Thunderfuck, who also stars in the new album. Emmy nominee Spencer Leaf directs.
He joined Thunderfuck on the cast of the Broadway album alum Max von Essen, Peppermint, and Nick Adams, along with Bob the Drag Queen, Divina De Campo, Fortune Feimster, Ginger Minj, Jack Rodman, Jamie Torcellini and Jujubee , Lagoona Bloo, Margaret Cho, Michele Visage, and Monet X-Change. Alaska, Lagoona Blue, Monét X Change, and Nick Adams will also perform scenes and songs from the musical at three upcoming workshop shows at The Bourbon Room in Los Angeles on June 10-11.
Thunderfuck, Constanza, and Gordon guide us through the inspiration behind the songs DRAG: Musical In this exclusive breakdown of each track:
1. “Welcome to The Fishtank”
Thomas Constance: The question I get asked often is, “What’s the hardest part about writing a musical?” I always give the same answer. “There are two tougher parts: getting started and finishing.” This idea comes into play especially in connection with the first and last songs of the production. It takes a great deal of foresight to imagine how audiences can get in touch with the show’s atmosphere from the moment the curtain rises. Obviously, Justin and Ashley and I knew the first song had to be awesome. There was no dispute that we had to write something that would inspire everyone in the room to want to move straight from the jump. Most shows wait until the last song of the show to truly engage theater-goers. Our vision was to break with the traditional musical theater framework and achieve audience participation from the first note. We also had to make sure that we incorporated the granules. The electric guitars heard throughout the soundtrack are the bedrock of the harmonic structure, which in essence serves to solidify a punk rock attitude that includes the lyrics. “Welcome to The Fishtank” is undoubtedly the embodiment of all the tracks on the album.
2. “It’s All That”
TC: Growing up, two of my all-time favorite songs were Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO and “I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick. Besides the fact that the tunes are hypnotic and the hooks are catchy as hell, the soundtrack beds on both tracks are captivating. Add some great production and some impeccable performances and you’ve got On two timeless recordings. I didn’t really understand why I loved these songs so much until I was set to re-record them. I finally discovered that the magic that manifests in these ear candy tunes is that driving, four hits to the ground actually has a slight swing. It’s the swing that makes it all So unique. When it came time to write “It’s All That”, we faced an interesting challenge. The song “She’s All That” was sandwiched between the fast-driving car and disco, “Welcome to Fishtank” and “Cathouse Fever.” Basically, we needed to write A transitional song that has high energy combined with elements of jazz. I’ve always wanted to capture the vibe of ‘Mr. Blue Sky” and “I want you want me” and this was our chance. We combined the four important notes on the ground with the rushing melodies that served as the perfect passage for the song “Cathouse Fever.”
3. “Cathos fever”
TC: “Kathos Fever” is a precursor to the sultry queens of the Kathos. Our main goal was to paint a clear picture that Cathos girls were sexy, seductive and provocative. Most of the studio recordings are very raw and influenced by punk rock, so in order to stand out from The Cathouse girls, we knew we had to make the music completely different. As die-hard Fosse fans, we thought it would be a good idea to design Cathouse queens compositions with nightclub– Good Taste.
4. “Queen Kitty”
Alaska Thunderfolk: “Queen Kitty” is my favorite song. It’s the entry song every drag queen wants in her life. He’s kind of a Freddy Mercury, kind of sweet transvestite. It’s a hard rock ‘n’ roll anthem and it’s really fun to sing.
5. “Accounting Song”
TC: Ashley and I are huge fans of the modern 60s set Dave Dee Dozey Beaky Mick & Tich. They have a great song called “Bend It”, which has a very sexy feel that uses constant acceleration and deceleration to the rhythm throughout the track which makes the music so amazing. We’ve always dreamed of using this technique in our own formulation and finally Justin and Ashley had an excuse to do so. For “Accounting Song,” Justin and Ashley had the idea of rolling out as many DRAG items, essentials, and accessories as possible within a three-minute time frame. In the musical, this song is performed by conservative accountant Tom Hutchinson. Our goal was to create anxiety both on a lyrical and musical level, so the slow paced tempo map brought undeniable comic tension to the track.
6. ‘Draw is expensive’
TC: This is the song that started it all. “Expensive Clouds” is the first track we wrote and it sets the tone for the entire musical.
Ashley Gordon: We couldn’t have written a musical about clouds without dedicating a song to the almighty wig. The Queen’s hair is their coronation, and often The Determine the factor that brings a look together. Not surprisingly, Ginger, Jujubee, and Peppermint brought all their enthusiasm and grit to the track. They know a thing or two about the magic of wigs.
7. “Gay Hell”
AG: Jerry is everyone’s favorite drunken gay sailor and is happy to tell you about all the fun (and rumbling) he’s had over his many years as a well-connected social person. The lyrics are inspired by a man I met at a gay bar in New York City years ago. He was drunk as the skunks chimed in on the names of old Hollywood royalty who were “playing straight.” Wherever this guy is, I owe him a drink.
8. “Gloria Schmidt”
at: Gloria Schmidt is named after a character in golden girls whose only handwriting is “Gloria Schmidt…the IRS”. She’s the IRS agent auditing Blanche Devereaux, and the joke is that Blanche was expecting a male agent that she could seduce to get away with paying taxes. So when we were naming the exact IRS agent delivering the bad news about Alexis’ financial disaster, her name came to my mind.
9. “Out of Your League”
at: “Out of Your League” is a kitty Galloway song where she takes the time to explain why she’s so much better than everyone else – and she’s a pure kitty.
10- Miriam Mintz
AG: Myriam has one short and sweet song on the album, so it was very important to have a comedic effect from the jump. Margaret Cho brought the self-aware beauty spirit that Miriam needed during our recording session and we finished in 15 minutes.
11. “She’s such a bitch”
TC: “She’s a Bitch” defines this song in more ways than one. This composition literally took us a year to write. “She’s Such a Bitch” is the final scene of the first act in which we uncover the backstory of Kitty Galloway and Alexis Gilmore’s turbulent relationship. We’ve been breaking the bones of dialogue writing for months until one day, Justin suggested we add a track to the speech to make the scene more interesting. Producer Xander Rushie was in the studio next door to us so we asked him to put the track together. Things came together quickly after that. When all was said and done, the original song was nine minutes long. It took us another 3 weeks to cut the fat.
12. “She is so beautiful.”
AG: Strange to know that Nick and Jack weren’t in the same room when this song was recorded! Their energies literally play ping pong with each other. In this song, Alexis resembles Willy Wonka from the clouds, guiding Brendan through a world of magic and infatuation. Musically, we were inspired a lot by the whim of the “what’s that” craze The Nightmare Before Christmas.
13. “I’m Just Brendan”
AG: This is one of the most important songs in music. Knowing this, we rewrote it about 22 times. It’s meant to capture the “aha” moment that every gay person goes through when they don’t have the vocabulary or emotional understanding to make sense of their gender exploration. Jack expertly showed shyness, confusion, and a longing to understand the song she called for. I still cry a little every time I listen to it.
14. “We need money”
AG: This is an anthem that we can all fall behind on the first of the month, and it’s the first time we’ve seen the girls get to work and collect some coins. They do it with a giant drag sale and everyone gets involved, even little Brendan who instructed to scam people for parts—my favorite part of the song, really.
15. I don’t love you but I love you
TC: “I Don’t Love You But I Like You” is definitely the sleepy track on the album. This song is a full show. The irony is that we did not include the composition in the musical. We ended up writing it months after the book was officially finished. Director Spencer Leaf suggested we need a musical number to solidify the sexual tension between moderate accountant Tom Hutchinson and the pugnacious director of The Fishtank, Dixie Coxworth. At this point in development, Justin, Ashley and I have fully tapped into the ideas. Our creative juices were running on fumes. However, throughout the writing process whenever we need a mass injection of inspiration, we point out some of the key influences that encouraged us to write. DRAG: Musical. Rocky Horror Show Picturessex pistols Who’s TommyAnd, of course, meatloaf Bats from Hell. A heavy dose of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” was all we needed to get the engine going, but a stunning performance by Tony nominee Max von Essen and Emmy Award winner Michel Vesage elevated the track to an absurd level.
16. “Girls Like Us”
at: “Girls Like Us” is a song about the strength and power of the Trans community. In a society that has been incredibly cruel to ours, this song is a lament, but it is also a call to arms and a declaration to survive and persevere against all odds.
17. “Jerry is dead”
TC: This song should always be to eleven!! It’s no secret that this is my favorite song on the album. Being the head of rock/punk from Long Island, I can’t get enough of him. The Sex Pistols Meet the Book of Mormon. yes!!!!!!!
18. “Two dogs are better than one.”
at: “Two Bitches are Better than One” follows the tradition of songs such as “Bosom Buddies” [from Mame]where two enemies are trying hard to be nice but can’t help but tear each other to shreds.
19. “Real Queens”
at: “Real Queens” is a response to the idea that drag queens are inherently bitchy, vile, and nasty. The truth I’ve seen is that actual drag queens everywhere are very supportive of each other, creating a tightly knit community that is a loyal and loving family.
20. “Welcome to The Catfish”
TC: This is the point of the show that anyone and everyone in the theater has to get out of their seats. Nobody should sit. And if you are, Kitty Galloway will chase after you.
21. “Brendan is his name”
AG: This is Brendan’s celebration of “coming out” as a self-confident kid who carries himself as a Minnie Boy meets Elton. The audience has been waiting for this entire musical moment and we’re all ready to experience Brendan’s debut, so the production has to be larger than life. Most of Brendan’s songs are on the slightly shy side, but Jack knew he had to push Brendan out of his comfort zone in this performance.
22. “Get It Together”
at: “Get It Together” is awesome. It talks about the idea that the only way really for us to “make it happen” in the world is by opening up to each other, working together in a vulnerable and real way. This song is so fun